|Born||John Ramsey Campbell
4 January 1946
|Pen name||Carl Dreadstone, Jay Ramsay|
|Occupation||Writer, film & literary critic, editor|
|Genres||Horror, thriller, dark fantasy, science fiction|
Since he first came to prominence in the mid-1960s, critics have cited Campbell as one of the leading writers in his field: T. E. D. Klein has written that "Campbell reigns supreme in the field today", while S. T. Joshi stated, "future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood."
Campbell's childhood and adolescence were marked by the rift between his parents and his mother's developing schizophrenia, an experience he has discussed in detail in the introduction and afterword to the restored text of The Face That Must Die. Although both parents lived in the same house, Campbell states, "I didn't see my father face to face for nearly twenty years, and that was when he was dying." Other autobiographical pieces regarding Campbell's life are available in Section V, "On Ramsey Campbell" in his essay collection Ramsey Campbell, Probably: 30 Years of Essays and Articles (ed. S.T. Joshi) Hornsea, UK: PS Publishing, 2002.
Campbell had already been attracted to the weird field before he read H.P. Lovecraft. His earliest stories, written in 1957-58, when Campbell was but eleven years of age, comprised a collection called Ghostly Tales. (This collection of juvenilia was eventually published as a special issue of Crypt of Cthulhu magazine titled- Ghostly Tales- Crypt of Cthulhu 6, No 8, whole number 50, Michaelmas 1987, edited by Robert M. Price). Another issue of this magazine - Crypt of Cthulhu No 43 (Hallowmas 1983), titled The Tomb-Herd and Others collects various early stories including some early drafts of tales later published revised in Campbell's first book, The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants (Arkham House, 1964).
However, his concept of what was possible in the weird genre changed radically when he discovered Lovecraft's work. Campbell sold various of his early stories to editors including August Derleth and Robert A.W. Lowndes. His first collection, The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants, is a volume of Cthulhu Mythos stories published by Arkham House in 1964. 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 relocated 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. The invented locale of Brichester was deeply influenced by Campbell's native Liverpool, and much of his later work is set in the real locales of Liverpool and Merseyside. In particular, his 2005 novel Secret Stories (published in the U.S. in an abridged edition as Secret Story (2006)) both exemplifies and satirizes Liverpudlian speech, characters, humor, and culture.
With the collection Demons by Daylight (1973), Campbell set out to be as unlike Lovecraft as possible. Having discovered writers such as Vladimir Nabokov and Robert Aickman, he became interested in expanding the stylistic possibilities of his work. In 1969, he had written "Lovecraft in Retrospect", an essay for the fanzine Shadow, "condemning [Lovecraft's] work outright." However, in his 1985 book Cold Print, which collects his Lovecraftian stories, Campbell disavowed the opinions expressed in the article, stating: "I believe Lovecraft is one of the most important writers in the field" and "the first book of Lovecraft's I read made me into a writer." Demons by Daylight includes "The Franklyn Paragraphs", which uses Lovecraft's documentary narrative technique without slipping into parody of his writing style. Other tales, such as "The End of a Summer's Day" and "Concussion", show the emergence of Campbell's highly distinctive mature style, of which S. T. 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.... His eye for the details and resonances of even the most mundane objects, and his ability to express them crisply and almost prose-poetically, give to his work at once a clarity and a dreamlike nebulousness that is difficult to describe but easy to sense.
Subsequently, Campbell has published a number of other collections; many of his most popular stories can be found in the 1993 collection Alone with the Horrors.
Campbell has written many novels, both supernatural and non-supernatural. They include The Face That Must Die (cut by the publisher on its first release in 1979 and issued complete in 1983), the story of a homophobic serial killer told largely from the killer's point of view. A more sympathetic serial murderer appears in the later novel The Count of Eleven (1991), which displays Campbell's gift for word play, and which the author has said is disturbing "because it doesn't stop being funny when you think it should". Other non-supernatural novels, such as The One Safe Place (1995), use a highly charged thriller narrative to examine social problems such as the deprivation and abuse of children.
Campbell's supernatural horror novels include Incarnate (1983), in which the boundaries between dream and reality are gradually broken down; and Midnight Sun (1990), in which an alien entity apparently seeks entry to the world through the mind of a children's writer. In its fusion of horror with awe, Midnight Sun shows the influence of Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen as well as Lovecraft. Having spent a number of months working full-time in a Borders store, he wrote The Overnight (2004), about bookshop staff trapped in their hellish workplace during an overnight shelf-filling shift. Also notable is the novella Needing Ghosts, a nightmarish work that blends the horrific and the comic.
