John Bellairs

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John Bellairs
John Anthony Bellairs.jpg
Born John Anthony Bellairs
(1938-01-17)January 17, 1938
Marshall, Michigan
Died March 8, 1991(1991-03-08) (aged 53)
Haverhill, Massachusetts
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Education University of Notre Dame, University of Chicago
Period 1966–1991
Genre Fantasy, Horror, Humor

www.bellairsia.com

John Anthony Bellairs (January 17, 1938–March 8, 1991) was an American author, best known for his well-respected fantasy novel The Face in the Frost as well as many gothic mystery novels for young adults featuring Lewis Barnavelt, Anthony Monday, and Johnny Dixon.

Biography[edit]

After earning degrees at University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, Bellairs taught English at various midwestern and New England colleges for several years before turning full-time to writing in 1971. He maintained a lifelong interest in archaeology, architecture, kitschy antiques, bad poetry, traveling to the UK, and studying history and Latin. His favorite authors included Charles Dickens, Henry James, C.V. Wedgwood, and Garrett Mattingly, as well as M.R. James, from whose ghost stories he occasionally borrowed elements to work into his own fiction.

His first published work, St. Fidgeta and Other Parodies, was a collection of short stories satirizing the rites and rituals of Second Vatican Council-era Catholicism. The title story of St. Fidgeta grew out of stories Bellairs made up and shared with friends while living in Chicago. After committing one such story to paper, he sent it to the Chicago-based Catholic magazine the Critic, which published the story in its summer 1965 edition. The following year, the hagiography of St. Fidgeta was supplemented by eleven other humorous stories, including an essay on lesser-known popes of antiquity, a cathedral constructed over the course of centuries, and a spoof letter from a modern-day Xavier Rynne about the escapades at the fictional Third Vatican Council. The book remained out of print for decades until it was rereleased in a 2009 anthology.[citation needed]

The Pedant and the Shuffly, his second book, was a short illustrated fable that detailed the chaotic encounter of the two title characters and logic. It was originally published in 1968 and rereleased in 2001 and 2009.[citation needed]

Bellairs undertook The Face in the Frost while living in Britain and after reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, but it is not much like that book, apart from sharing the idea of a wizard who is palpably human and not a literary stereotype. Bellairs said of his third book: "The Face in the Frost was an attempt to write in the Tolkien manner. I was much taken by The Lord of the Rings and wanted to do a modest work on those lines. In reading the latter book I was struck by the fact that Gandalf was not much of a person—just a good guy. So I gave Prospero, my wizard, most of my phobias and crotchets. It was simply meant as entertainment and any profundity will have to be read in." Writing in 1973, Lin Carter described The Face in the Frost as one of the three best fantasy novels to appear since The Lord of the Rings. Carter stated that Bellairs was planning a sequel to The Face in the Frost at the time.[1] An unfinished sequel titled The Dolphin Cross was included in the 2009 anthology Magic Mirrors, which was published by the New England Science Fiction Association press.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (1973), Bellairs's next novel, was originally composed as a contemporary adult fantasy, but at the time there was little market for such a thing. The second publisher to which it was submitted suggested rewriting it as a young readers' book; Bellairs did so, and thus determined the future course of his career. Bellairs wound up writing 15 young-adult novels.

Two books, The House with a Clock in its Walls and The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn, were adapted for television in 1979 and 1980, respectively. A number of books have also been released in such languages as German, French, Japanese, and Polish, among others.

Death and afterward[edit]

Bellairs died of cardiovascular disease at his home in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1991. He was 53 years old.

At the time of his death, he left behind two unfinished manuscripts and two one-page synopses for future adventures. Author Brad Strickland was commissioned by the Bellairs estate to complete the two unfinished manuscripts and to write novels based on the two one-page outlines. These would become The Ghost in the Mirror; The Vengeance of the Witch-finder; The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie; and The Doom of the Haunted Opera, respectively. Starting in 1996 with The Hand of the Necromancer, Strickland began writing his own stories based on the established characters. In 1992, a historical marker was placed in front of the Cronin House in Bellairs's hometown of Marshall, noting that the imposing Italianate mansion was the basis for his 1973 book. Bellairs was inducted posthumously into the Haverhill Hall of Fame in 2000.

Strickland announced in spring 2005 that new adventures of the Bellairs characters were under way, following contract negotiations with the Bellairs estate and a two-year absence since his last-published novel. The first of these new adventures was The House Where Nobody Lived, released on October 5, 2006.

Illustrators[edit]

Edward Gorey provided covers and frontispieces for all but three of Bellairs's 15 children's works, and continued to provide them for the Strickland novels until his death in 2000. The novel The Beast Under the Wizard's Bridge featured Gorey's last published artwork before his death.[citation needed] Artists S. D. Schindler and Bart Goldman have created cover art for the books published since 2001.

