I am in a horrible trap. That was all. Just ten words. All that was in a letter that I read over a cup of coffee. I am a private psychic investigator, and in my profession I naturally get a large number of cranks, one or two psychiatric patients and quite a few practical jokes. I had to ask the way to his home, which was called Bradmoor.

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Campbell intended to submit to Phantom, but his mother, who regarded literary success as a possible way of financing her escape from her disastrous marriage, persuaded him to wait until he had a whole book to show to publishers. His English teacher, Brother Kelly, used to have him read his stories to the class. Campbell as John R. Campbell submitted Ghostly Tales to "numerous publishers" [6] including Tom Boardman publisher; Boardman rejected it as they did not publish ghost stories, but his rejection letter included encouragement to Campbell to keep writing.

It is of interest that, though the stories are mostly mainstream spectral lore, one story "The Hollow in the Woods" can be considered a very early mythos yarn. The influence of H. At the age of twelve, Campbell attempted to write a novel titled Broken Moon, influenced by Arthur Machen , but it petered out after fifty pages. On leaving school at age sixteen, Campbell went to work in the Inland Revenue as a tax officer — Campbell sold various of his early stories to editors including August Derleth and Robert A.

His concept of what was possible in the weird genre became highly imbued with the influence of Lovecraft for the next few years. Campbell wrote various other tales of the Cthulhu Mythos between and Derleth gave the young writer invaluable advice on improving his writing style their correspondence has lately been published in a single volume from PS Publishing.

Campbell has written, "In I was several kinds of lucky to find a publisher, and one kind depended on my having written a Lovecraftian book for Arkham House, the only publisher likely even to have considered it and one of the very few then to be publishing horror. At the suggestion of August Derleth , he rewrote many of his earliest stories, which he had originally set in the Massachusetts locales of Arkham , Dunwich and Innsmouth , and moved them to English settings in and around the fictional Gloucestershire city of Brichester , near the River Severn , creating his own Severn Valley milieu for Lovecraftian horrors.

His later work continues the focus on Liverpool; in particular, his novel Secret Stories published in the U. He finished the collection that would become Demons by Daylight in , but it would not see print until Meanwhile, from to , he continued to write short stories in which he gradually developed his own voice and themes and left the influence of Lovecraft far behind.

Campbell worked in the Liverpool Public Libraries as a library assistant —73 and was acting librarian in charge — Ramsey Campbell". Campbell later legally changed his name to remove the "John".

After working four years in the tax office and seven years in public libraries, by , Campbell became a fulltime writer, encouraged by the issuance by Arkham House of his second collection, Demons by Daylight as by Ramsey Campbell.

That collection had been due for publication in , but was held back two years by the death of August Derleth. Joshi has written: Certainly much of the power of his work derives purely from his prose style, one of the most fluid, dense and evocative in all modern literature [ Klein to write an extensive and highly positive review, Ramsey Campbell: An Appreciation in Nyctalops magazine and critic S.

Joshi has stated [18] that: its [ Campbell has written that "Having completed Demons by Daylight in , I felt directionless, and it shows in quite a few of the subsequent tales. He has written that "retrospect demonstrates how untimely my decision [to write fulltime] was. Kirby McCauley, now my agent, had to tell me that the market for short horror stories was very limited My solution was to lurch into science fiction as best I could.

Little of it sold By the time Arkham House published his second hardcover collection of horror stories, The Height of the Scream , he was beginning to be seen as one of the major modern writers of horror.

In this and The Face that Must Die , Campbell began to fully explore the enigma of evil, touching on the psychological themes of possession, madness and alienation which feature in many of his subsequent novels. He also continued to write short stories, mainly supernatural, receiving the World Fantasy Award for "The Chimney" and "Mackintosh Willy" Campbell has been a lifelong enthusiast of film ; early stories such as The Reshaping of Rossiter ; an early version of The Scar show the influence of directors such as Alain Resnais , and as early as Campbell had become the film reviewer for BBC Radio Merseyside.