A lifelong enthusiast of film (old movies feature prominently in two of his novels, Ancient Images and The Grin of the Dark), Campbell wrote three novelisations of Universal horror films in 1976. They were published under the house name Carl Dreadstone. It should be noted that three further novelisations which appeared under this house name were not by Campbell but written by other authors. Campbell also contributed numerous articles on horror cinema to The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural (1986) He reviewed films and DVDs weekly for BBC Radio Merseyside until 2007. He writes a monthly film column, "Ramsey´s Ramblings", for Video Watchdog magazine.
Outside the world of horror, he has written a series of fantasy stories starring Ryre the Swordsman, an original creation. Many of these stories were published in the collection Far Away & Never. In 1976 he "completed" three of Robert E. Howard's unfinished Solomon Kane stories, "Hawk of Basti", "The Castle of the Devil" and "The Children of Asshur". He has also written a few works of science fiction, such as the novella Medusa (1973) and the short story "Slow" (collected in Told by the Dead), but has stated that his science fiction "tried to deal with Themes, too consciously, I feel".
Campbell has also edited a number of anthologies, including New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (1980), New Terrors (1980) and (with Stephen Jones) the first five volumes of the annual Best New Horror series (1990–1994). His 1992 anthology Uncanny Banquet was notable for including the first ever reprint of the obscure 1914 horror novel The Hole of the Pit by Adrian Ross.
Ramsey Campbell, Probably, a collection of Campbell's book reviews, film reviews, autobiographical writings and other nonfiction, was published in 2002. The book included reminiscences and appreciations of authors such as John Brunner, Bob Shaw and K. W. Jeter and an extensive, negative critique of Shaun Hutson's Heathen, parodying Hutson's style.
He married Jenny Chandler, daughter of A. Bertram Chandler, on 1 January 1971; has two children, Tamsin (born 1978) and Matthew (born 1981); and still lives on Merseyside.
He is the Lifetime President of the British Fantasy Society.
- The Doll Who Ate His Mother (1976) (revised text, 1985)
- The Bride of Frankenstein (1977) (novelisation of the 1935 film, written as Carl Dreadstone)
- Dracula's Daughter (1977) (novelisation of the 1936 film, written as Carl Dreadstone)
- The Wolf Man (1977) (novelisation of the 1941 film, written as Carl Dreadstone)
- The Face That Must Die (1979) (Restored text: 1983)
- The Parasite (1980) (published in the US with a different ending as To Wake the Dead)
- The Nameless (1981) (filmed in 1999 as The Nameless)
- The Claw (1983) (AKA Night of the Claw, Claw) (written as Jay Ramsay)
- Incarnate (1983)
- Obsession (1985)
- The Hungry Moon (1986)
- The Influence (1988)
- Ancient Images (1989)
- Midnight Sun (1990)
- Needing Ghosts (1990)
- The Count of Eleven (1991)
- The Long Lost (1993)
- The One Safe Place (1995)
- The House on Nazareth Hill (1996) (AKA Nazareth Hill)
- The Last Voice They Hear (1998)
- Silent Children (2000)
- Pact of the Fathers (2001) (filmed in 2002 as Second Name)
- The Darkest Part of the Woods (2003)
- The Overnight (2004)
- Secret Stories (2005) (abridged US edition, Secret Story, 2006)
- The Grin of the Dark (2007)
- Thieving Fear (2008)
- Creatures of the Pool (2009)
- Solomon Kane (movie novelisation, 2010)
- The Seven Days of Cain (2010)
- Ghosts Know (2011)
- The Kind Folk (2012)
- The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants (1964, as J. Ramsey Campbell - reprinted 2011 with bonus material, as by Ramsey Campbell)
- Demons by Daylight (1973)
- The Height of the Scream (1976)
- Dark Companions (1982)
- Cold Print (1985; expanded edition 1993. Contains the stories from The Inhabitant of the Lake as well as later material in the Lovecraft vein)
- The Tomb Herd and others (1986,issue #43 of Crypt of Cthulhu. Contains the stories omitted from Cold Print. All mythos,incl. 2 early versions of his stories and 2 versions of a story set on Tond.)
