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5 Authors like Edgar Allan Poe: The Masters of Horror

James Holloway itcherCrumbling mansions, eerie basements and shadow-haunted ruins are all hallmarks of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, the grandfather of modern horror fiction. Although Poe casts a long shadow over horror, he’s not the only early titan you should read. ~ James Holloway

Tales of the Macabre

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity…

Tales like ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ ‘The Fall of the House of Usher,’ ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ and ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ have cemented Edgar Allan Poe’s reputation as the founder of the modern horror genre. Some of Poe’s stories may seem a little cliché to modern eyes, but that’s not because the author’s writing was unoriginal – it’s because generations of subsequent writers have been copying him.

If you want to experience more classic horror, get acquainted with some of these other authors like Edgar Allan Poe.


Authors Like Edgar Allan Poe…

Arthur Machen

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But you and I, at all events, have known something of the terror that may dwell in the secret place of life…

Recommended Book: ‘The Great God Pan’ (1894)

Arthur Machen’s fantastic Gothic fiction was considered scandalous in the 19th century, but he was rediscovered in the 1920s. Stories like ‘The Three Impostors,’ ‘The Hill of Dreams’ and ‘The White People’ deal with buried sins, dark unconscious impulses and the survival of strange, prehuman creatures. The atmosphere is weird and decadent, drawing on Machen’s knowledge of mythology and the occult.

Similarity Match: 90%
Machen’s work is more grounded in British folklore and society than Poe’s generically Gothic setting, but the two have many similarities.

Algernon Blackwood

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Certain houses, like certain persons, manage somehow to proclaim at once their character for evil…

Recommended Book: ‘The Willows’ (1907)

Even Algernon Blackwood didn’t know how many stories he’d written, but he was a tremendously prolific author, producing classics like ‘The Wendigo,’ ‘The Listener’ and ‘The Lost Valley.’ For Blackwood, ghosts and monsters represent the powers ‘hidden in us all.’ Blackwood’s output includes not only eerie tales of the macabre but also humorous short stories like ‘The Paper Man.’

Similarity Match: 80%
Like Poe, Blackwood set the standard for subsequent ghost storytellers. Unlike Poe, who died at 40, he had a persistent career, writing into the late 1920s and being reprinted for decades after that.

H. P. Lovecraft

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The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown…

Recommended Book: ‘The Colour Out of Space’ (1927)

If Edgar Allan Poe is the grandfather of modern horror, H. P. Lovecraft is the father. Rejecting traditional ghosts, vampires and werewolves (mostly), Lovecraft created a vast new “anti-mythology” featuring alien creatures from beyond human ken. Lovecraft’s stories, including ‘The Call of Cthulhu,’ ‘The Dunwich Horror’ and ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth,’ have inspired films, games, music and toys, creating generations of fans and followers who produce their own ‘Cthulhu Mythos’ work.

Similarity Match: 70%
Poe was a huge influence on Lovecraft, who described some of his early works as ‘Poe stories.’ However, as his career progressed, Lovecraft began to establish a unique, distinctive storytelling style quite different from Poe’s.

Shirley Jackson

Image Source: wikimedia

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality…

Recommended Book: ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ (1959)

Shirley Jackson wasn’t only a horror writer, but much of her work – including her famous short story, ‘The Lottery,’ – focuses on the terrible things people are capable of when they give themselves permission. ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ is a gothic ghost story – or is it? – that’s been adapted for the screen twice. Check out the 1963 version if you want to see the story on the screen; the 1999 remake is less gripping.

Similarity Match: 70%
Like Poe, Jackson plays around with ideas from traditional horror tales. However, her understated style is a sharp contrast to his over-the-top Romanticism.


If You Like Edgar Allan Poe, You Will Like…

Together with Lovecraft, Poe towers over the history of horror fiction. Today’s horror writers like Edgar Allan Poe draw on his influence to craft tales that combine the classic concepts with modern sensibilities.

Thomas Ligotti

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We may hide from horror only in the heart of horror…

Recommended Book: ‘The Last Feast of Harlequin’ (1991)

Thomas Ligotti’s work has been described as ‘philosophical horror’ – moody, dark and nihilistic, it draws heavily on the philosophy of H. P. Lovecraft. Ligotti tells stories of the aimless, the lost and the grotesque, giving them a certain shadowy beauty even as they spiral down into inevitable destruction.

Although Lovecraft is Ligotti’s most obvious influence, his dark and dreary aesthetic sense owes a lot to Poe.

Honorable Mentions

Almost any author who has ever written horror or mystery fiction shows some influence from Poe. Other successors include:

  • Arthur Conan Doyle, who often admitted that Poe’s mysteries inspired Sherlock Holmes.
  • R. James, the master of the antiquarian ghost story.

Forbidden Lore

Despite his short life, Poe influenced generations of writers who came after him. Whether you’ve ever read a Poe story or not, the fact is that you’re living in a literary world he helped create. That would please him – and it should unnerve you just a little.

Have I overlooked any of Poe’s disciples?

Leave a comment and add any author like Edgar Allan Poe you may know!

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