The Gorey covers are no longer in print, though some books still contain interior Gorey illustrations.

Marilyn Fitschen provided the covers and illustrations for Bellairs's first two books, "St Fidgeta and Other Parodies" and "The Pedant and the Shuffly".

Movies[edit]

On November 18, 2011, Mythology Entertainment, founded by Brad Fischer,[2] co-president of production at Phoenix Pictures; Laeta Kalogridis; and James Vanderbilt announced that they hired Eric Kripke, creator of Supernatural and Revolution, to write and produce a feature film based on John Bellairs' work through a partnership with John's estate. "Jamie, Laeta and I are thrilled to launch Mythology Entertainment and to be partnering with Eric Kripke and the estate of John Bellairs for our first feature project,” Fischer said. “As a kid, Eric was inspired by Bellairs’ work and these books have stayed with him through the years…. As a company, we aspire to be a haven for artists and friends who believe in the power of myth and remember that feeling we all got as kids, when the lights went down and the images came up and anything was possible.”[3]

Awards[edit]

# Book Title Award Year
01 The House with a Clock in its Walls American Library Association Children's Books of International Interest Award 1973
02 The House with a Clock in its Walls New York Times Outstanding Books of 1973 Award 1973
03 The House with a Clock in its Walls South Carolina Children's Book Award Nominee 1978–1979
04 The House with a Clock in its Walls Michigan Young Readers Award Nominee 1980
05 The House with a Clock in its Walls Maude Hart Lovelace Award Nominee (Minnesota) 1982
06 The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring South Carolina Children's Book Award Nominee 1979–1980
07 The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring Utah Children's Fiction Book Award 1981
08 The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn Maud Hart Lovelace Award Nominee (Minnesota) 1983
09 The Curse of the Blue Figurine Utah Children's Fiction Book Award Nominee 1985
10 The Curse of the Blue Figurine Indian Paintbrush Book Award Nominee (Wyoming) 1986
11 The Curse of the Blue Figurine Virginia Young Readers Award, Middle School Division 1986–1987
12 The Curse of the Blue Figurine Read-Aloud Books Too Good to Miss List (Indiana Library Federation) 1990–1991
13 The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt Iowa Teen Award Nominee 1985–1986
14 The Dark Secret of Weatherend Utah Children's Fiction Book Award Nominee 1987
15 The Eyes of the Killer Robot Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award Nominee (Illinois) 1991
16 The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb Edgar Allan Poe Award, Best Juvenile Division, Nominee 1989
17 The Specter from the Magician's Museum Georgia Author of the Year Award, Young Adult Division 1998
18 The Specter from the Magician's Museum New York Public Library "Best Books for the Teen Age" Awards

Bibliography[edit]

Novels[edit]

# Title Month Year Series # Chapter # Page Author Illustrator
01 St. Fidgeta and Other Parodies Jun 1966 12 123 John Bellairs Marilyn Fitschen
02 The Pedant and the Shuffly Feb 1968 NA 79 John Bellairs Marilyn Fitschen
03 The Face in the Frost 1969 11 174 John Bellairs Marilyn Fitschen
04 The House with a Clock in its Walls Jan 1973 Lewis Barnavelt 11 179 John Bellairs Edward Gorey
05 The Figure in the Shadows 1975 Lewis Barnavelt 13 155 John Bellairs Mercer Mayer
06 The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring Jan 1976 Lewis Barnavelt 13 188 John Bellairs Richard Egielski
07 The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn May 1978 Anthony Monday 17 180 John Bellairs Judith Gwyn Brown
08 The Curse of the Blue Figurine May 1983 Johnny Dixon 12 200 John Bellairs Edward Gorey
09 The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt Nov 1983 Johnny Dixon 16 168 John Bellairs Edward Gorey
10 The Dark Secret of Weatherend Jul 1984 Anthony Monday 15 182 John Bellairs Edward Gorey
11 The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull Nov 1984 Johnny Dixon 11 170 John Bellairs Edward Gorey
12 The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost Nov 1985 Johnny Dixon 15 147 John Bellairs Edward Gorey
13 The Eyes of the Killer Robot Oct 1986 Johnny Dixon 17 167 John Bellairs Edward Gorey
14 The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb May 1988 Anthony Monday 14 168 John Bellairs Edward Gorey
15 The Trolley to Yesterday Jul 1989 Johnny Dixon 18 183 John Bellairs Edward Gorey
16 The Chessmen of Doom Nov 1989 Johnny Dixon 16 155 John Bellairs Edward Gorey
17 The Secret of the Underground Room Mar 1990 Johnny Dixon 13 127 John Bellairs Edward Gorey
18 The Mansion in the Mist Aug 1992 Anthony Monday 17 170 John Bellairs Edward Gorey
19 The Ghost in the Mirror Apr 1993 Lewis Barnavelt 13 169 Co-Authored Edward Gorey
20 The Vengeance of the Witch-finder Sep 1993 Lewis Barnavelt 15 153 Co-Authored Edward Gorey
21 The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie Sep 1994 Johnny Dixon 15 153 Co-Authored Edward Gorey
22 The Doom of the Haunted Opera Sep 1995 Lewis Barnavelt 16 153 Co-Authored Edward Gorey
23 The Hand of the Necromancer Sep 1996 Johnny Dixon 18 168 Brad Strickland Edward Gorey
24 The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder Oct 1997 Johnny Dixon 16 149 Brad Strickland Edward Gorey
25 The Specter from the Magician's Museum Mar 1998 Lewis Barnavelt 16 149 Brad Strickland Edward Gorey
26 The Wrath of the Grinning Ghost Sep 1999 Johnny Dixon 15 166 Brad Strickland Edward Gorey
27 The Beast Under the Wizard's Bridge Sep 2000 Lewis Barnavelt 15 151 Brad Strickland Edward Gorey
28 The Tower at the End of the World Sep 2001 Lewis Barnavelt 15 146 Brad Strickland S. D. Schindler
29 The Whistle, the Grave, and the Ghost Aug 2003 Lewis Barnavelt 14 152 Brad Strickland S. D. Schindler
30 The House Where Nobody Lived Oct 2006 Lewis Barnavelt 18 173 Brad Strickland Bart Goldman
31 The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer Oct 2008 Lewis Barnavelt 13 168 Brad Strickland Bart Goldman