- Night Visions: The Hellbound Heart (1986. Contains stories by Campbell, Clive Barker and Lisa Tuttle)
- Ghostly Tales (1987, issue #50 of Crypt of Cthulhu. Consists of Campbell's juvenilia as of 1958, with drawings by him to illustrate the stories. Of note is the story The Hollow in the Woods because it uses Shoggoths, and thus can be considered a mythos effort.)
- Dark Feasts: The World of Ramsey Campbell (1987)
- Scared Stiff: Tales of Sex and Death (1987)
- Waking Nightmares (1991)
- Alone with the Horrors (1993)
- Strange Things and Stranger Places (1993)
- Ghosts and Grisly Things (1998)
- Told by the Dead (2003)
- Inconsequential Tales (2008)
- Just Behind You (2009)
- Ramsey Campbell, Probably, ed. S. T. Joshi (2002)
As editor 
- Superhorror (AKA The Far Reaches of Fear) (1976)
- New Terrors (Published in US as two separate volumes, New Terrors 1 and New Terrors 2) (1980)
- New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (1980)
- The Gruesome Book (1983)
- Fine Frights: Stories That Scared Me (1988)
- Best New Horror (with Stephen Jones) (1990)
- Best New Horror 2 (with Stephen Jones) (1991)
- Best New Horror 3 (with Stephen Jones) (1992)
- Uncanny Banquet (1992)
- Best New Horror 4 (with Stephen Jones) (1993)
- Deathport (1993)
- Best New Horror 5 (with Stephen Jones) (1994)
- Meddling With Ghosts: Stories in the Tradition of M.R. James (2002)
- Gathering the Bones (with Jack Dann and Dennis Etchison) (2003)
Critical studies 
Gary William Crawford's reader's guide to Campbell, Ramsey Campbell (1988), provides an overview of his work up to 1987. There is an extensive critical analysis of Campbell's work in S. T. Joshi's book The Modern Weird Tale (2001), and an essay on his later work in Classics and Contemporaries (2009). Joshi has also written a book-length study, Ramsey Campbell and Modern Horror Fiction (2001), and edited The Count of Thirty (Necronomicon Press 1994), which contains critical appreciations by various authors and a long interview with Campbell himself.
Selected literary awards 
- 1976 The Doll Who Ate His Mother, World Fantasy Award nominee, Best Novel
- 1978 "The Chimney", World Fantasy Award winner, Best Short Story
- 1978 "In The Bag", British Fantasy Award winner, Best Short Story
- 1980 "Mackintosh Willy", World Fantasy Award winner, Best Short Story 
- 1981 To Wake the Dead (later, the Parasite), British Fantasy Award winner, Best Novel
- 1982 The Nameless, World Fantasy Award nominee, Best Novel
- 1985 Incarnate, British Fantasy Award winner, Best Novel
- 1988 The Hungry Moon, British Fantasy Award winner, Best Novel
- 1989 The Influence, British Fantasy Award winner, Best Novel
- 1989 Ancient Images, Bram Stoker Award winner, Best Novel
- 1991 Midnight Sun, British Fantasy Award winner, Best Novel
- 1992 The Count of Eleven, British Fantasy Award nominee
- 1994 Alone with the Horrors, Stoker Award of the Horror Writers of America winner, Best Collection; World Fantasy Award winner, Best Collection
- 1994 The Long Lost, British Fantasy Award winner, Best Novel
- 1998 The House on Nazareth Hill, International Horror Guild winner, Best Novel; British Fantasy Award nominee, Best Novel
- 1999 Ghosts and Grisly Things, British Fantasy Award winner, Best Collection
- 2001 Silent Children, British Fantasy Award nominee, Best Novel
- 2003 Told by the Dead, British Fantasy Award winner, Best Collection
- 2003 The Darkest Part of the Woods, British Fantasy award nominee, Best Novel
- 2006 Secret Story, British Fantasy Award nominee, Best Novel
- 2008 Grin of the Dark, British Fantasy Society winner, Best Novel
- 2009 Thieving Fear, British Fantasy Society nominee, Best Novel
See also 
- Klein, T. E. D. "Ramsey Campbell: An Appreciation", quoted in Ramsey Campbell and Modern Horror Fiction (Liverpool University Press, 2001) by S. T. Joshi
- Joshi, S. T. "S. T. Joshi Interview". The Temple of Dagon. Retrieved 2007-09-19.
