R.I.P James Herbert, 8 April 1943 – 20 March 2013

James Herbert

I’ve just came home to learn of the passing of horror legend and influence to so many of us, James Herbert. I was fortunate enough to speak with the great man himself earlier last year. James was an absolute gentleman, an inspiration and one of the friendliest men you could meet. The world is a lesser place without him.

Please send in your tributes to Michael@ThisIsHorror.co.uk we will be updating the page with messages from authors and fans alike.


James Herbert tributes

Remembering James Herbert, a tribute by Michael Wilson
Shaun Hamilton pays tribute to James Herbert
Mark West pays tribute to James Herbert
John Llewellyn Probert pays tribute to James Herbert
Simon Bestwick pays tribute to James Herbert
David Moody pays tribute to James Herbert

On March 20 I received news of the death of James Herbert. I’d known Jim, believe it or not, for over 20 years and in that time he became what I will always consider as one of my few genuine true friends in the horror game, along with his dear charming wife Eileen. Jim always had plenty of advice and encouragement for me (not to mention some very kind things to say about my own stories and books), and I admired his character tremendously. Like me, he was of the belief that actually getting on with writing was more important than sitting round talking about it, and that one of the best things a writer can do when he puts down the pen is to live a real life. I know he was happy in his. I’ll miss you Jim, but I’ve no doubt we’ll meet again!


James Herbert was my first taste of horror set in the familiar world of modern day Britain and it was definitely my first exposure to real, adult horror complete with sex, violence and flawed people. I read The Rats when I was eleven (my mum told me I couldn’t read it, so I waited until she was out and sped through it over the course of a day, convinced she’d come home at any minute and find me reading this taboo book). After that, I went through all his early classics and caught up with his then new books. While his output slowed down a little over recent years, each new book was a release to look forward to – not only as a reader but as a writer.

Mr Herbert was an inspiration to me as a writer and a great pleasure to experience as a reader. He will be missed.


My father died this same week and I am very sorry for the loss of the Herbert family and the grief they will be enduring. I’m also sorry for the loss of the leading voice in British horror fiction. His stories were uniquely British, reminiscent of the mist-shrouded Hammer classics, but with contemporary settings and characters that James painted with an artist’s eye. He also wrote extensively on the supernatural, not just the dark side of horror, but the concept of an after-existence, central to the conflicts and redemptions in many of his stories. I hope this provides comfort to those who wonder what happens to their loved ones  and themselves   when they pass on, as we all must do.


Jim Herbert was one of the keystone authors in a genre that had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s a true testament to his writing and his enduring creativity that his books continued to be huge bestsellers right up until his death. He has the rare distinction that his novels were considered classics of the genre within his lifetime. His death marks the passing of one of the giants of popular fiction in the 20th century.

Jeremy Trevathan, James Herbert’s Publisher via James Herbert’s Facebook

James Herbert was one of my earliest influences, not only in terms of writing, but for giving me a glimpse in high school of a darker adult world. The Rats, Shrine, Moon, The Magic Cottage – all of these books fired my imagination and stirred me to contemplate the ‘other’. Of course, none of the teachers knew what I was reading. If they had, they might have had something to say about it: demonic possession, knife wielding maniacs, sinister magic, with all Herbert’s tasty trappings of sex and violence. Perhaps those books weren’t meant for kids. Perhaps that’s partly why so many kids sought them out and secretly adored them. One thing was sure: we had the edge on our classmates reading less provocative works. We dreamed deeper and darker.

Many of Herbert’s books stayed with me and I read his further works into adult life. A little ashamed to admit this here, but when I was 14, I used to lie on my bed and place my fingers over Herbert’s name on the book cover, imagining my own in his place. Not out of arrogance or disrespect, but out of inspiration. Herbert was one of the first authors that made me want to write, and dream of being an author, and also to sense that my stuff was always going to travel on the dark side.

 You can’t say that about every author.

R.I.P James Herbert. The world will remember you as a genre giant. Thank you for the shadows.


Without this man I would never have discovered the sheer joy of reading horror. I found my Mom’s copy of The Dark at the tender age of 11 (she used to hide her books from us).  My brother and I then used my Mom’s library ticket to get The Rats and The Fog. Memories of James Herbert’s early work are very much tied into my fondest childhood memories. Waiting for our Mom to go out so we could read a few chapters. Talking about it. Scaring ourselves. Re-reading the ‘rude’ parts! Okay so I’ve had many sleepless nights thanks to this introduction but how much richer my life has been. R.I.P The King of British Horror.


Today is a very sad day for horror. As a child with a library-card and a fascination with darker fiction, one of the first books I read and enjoyed, a thousand times more than those forced upon us at school, was The Rats by a man called James Herbert. After that, I read every Herbert book I could get my grubby little mitts on. He inspired me, both as a reader and a writer, and although I never had the pleasure of meeting him, I feel as if I’ve lost something dear to me. R.I.P James Herbert. The world is a much darker place without you in it.


I was truly shocked and saddened to hear about the tragic death of James Herbert.  He was a huge inspiration to me when I first started writing horror, as a teenager in the 80s.  An entire row of his books line my book shelf.
I never met him face to face, but I have read so many of his books over the years I feel I know him.    There’s a big gap in the horror world now that will never be filled.
Rest in peace, Jim.


I first started reading adult horror when I was 12 and I started with The Magic Cottage by James Herbert. It had a big impact on me. I devoured the rest of his backlist and waited eagerly for his forthcoming releases. Since entering the book trade at 18 I have always been an avid pusher of his books. When Once came out in 2001 we were lucky to get 3 very rare statues of a goblin that feautred in the book – I still have mine and it takes pride of place on my bookshelf. In 2003 for Nobody True I had the honuor of conducting a short interview with him. Last year after being pipped to the post to get an event with him my fantastic MacMillan rep got me a personalised signed copy of Ash. So many years of wonderful memories. I will always cherish my Herbert collection and ensure I turn more new readers on to the legacy. I will miss him very much. Thank you Mr Herbert for all the nightmares.


Other websites pay tribute to James Herbert

BBC News – James Herbert: UK horror author dies aged 69
The Guardian – James Herbert dies aged 69
Huffington Post – British horror author James Herbert dies aged 69
Mirror – One of the giants of popular fiction: Horror author James Herbert dies aged 69
The Bookseller – James Herbert dies
The Guardian – From the archive: James Herbert on rats and redemption

The Guardian Express – James Herbert Dead 69
Matthew Fryer – James Herbert 1943 2013
The Telegraph – James Herbert: ‘The Fog has dispersed, Crickley Hall stands silent’

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  1. I am absolutely gutted.
    My first horror author was Stephen King as a small child but then I discovered Creed by Herbert, the true master of the horror genre.
    I have read all of his except for ASH which I only just brought today coincidentally.
    May he rest in peace and long may he continue to inspire and to scare those in the world of horror.

    • Chris Smith on March 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm
    • Reply

    RIP to a horror writer who will always be a legend

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