Author of "Co-Authored" denotes books outlined by John Bellairs, completed by Brad Strickland.

Publishers[edit]

# Title Amber Artist House Bantam Skylark/BDD Barnes & Noble Corgi Dell Yearling/BDD Dial/Penguin Editions du Rocher Editora Record Gallimard Jeunesse Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Heyne Macmillan Mythopoeic Press NESFA Press Puffin/Penguin Shueisha Publishing
01 St. Fidgeta and Other Parodies Green tickY
02 The Pedant and the Shuffly Green tickY Green tickY
03 The Face in the Frost Green tickY
04 The House with a Clock in its Walls Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
05 The Figure in the Shadows Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
06 The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
07 The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn Green tickY Green tickY
08 The Curse of the Blue Figurine Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
09 The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
10 The Dark Secret of Weatherend Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
11 The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
12 The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
13 The Eyes of the Killer Robot Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
14 The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
15 The Trolley to Yesterday Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
16 The Chessmen of Doom Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
17 The Secret of the Underground Room Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
18 The Mansion in the Mist Green tickY Green tickY
19 The Ghost in the Mirror Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
20 The Vengeance of the Witch-finder Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
21 The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
22 The Doom of the Haunted Opera Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
23 The Hand of the Necromancer Green tickY Green tickY
24 The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder Green tickY Green tickY
25 The Specter from the Magician's Museum Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
26 The Wrath of the Grinning Ghost Green tickY Green tickY
27 The Beast Under the Wizard's Bridge Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
28 The Tower at the End of the World Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
29 The Whistle, the Grave, and the Ghost Green tickY
30 The House Where Nobody Lived Green tickY
31 The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer Green tickY
32 Magic Mirrors Green tickY
33 The Best of John Bellairs Green tickY
34 The Best of John Bellairs 2 Green tickY

Audiobooks[edit]

# Title Year Publisher Narrator
01 The Face in the Frost 1995 Recorded Books George Guidall
02 The Ghost in the Mirror 1995 Recorded Books George Guidall
03 The House with a Clock in its Walls 1995 Recorded Books George Guidall
04 The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb 1995 Recorded Books Betty Low
05 The Mansion in the Mist 1995 Recorded Books Betty Low

TV shows[edit]

# Show Title Book Title TV Producer Year
01 Once Upon a Midnight Scary The House with a Clock in its Walls VideoGems 1979
02 The Clue According to Sherlock Holmes The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn VideoGems 1980
03 The House with a Clock in its Walls The House with a Clock in its Walls Barr Films 1991
04 The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn Barr Films 1991

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lin Carter, Imaginary Worlds. New York: Ballantine/Random House, 1973 (Cites Carter's correspondence with Bellairs).
  2. ^ "Brad Fischer – Co-President, Production". September 10, 2009. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ Mike Fleming (November 18, 2011). "Phoenix Co-President Bradley Fischer Forms Mythology With Scribes Laeta Kalogridis And James Vanderbilt". Deadline New York. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]