Campbell wrote novelisations and introductions for a series of novelisations of Universal horror films. The series has a rather complex publishing history. It is believed this set was made available as boxed set in slipcase, as well as sold individually. Only three of the novels were actually written by Campbell, though he contributed introductions to all six volumes. No US hardcover edition of the series is known. Three further novelisations which appeared under this house name were not by Campbell but written by other authors.

The author of the sixth Dreadstone The Mummy remains unknown. A further two years would elapse before the rest of the series was issued in the UK. The last three of the series were issued by Star Books a W. All six of the UK paperbacks and the hardcover omnibus omitted the film stills which appeared in the original US editions. The novel was cut by Star Books, who first issued it in a paperback edition in ; it was not issued complete until the US Scream Press edition of The s: The Parasite to Ancient Images[ edit ] Campbell became even more prolific during the s, issuing no less than eight novels of which six won major awards and three short story collections.

I wanted to achieve that sense of supernatural terror which derives from the everyday urban landscape rather than invading it, and I greatly admired—still do—how Fritz wrote thoroughly contemporary weird tales which were nevertheless rooted in the best traditions of the field, and which drew some of their strength from uniting British and American influences. But strange; so uniquely Campbell that it might as well be trademarked.

The Parasite ; published in the US with a different ending as To Wake the Dead is an intense novel told from the point of view of a female protagonist who becomes embroiled in occult practices with Lovecraftian undertones.

In The Nameless , also told from the point of view of a woman, a child goes missing and returns only years later, affiliated to a nefarious organisation. In The Claw ; originally published under the pseudonym Jay Ramsey and The Hungry Moon , Campbell writes in a more commercially minded way than in earlier novels.

In , Campbell published Scared Stiff, a collection of "sex and horror" short stories. In the early s Campbell had crossed paths a number of time in Liverpool at cinemas and various parties with a young Liverpool writer named Clive Barker , who had been working around London as a playwright. Barker asked Campbell if he knew any markets for short stories and eventually asked him to look over a soon-to-be-published manuscript and the contract he had been offered for it.

Campbell says "My jaw dropped when I looked at the manuscript—it turned out to be the Books of Blood. Campbell contributed numerous articles on horror cinema to The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural The s: Midnight Sun to The Last Voice They Hear[ edit ] The s again saw Campbell publish eight novels, though in the second half of this decade he moved away from traditional horror to explore crime and tales of social alienation.

Although the author considers this novel "an honourable failure", [30] it is one that many enthusiasts single out as a highlight of this stage of his career. Needing Ghosts , a novella, is a nightmarish work that blends the horrific and the comic; Campbell himself has described the composition of this piece as unique among his work in that it "felt like dreaming on the page" and was written relatively quickly without technical or structural challenges.

Other novels of this decade include The Long Lost , in which a sin-eater is discovered by a couple holidaying in Wales and brought home ostensibly as an relative, with considerable impact on a community.

Campbell had earlier published a non-supernatural novel called The One Safe Place , which uses a highly charged thriller narrative to examine social problems such as the deprivation and abuse of children, and in he turned away for a more sustained period from the supernatural work with which he was associated.

By this time, horror had become commercially less successful and publishers were taking fewer chances on publishing such material, encouraging Campbell to write a number of crimes novels. The first, The Last Voice They Hear , is a tightly plotted thriller which ranges back and forth in time as two brothers become engaged in a cat-and-mouse game redolent of earlier events in their lives.

Although written "under protest", Campbell came to think of the book, during composition, as bearing his own stamp, and his next two novels were also non-supernatural. This volume, illustrated by Jeff K. Potter, is not a comprehensive collection of all the stories Campbell had published in those thirty years, but 39 tales which Campbell and his editor Jim Turner thought representative. The s: Silent Children to Creatures of the Pool[ edit ] In the "noughties", Campbell continued his prolific output, publishing an average of a novel a year, along with three short story collections.