- Campbell, Ramsey. "At the Back of My Mind: A Guided Tour", introduction to The Face That Must Die (1990), pp.vii-xxv, and Afterword (pp.236-238). ISBN 0-7088-4394-8
- Campbell, Ramsey. "Chasing the Unknown", introduction to Cold Print (1993), pp.11-13. ISBN 0-8125-1660-5
- Joshi, S. T., Classics and Contemporaries, Hippocampus Press 2009, p.131.
- Campbell, Ramsey. "Lovecraft in Retrospect", Shadow 8 (1969).
- "Chasing the Unknown", p.16.
- Campbell, Ramsey. "Lovecraft: An Introduction", Cold Print (1993), p. 1.
- "Chasing the Unknown", p. 9.
- Joshi, S. T. The Modern Weird Tale (2001), p. 166.
- Campbell, Ramsey, interviewed in The Count of Thirty (1994).
- Joshi, S. T., Ramsey Campbell and Modern Horror Fiction (2001), p.145-147.
- Campbell, Ramsey. Introduction to Strange Things and Stranger Places (1993), quoted in S. T. Joshi, Ramsey Campbell and Modern Horror Fiction (2001), p.150.
- "1976 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- World Fantasy Convention. "Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved 04 Feb 2011.
- "1981 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "1982 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "1985 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "1988 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "1989 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "1991 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "1992 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "1994 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "1998 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "2001 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "2003 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "2006 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "2008 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "2009 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
Further reading 
- Ashley, Michael. Fantasy Reader's Guide to Ramsey Campbell. San Bernardino, CA: Borgo Press, 1980. (Originally published as Fantasy Reader's Guide No 2: The File on Ramsey Campbell by Cosmos Literary Agency, Wallsend, Co. Tyne and Wear, UK, 1980). Includes, amongst other material, the important early appreciation of Campbell's work by T.E.D. Klein, "Ramsey Campbell: An Appreciation", which had originally appeared in Nyctalops magazine; two stories by Campbell ("Before the Storm" and The Gap"), "As Far as I Can Recall" by Campbell (autobiographical essay); and Mike Ashley's bibliography on Campbell which was not superseded until The Core of Ramsey Campbell (1995).
- Campbell, Ramsey; Stefan Dziemanowicz and S.T. Joshi. The Core of Ramsey Campbell: A Bibliography & Reader's Guide. Introduction "The One, The Only R.C., Then Now and Forever" by Peter Straub. West Warwick, RI: Necronomicon Press, 1995. ISBN 0-940884-79-8. Comprehensive annotated bibliography.
- Cooke, Jon B. (ed). Tekeli-li! Journal of Terror No 3 (Fall 1991). Special Ramsey Campbell Number. Includes essay "The Illusion of Control" by Stefan R. Dziemanowicz; his interview "The Ramsey Campbell Interview" (this appears expanded in Joshi, ed, The Count of Thirty); "Forty-One", a chapter of the novel The Count of Eleven.
- Crawford, Gary William. Ramsey Campbell. (Starmont Reader's Guide No 48). San Bernadiono, CA: Borgo Press, 1988. (Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, 1988). Standalone study of Campbell's work until 1988. Includes short primary and secondary bibliography.
- Crawford, Gary William. "Urban Gothic: The Fiction of Ramsey Campbell", in Darrell Schweitzer ed., Discovering Modern Horror Fiction, Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, July 1985, pp. 13–20.
- Joshi, S. T. (ed) The Count of Thirty: A Tribute to Ramsey Campbell. West Warwick, RI: Necronomicon Press, 1993. Critical essays on Campbell by Joshi, Simon MacCulloch, and Joel Lane, with an interview by Stefan Dziemianowicz. Includes primary bibliography of books written and edited by Campbell.
- Joshi, S. T. Ramsey Campbell and Modern Horror Fiction. UK: Liverpool University Press, 2001. In-depth critical study of Campbell until 2001. Includes primary and secondary bibliography.
- RamseyCampbell.com; official website
- Ramsey Campbell: Short Story Bibliography
- Database of secondary sources
- Ramsey Campbell at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- The Ramsey Campbell Archive at the University of Liverpool
- 2009 interview with Horror Bound Magazine
- "Ramsey Campbell: A Demon by Daylight", Interview with Cold Print
- 2007 interview with Liverpool's Nerve magazine
- 2008 interview with WritersNewsWeekly.com