Sheridan Le Fanu was born on Dublin's Lower Dominick Street on the 28th of August, 1814. His father was a Church of Ireland clergyman who served as the Dean of Emly, and the family were of French Hugenot descent. The family moved from the city centre to the Phoenix Park, an area of Dublin that would feature in a number of Le Fanu's literary works, in particular Ghost Stories of Chapelizod. The family were relocated to Limerick when Le Fanu's father was appointed as rector of Abington, but later returned to Dublin amid disturbances over tithe payments in a highly Catholic area.
Although he was a student of Law, Le Fanu would earn his fame as a writer, following in the footsteps of his playwright Grandmother and Great Uncle. Le Fanu's first foray into professional writing was through the medium of journalism. Whilst studying at Trinity College Dublin, he became involved in student newspapers and would later become the editor and owner of a number of publications. His early novels consist of historical fiction and are mostly concerned with the Jacobite cause. Le Fanu was openly in opposition to government policies during the famine, and wrote on the topic to his own political loss. He is most noted for his works of horror which include the novel Uncle Silas and the short story collection, In a Glass Darkly. It is in this collection that Le Fanu explored the topic of vampires in his story Carmilla, a topic that would go on to influence fellow Irishman Bram Stoker in his depiction of Count Dracula. One of Le Fanu's greatest talents was his ability to evoke the underlying psychological horror of a haunted house. This ability to incite terror in his readers earned him a place as a firm favourite amongst horror fans even today, though in his own time he was troubled by financial worries.
Sheridan Le Fanu died on the 7th of February 1873 from what was deemed a 'hysterical attack', though the story was put out that he died of fright. A fitting end for a master of the horror genre.
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