|Born||John Anthony Bellairs|
January 17, 1938
Marshall, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||March 8, 1991 (aged 53)|
Haverhill, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Education||University of Notre Dame, University of Chicago|
|Genre||Fantasy, horror, humor|
John Anthony Bellairs (January 17, 1938 – March 8, 1991) was an American author, best known for his fantasy novel The Face in the Frost and many gothic mystery novels for young adults featuring the characters Lewis Barnavelt, Rose Rita Pottinger, Anthony Monday, and Johnny Dixon.
Life and career
Bellairs was born in Marshall, Michigan, the son of Virginia (Monk) and Frank Edward Bellairs. 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.
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.
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. 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.
Bellairs's next novel, The House with a Clock in Its Walls (1973), was originally composed as a contemporary adult fantasy, but at the time there was little market for the sub-genre. 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, as he 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, and the former for film in 2018. A number of books have also been released in such languages as German, French, Japanese, and Polish, among others.
Death and afterward
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, which was published on October 5, 2006.
Edward Gorey provided cover illustrations and frontispieces for all but three of Bellairs' 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. 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 three books, "St Fidgeta and Other Parodies", "The Pedant and the Shuffly" and "The Face in the Frost."
On November 18, 2011, Mythology Entertainment, founded by Brad Fischer, 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.”
The film adaptation of Bellairs' novel, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, stars Jack Black as Uncle Jonathan, Cate Blanchett as Mrs. Zimmerman, and Owen Vaccaro as Lewis Barnavelt, and was directed by Eli Roth. It was released on September 21, 2018.
|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|
|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||coauthors||Edward Gorey|
|20||The Vengeance of the Witch-finder||Sep||1993||Lewis Barnavelt||15||153||coauthors||Edward Gorey|
|21||The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie||Sep||1994||Johnny Dixon||15||153||coauthors||Edward Gorey|
|22||The Doom of the Haunted Opera||Sep||1995||Lewis Barnavelt||16||153||coauthors||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|
- Some Lewis Barnavelt and Johnny Dixon books were outlined by Bellairs and completed by Strickland, who subsequently created new stories in both series.
|#||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|
|02||The Pedant and the Shuffly|
|03||The Face in the Frost|
|04||The House with a Clock in Its Walls|
|05||The Figure in the Shadows|
|06||The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring|
|07||The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn|
|08||The Curse of the Blue Figurine|
|09||The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt|
|10||The Dark Secret of Weatherend|
|11||The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull|
|12||The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost|
|13||The Eyes of the Killer Robot|
|14||The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb|
|15||The Trolley to Yesterday|
|16||The Chessmen of Doom|
|17||The Secret of the Underground Room|
|18||The Mansion in the Mist|
|19||The Ghost in the Mirror|
|20||The Vengeance of the Witch-finder|
|21||The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie|
|22||The Doom of the Haunted Opera|
|23||The Hand of the Necromancer|
|24||The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder|
|25||The Specter from the Magician's Museum|
|26||The Wrath of the Grinning Ghost|
|27||The Beast Under the Wizard's Bridge|
|28||The Tower at the End of the World|
|29||The Whistle, the Grave, and the Ghost|
|30||The House Where Nobody Lived|
|31||The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer|
|33||The Best of John Bellairs|
|34||The Best of John Bellairs 2|
|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 program title||Book title||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|
- Lewis Barnavelt (series)
- Johnny Dixon (series)
- Anthony Monday (series)
- List of horror fiction authors
- Lin Carter, Imaginary Worlds. New York: Ballantine/Random House, 1973, pp. 1165-67 (Cites Carter's correspondence with Bellairs).
- "Brad Fischer – Co-President, Production". September 10, 2009. Archived from the original on March 17, 2012. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
- 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.
- Lizzie Plaugic (March 27, 2018). "Watch the first trailer for The House with a Clock in its Walls". The Verge. Retrieved March 27, 2018.