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Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

            Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu was born in Dublin in 1814 into a well-educated Irish family of Huguenot extraction, connected by marriage to that of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan.
            He was educated by his father, a clergyman, by private tutors, and then at Trinity College, Dublin. He was called to the bar in 1839, but he never practiced and soon abandoned law for journalism. He contributed ballads, stories and verse to the Dublin University Magazine and in 1861 became its editor and proprietor, developing it from a student publication into a significant European title.
            After the death of his wife in 1858, he withdrew from society becoming known as the "Invisible Prince". He became something of a recluse and devoted himself to his writing.
            At this time, he was becoming increasingly pessimistic about life in general and the course of Irish politics in particular. He seems to have focused on the negative aspects of his own life to write some of the great supernatural horror tales of the period.
            Although a best-selling author for more than twenty years, Le Fanu's reputation drifted into almost a century of obscurity, although he had as fans such writers as Henry James and Dorothy Sayers. A major reason for this neglect by the literary elite seems to be the subject of his writing, since for many decades the great majority of literary critics held supernatural horror fiction in disdain.
            He died on February 7, 1873.

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©1999 Paco Quilis-Gómez
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