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The Top Five Horror Writers of All Time

Updated on September 17, 2019
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Stephen King

The Anthropological Writer

Stephen King is unarguably the best horror writer of all time. With his first horror novel in 1976 (Carrie), he has catapulted himself as the King of horror. His surname suits him well. What makes King so compelling of a writer is the psychological and social aspects of humanity that he interweaves into his stories. Many of his books touch upon the big philosophical problems and human weaknesses that everyone of us as human beings experiences on a perpetual basis. For example, Carrie is a novel about a teenage social outcast who consistently gets bullied. The novel “It” is about darkness that preys upon our greatest fears. Lastly, “Needful Things” is about the depravity and intrinsic wickedness that each one of us is capable of if we do not practice self awareness. These are just a few examples, but they do reveal why King is such a phenomenal writer.

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Ray Bradbury

The Eclectic Writer

Ray Bradbury places second on my list of the top five horror writers of all time. In my opinion, Mr. Bradbury does not get the credit he deserves. He is a very eclectic writer that weaves the element of horror into a variety of other genres such as mystery, science fiction, and fantasy. When I was a child, I watched the Ray Bradbury Theater and was enthralled and captivated by the stories. Although there were 65 episodes over a span of six seasons, this series was one of the best I have ever seen. These shows revealed the breadth of Ray Bradbury’s brilliant imagination. No other writer, including Stephen King himself, comes close to covering the multidimensionality of horror as does Ray Bradbury.

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Edgar Allan Poe

The Romantic Writer

No top five lists would be complete without Edgar Allan Poe. Poe was simply brilliant and was also one of the pioneers of the American horror genre. He was one of the writers in the era of Romanticism and interweaved this theme throughout all of his writings whether they were short stories or poems. The elements of Romanticism involve beauty, love, emotions, the metaphysical and the supernatural. No other writer in history captures both the dual emotions of love and fear the way that Edgar Allan Poe does. One of my favorite stories as a child that was turned into a movie starring Martin Landau was “The Fall of the House of Usher”. The story is both creepy and existential, which is why I think Poe is one of the best horror writers of all time.

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Robert Lewis Stine

The Children’s Writer

R. L. Stine has been referred to as the Stephen King of children’s literature. At first these might seem like a paradox, but Stein does an excellent job of combining these two genres and creating spooky themes that will send chills down your spine even as an adult. Although the Goosebumps series were written when I was an older teenager and young adult, my love of the horror genre compelled me to indulge myself in the books, television series, and movies. Also, it doesn’t hurt that R. L. Stine hails from my home state of Ohio. Go Buckeyes!

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Howard Phillips Lovecraft

The Cosmic Writer

The final individual on my list of the top five writers of all time is H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft is a legend. Unfortunately, although he was not a popular writer during the time that he was alive, afterwards, he gained a considerable following after his untimely death. Lovecraft’s writings are centered upon man’s place in a vast chaotic universe in which he has no divine intervention or comprehension of the supernatural. This leaves him feeling empty, aimless, and frightened. Lovecraft combines teleological, philosophical, and cosmic elements to write what I consider to be some of the best horror literature ever written.

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Summary

In summary, these are who I believe to be the top five horror writers of all time. I have chosen these individuals based upon originality, uniqueness, and contribution to American horror culture. Of course, this is subjective and only my opinion, but no one who loves the horror genre cannot doubt the impact that these writers have had on our culture.

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    • Stephen A Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephen A Brown 

      10 days ago

      Very interesting. I have never seen the movie Legion, but will be sure to check it out. It sounds like it has many existential elements in it. Thanks for responding.

    • profile image

      Moral Man 

      2 weeks ago

      One of the best horror novels in my opinion is Legion, by author William Peter Blatty, which was made into a movie, Exorcist 3-Legion. This is really a sequel to The Exorcist . The novel Legion and the movie based on it is unique in that addresses all three categories of evil, Moral evil, Natural evil, and Supernatural evil. No other horror novel that Im aware of has accomplished this. It addresses human cruelty and evil, it addresses demonic possession, and it addresses the cruelties and horrors of Nature such as cancer and meningitus.

    • Stephen A Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephen A Brown 

      3 weeks ago

      Thanks for your ample response Moral Man. It really seems like you know your stuff when it comes to the horror genre. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

    • profile image

      Moral Man 

      3 weeks ago

      This list of horror writers is a good list. Authors Stephen King and Ray Bradbury stand out as the best. Stephen King's Carrie and The Shining are two of the most compelling horror novels which were put to the screen by movie directors Brian Depalma and Stanley Kubrick.

      Author Ray Bradbury wrote intriguing fantasy and science fiction stories. The Illustrated Man is one of his best and most profound stories. The concept of having a device that can project an African landscape into one's living room is futuristic virtual reality. Thats a great fantastic concept. Imagine being able to transform a bleak, boring house into an African savanna or being able to transform it into any place you like.

      Authors William Peter Blatty, Jay Anson, Dean Koontz, Bentley Little, John Saul, and Thomas Tryon are all talented. Blatty wrote The Exorcist and Legion which focuses on demonic possession. Jay Anson wrote about haunted houses such as The Amityville Horror and the not as well known 666. In the novel 666, a mysterious and sinister house appears and entraps its victims. The house glows red and is run by the Devil himself. In one edition of this novel, theres an artwork illustration of Satan holding a man and a woman captive. This version of Satan is half man and half beast, a 9 foot tall biped with hairy legs, and a scaly reptile like upper body with greenish skin, and instead of horns on top of his head, this Satan has antlers on top of its head like a deer. The artist is unknown, but its a very scary picture.

      Dean Koontz has produced many novels as well. Two noteworthy titles are Night Chills and The Servants of Twilight. In The Servants of Twilight, a doomsday cult is out to kill a 6 year old boy who they believe is the Antichrist. Its harrowing and filled with action and suspense. In one hardcover edition of this book, there is a drawing of the Devil or a demon crouching over a woman as she lays sleeping. Its shaped like a humanoid with a very evil, scary appearance.

    • Stephen A Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephen A Brown 

      4 weeks ago

      Thank you Lorna. I am glad you found it to be interesting. Edgar Allan Poe is a true literary genius, and I hope to write more about him in the future.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      4 weeks ago

      I have always been a big fan of Edgar Allen Poe and he certainly embraces the essence of horror in both his poem and stories. I'm so glad he made it as one of the top 5 and I enjoyed this interesting and informative article.

    • Stephen A Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephen A Brown 

      4 weeks ago

      Thanks for responding Jodah. Yes, the classic writers are some of my favorites.

      These are some of the giants that modern writers get their inspiration from.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      Am interesting article, and although there are many good writers of horror, it is hard to argue against these. Some, like Mary Shelley (Frankenstein) and Robert Louis Stephenson (Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) only wrote one or two in that genre.

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