The collection includes book reviews, film reviews, autobiographical writings and other nonfiction, along with reminiscences and appreciations of authors such as John Brunner , Bob Shaw and K. Following the publication of two more crime novels—Silent Children , the story of an eccentric child killer; and Pact of the Fathers , which draws on arcane religious practices—Campbell determined to return to the supernatural and otherworldly.

Having spent a number of months working full-time in a Borders store, Campbell wrote The Overnight , about bookshop staff trapped in their hellish workplace during an overnight shelf-filling shift. In Secret Stories ; abridged US edition, Secret Story, Campbell returned voluntarily to the crime genre, offering a blackly comic study of a latter-day serial killer whose written accounts of his crimes inadvertently win a fiction competition, resulting in further murders.

The author himself, often critical of his own output, continues to cite this novel as one with which he remains pleased. The The Seven Days of Cain to the "Brichester Mythos Trilogy"[ edit ] After , Campbell continued to have published at least a book a year, including a collection of letters from his early career between himself and his first mentor August Derleth Letters to Arkham: The Letters of Ramsey Campbell and August Derleth, , ed.

Joshi, Both The Seven Days of Cain and Think Yourself Lucky explore the use of the internet, as characters appearing online start to impact upon the lived world with disconcerting effects. In , Campbell was commissioned to write the novelisation of the movie Solomon Kane , which was based on the swords and sorcery stories of Robert E. Howard some of which Campbell had completed in his early career.

The Kind Folk is a delicately written evocation of fairy folk, told in the modern day. In , Holes for Faces , a further collection of short fiction appeared, gathering together his work from the s.

The trilogy draws together multiple themes that have preoccupied the author during his whole career: the cosmic, family, scapegoating, the vulnerability of children, and the seductiveness of totalising belief systems. In , the author received an Honorary Fellowship from John Moores University, Liverpool, for "outstanding services to literature".

His fictional worlds feel unusual, threatening, and dislocated. Such an approach has prompted Peter Straub to write: "Horrors in his fiction are never merely invented, they are felt and experienced, and affect the reader for days afterward. In this regard, his approach is similar to that of M. Campbell has described much of his own later work as "comedies of paranoia" [32] , as his characters experience an existential bewilderment that borders on the absurd.

Campbell himself has cited the following themes as recurrent in his work: "the vulnerability of children, the willingness of people to espouse a belief system that denies them the right to question, and the growing tendency to create scapegoats for the ills of the world. The first was the anthology Made in Goatswood Chaosium, edited by Scott David Aniolowski , which includes a story by Campbell himself. Books edited[ edit ] Campbell has edited a number of anthologies , including New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos ; New Terrors and New Terrors II, a groundbreaking two-volume anthology series; and with Stephen Jones the first five volumes of the annual Best New Horror series — His anthology Uncanny Banquet was notable for including the first ever reprint of the obscure horror novel The Hole of the Pit by Adrian Ross.

The Gruesome Book was a paperback anthology of horror tales for children. Campbell is extremely well-read in the horror field, and some of his own literary influences are demonstrated by his selections for the anthology Fine Frights: Stories That Scared Me. In he edited a collection of fiction in the tradition of M. James, entitled Meddling with Ghosts. The Folio Book of Horror Stories , the first collection Campbell had edited in 15 years, draws together classic tales from the last years.

Personal life[ edit ] Campbell married Jenny Chandler a teacher , daughter of A. Bertram Chandler , on 1 January ; has two children, Tamsin born and Matthew born ; and still lives in Merseyside. At various stages of his career—for instance, when he first decided to write on a full-time basis—Campbell received support from Jenny, who worked as a teacher.

Campbell is fond of fine dining, travel, and classical music. He is very active as a public speaker and greatly enjoys giving readings of his fiction at literary events.


Ramsey Campbell








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