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H. P. Lovecraft, pictured in 1934

Weird fiction is a subgenre of speculative fiction originating in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. China Miéville defines Weird Fiction thus: "Weird Fiction is usually, roughly, conceived of as a rather breathless and generically slippery macabre fiction, a dark fantastic (“horror” plus “fantasy”) often featuring nontraditional alien monsters (thus plus “science fiction”)."[1] Weird fiction is distinguished from horror and fantasy in its blending of supernatural, mythical, and even scientific tropes. Weird fiction either eschews or radically reinterprets ghosts, vampires, werewolves and other traditional antagonists of supernatural horror fiction.[1][2][3] Edgar Allan Poe is seen as the pioneering author of weird fiction; Sheridan Le Fanu is also seen as an early writer working in the sub-genre.[1] British authors who have embraced this style have often published their work in mainstream literary magazines even after American pulp magazines became popular.[4] Popular weird fiction writers included Algernon Blackwood, William Hope Hodgson, Lord Dunsany,[5] Arthur Machen,[6] and M. R. James.[7] The writers who wrote for the magazine Weird Tales are closely identified with the weird fiction subgenre, especially H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber and Robert Bloch. [1] Weird fiction is sometimes symbolised by the tentacle-a limb-type absent from most of the monsters of European folklore and gothic fiction, but often attached to the monstrous creatures created by weird fiction writers such as Hodgson, M. R. James and Lovecraft.[1][2]

Although "weird fiction" has been chiefly used as a historical description for works through the 1930s, the term has also been increasingly used since the 1980s, sometimes to describe slipstream fiction that blends horror, fantasy, and science fiction.



H. P. Lovecraft popularized the term "weird fiction" in his essays. [1] In "Supernatural Horror in Literature," Lovecraft defines the genre:

The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain—a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.

The pulp magazine Weird Tales published many such stories in the United States from March 1923 to September 1954. S. T. Joshi describes several subdivisions of the weird tale: supernatural horror (or fantastique), the ghost story, quasi science fiction, fantasy, and ambiguous horror fiction and argues that "the weird tale" is primarily the result of the philosophical and aesthetic predispositions of the authors associated with this type of fiction.[8][9]

Although Lovecraft was one of the few early 20th-century writers to describe his work as "weird fiction,"[4] the term has enjoyed a contemporary revival in New Weird fiction. For example, China Miéville often refers to his work as weird fiction.[10] Many horror writers have also situated themselves within the weird tradition, including Clive Barker, who describes his fiction as fantastique,[11] and Ramsey Campbell,[12] whose early work was deeply influenced by Lovecraft.[13]

Notable authorsEdit

M. R. James, circa 1900

The following notable authors have been described as writers of weird fiction. They are listed alphabetically by last name.

Before 1940Edit



The New WeirdEdit

It has been suggested by some, predominantly Ann and Jeff VanderMeer and China Miéville, that Weird fiction has seen a recent resurgence, a phenomenon they term the New Weird. Tales which fit this category, as well as extensive discussion of the phenomenon, appear in the anthology The New Weird.[27]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n China Miéville, "Weird Fiction",in: Bould, Mark et al. The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction. New York: Routledge, 2009. ISBN 0-415-45378-X (p. 510-516).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac VanderMeer, Ann and Jeff. "The Weird: An Introduction". Weird Fiction Review. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, "The New Weird", in Ken Gelder, New Directions in Popular Fiction : genre, reproduction, distribution. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. ISBN 9781137523457 (pp. 177-200.)
  4. ^ a b Joshi, S. T. (1990). The Weird Tale. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-79050-3. 
  5. ^ Joshi 1990, p. 42
  6. ^ Joshi 1990, p. 12
  7. ^ Joshi 1990, p. 133
  8. ^ Joshi, S.T. "Introduction". The Weird Tale. 
  9. ^ Joshi 1990, pp. 7-10
  10. ^ Gordon, Joan (2003). "Reveling in Genre: An Interview with China Miéville". Science Fiction Studies. 30 (91). 
  11. ^ Winter, Douglas E. (2002). Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic: The Authorized Biography. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-621392-4. , pp. 217-18
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Joshi 1990, p. 231
  13. ^ Campbell, Ramsey. "Chasing the Unknown", introduction to Cold Print (1993), pp. 11-13. ISBN 0-8125-1660-5
  14. ^ Joshi 1990, p. 143
  15. ^ Joshi 1990, p. 87
  16. ^ ""Marjorie Bowen" was the pseudonym of Gabrielle M.V. Campbell Long, and she wrote extensively, using from six to ten pen names throughout her career, primarily in mainstream fiction. Yet her weird fiction ranks favorably with such distaff portrayers of the supernatural as Mary Wilkins-Freeman, Edith Wharton and Lady Cynthia Asquith." Sheldon Jaffery, The Arkham House Companion, San Bernardino, Calif. : Borgo Press, 1990. ISBN 9781557420046 (p. 117)
  17. ^ Jerry L. Ball, "Guy Endore's The Werewolf of Paris: The Definitive Werewolf Novel?" Studies in Weird Fiction, No. 17: pp. 2-12. Summer 1995.
  18. ^ Timothy Jarvis, 101 Weird Writers #45 — Stefan Grabiński, Weird Fiction Review, December 20, 2016. Retrieved September 1 2018.
  19. ^ "Twice-Told Tales...and Mosses From an Old Manse (1846; 23s) include most of Hawthorne's weird fiction. " Michael Ashley, Who's Who in Horror and Fantasy Fiction. Taplinger Publishing Company, 1978. ISBN 9780800882754 (p.90).
  20. ^ a b c "13 Supreme Masters of Weird Fiction" by R.S Hadji.Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, May–June 1983. (p. 84)
  21. ^ "C. F. Keary, "Twixt Dog and Wolf"... [is]a collection of two novellas, one short story, and ten "phantasies,” all of which are literary weird fiction of a high order". Douglas A. Anderson, Late Reviews. Nodens Books, Marcellus, MI, 2018. ISBN 9781987512564 (p.89)
  22. ^ "Vernon Lee (1856-1935) was the pseudonym of lesbian Violet Paget, who was well known for her literary output, a substantial portion of which was considered either "weird fiction" or ghost stories." Eric Garber, & Lyn Paleo Uranian worlds: a guide to alternative sexuality in science fiction, fantasy, and horror G.K. Hall, 1990. ISBN 9780816118328 (p.125)
  23. ^ Gauvin, Edward. "Kavar the Rat". Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  24. ^ "The sudden and unexpected death on June 11 (1936) of Robert Ervin Howard, author of fantastic tales of incomparable vividness, forms weird fiction's worst loss since the passing of Henry S. Whitehead four years ago". H. P. Lovecraft, "Robert Ervin Howard: A Memorial" (1936). Reprinted in Leon Nielsen,Robert E. Howard: A Collector’s Descriptive Bibliography of American and British Hardcover, Paperback, Magazine, Special and Amateur Editions, with a Biography. McFarland, 2010. ISBN 9781476604244. (p.39)
  25. ^ Nolen, Larry. "'s 101 Weird Writers: #3 – Julio Cortázar". Weird Fiction Review. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  26. ^ Ross, Daniel. The Voice of the Mountains Retrieved 27 July 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. ^ VanderMeer, Ann; Jeff VanderMeer (2008). The New Weird. Tachyon. pp. xvi. ISBN 978-1-892391-55-1. 


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