Ray Russell

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Ray Russell (4 September 1924 – 15 March 1999) was a Chicago-born[1] American writer of short stories, novels, and screenplays. .[2][3] Russell is best-known for his horror fiction, although he also wrote mystery and science fiction stories. [4]

His most famous short fiction is "Sardonicus", which appeared in the January 1961 issue of Playboy magazine, and was subsequently adapted by Russell into a screenplay for William Castle's film version, titled Mr. Sardonicus. American writer Stephen King called "Sardonicus" "perhaps the finest example of the modern gothic ever written".[2] "Sardonicus" was part of a trio of stories with "Sanguinarius" and "Sagittarius".

Russell's first novel was The Case Against Satan (1963), about a young girl possessed by a demon. It was published almost a decade before a more famous novel with a similar plot, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty.[3][5] Darrell Schweitzer described The Case Against Satan as "a Catholic Turn of the Screw" and said the novel "succeeded brilliantly" in making the concept of the Devil frightening to modern readers.[5]

In the 1950s, Russell began working for Playboy magazine as a fiction editor. In this capacity Russell published a large amount of science fiction, fantasy and horror in the magazine; Russell also encouraged and promoted the fiction of Charles Beaumont.[3]

Russell was also one of the screenwriters for Roger Corman's X (also known as X: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes) and The Premature Burial (based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story).

In 1991 Russell received the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.[6]


  • Sardonicus and Other Stories (1961)
  • The Case Against Satan (1963)
  • Unholy Trinity (1964)
  • The Little Lexicon of Love (1966)
  • The Colony (1969)
  • Sagittarius (Playboy Science Fiction/Fantasy, 1971)
  • Prince of Darkness (1971)
  • Incubus (1976)
  • Holy Horatio! (1976)
  • Princess Pamela (1979)
  • The Devil's Mirror (1980)
  • The Book of Hell (1980)
  • The Bishop's Daughter (1981)
  • Haunted Castles: The Complete Gothic Tales of Ray Russell (1985)
  • Absolute Power (1992)

Short stories[edit]

  • "Sardonicus"
  • "Comet Wine"
  • "The Actor"
  • "The Cage"
  • "The Exploits of Argo"
  • "The Sword of Laertes"
  • "Montage"
  • "Booked Solid"
  • "Take A Deep Breath"
  • "The Pleasure Was Ours"
  • "The Room"
  • "I Am Returning"
  • "Incommunicado"
  • "His Father's House"
  • "Last Will And Testament"
  • "The Rosebud"
  • "London Calling"
  • "Ounce of Prevention"
  • "Xong of Xuxan"
  • "Space Opera"



  1. ^ "Obituary: Ray Russell". Independent. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Obituary: Ray Russell". The New York Times, 22 March 1999 Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Chris Morgan, "Russell, Ray (Robert)" in Pringle, David. 1998. St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers. Detroit, MI: St. James Press,(p.494-6).ISBN 9781558622067
  4. ^ Ellery Queen, Ellery Queen's mystery anthology, Volume 28. New York : Dial Press, 1974 (p.227)
  5. ^ a b Darrell Schweitzer, "The Devil" in S. T. Joshi, ed., Icons of Horror and the Supernatural: an Encyclopedia of our Worst Nightmares (Greenwood, 2007), (p. 161-186) ISBN 0313337810
  6. ^ World Fantasy Convention. "Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved 4 Feb 2011. 

External links[edit]