The world-renowned novelist changed the game for gothic literature.

Anne Rice, whose vampire fiction and other stories of the sexy supernatural enchanted readers ever since her 1976 debut novel, Interview With the Vampire, died Saturday at her home in New Orleans due to complications from a stroke. She was 80.

Rice's son Christopher announced her death on social media, writing, "Earlier tonight, my mother, Anne Rice, passed away due to complications resulting from a stroke. She left us almost nineteen years to the day my father, her husband Stan, died."

Rice's publisher, Penguin Random House, said it was "deeply saddened" by the author's death and provided a statement from her longtime (and only) editor, Victoria Wilson.

"Anne was a fierce storyteller who wrote large, lived quietly, and imagined worlds on a grand scale," Wilson said. "She summoned the feelings of an age long before we knew what they were. As a writer, she was decades ahead of her time. As a longtime friend, she loved and was beloved by everyone who worked with her at this house. The world will miss her and continue to know her again and again through the lives she imagined."

Author Anne Rice signs books during Entertainment Weekly's PopFest at The Reef on October 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
Anne Rice
| Credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty

Born and raised in New Orleans, Rice set many of her most celebrated novels in her hometown, including Interview and the Lives of the Mayfair Witches series. Though she grew up Catholic, she abandoned organized religion while studying at San Francisco State University in the '60s. She married poet Stan Rice in 1961, and the couple had two children: Christopher, a fellow novelist, and daughter Michele, who died at age 5 from leukemia.

Interview With the Vampire "poured out" of Rice after the death of her daughter, she told EW in 2005. In the decades following the book's success, she published dozens more enormously popular novels — some under the pseudonyms Anne Rampling and A.N. Roquelaure — including the erotic Sleeping Beauty books and the Vampire Chronicles, the latter series of which begins with Interview and follows the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (played by Tom Cruise in Neil Jordan's 1994 film adaptation of Interview With the Vampire, for which Rice wrote the screenplay).

Rice returned to the Catholic Church in the late '90s, at which time she moved away from vampire fiction and started exploring religious topics with her Christ the Lord series, her Songs of the Seraphim series, and a memoir of her spiritual transformation, Called Out of Darkness. In 2010, however, she posted to her Facebook page, where she was very active, that though she remained "committed to Christ as always," she was leaving the Church once again because "my conscience will allow nothing else."

Rice's split from the church marked her return to gothic literature: 2012 brought the first book of the Wolf Gift Chronicles, which focused on werewolves, and in 2014, she revisited the bloodsucking antihero that made her famous with Prince Lestat.

In a 2009 interview, EW asked Rice what made her vision of vampires unique. "Their glamour," she said. "I thought to myself, 'Why should this supernatural being be repulsive? Why should he be feral like Dracula? What if he was more like a dark angel?'" Now, decades after her Lestat first entered our cultural consciousness, "no one would even question vampires being beautiful and magnetic." 

In his tribute post, Christopher Rice revealed that a celebration for his mother's life will take place next year in New Orleans, adding that "the event will be open to the public and will invite the participation of her friends, readers, readers and fans who brought her such joy and inspiration throughout her life."

Knopf also said that Rames The Damned: The Reign of Osiris, which Rice co-wrote with her son, would be published as planned in February 2022.

Rice has left an indelible mark on gothic fiction, the entire vampire mythology, and our collective romantic vision of the American South. She will be greatly missed, but her legacy will live on for as long as her undead heroes do. The literary world has lost one of its immortals.  

Related content:

Comments have been disabled on this post