In her fiction, Anne Rice (born 1941) seduces her readers through an ornate prose style and a painstaking attention to detail. With her careful blend of accurate historical elements with such themes as alienation and the individual's search for identity, she has acquired a legion of devoted fans.
Anne Rice was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 4, 1941. She was originally named Howard Allen O'Brien (her father's first name was Howard and her mother's maiden name was Allen), but she disliked this name from an early age and it was legally changed when she was seven years old. Rice's father was a postal worker who also worked on sculpture and writing. Rice lost her mother, an alcoholic, when she was fourteen, and the family moved to Texas. Throughout her childhood Rice attended a Catholic church, but abandoned it when she was eighteen because she felt it was too repressive. She married her high school sweetheart, the poet Stan Rice, when she was twenty, and she held a variety of jobs, including cook, waitress, and insurance claims adjuster. She gave birth to a daughter, and wrote sporadically during these years; but when her daughter died of leukemia at the age of five, Rice channeled her grief into her first vampire novel, Interview with the Vampire, which she completed in only six weeks. The book was deemed a success, but Rice's depression was severe enough to cause her and her husband to drink heavily. Though she continued to write, and even completed The Feast of All Saints, their productivity was limited until their son was born. Finally overcoming her alcohol problem, Rice continued to write more vampire novels, as well as several volumes of erotica, and a new series involving a sect of witches in New Orleans.
The success of Interview with a Vampire spurred more vampire books based on secondary characters in her original book; these include The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned, Tale of the Body Thief, and Memnoch the Devil. Under the pseudonyms Anne Rampling and A. N. Roquelaure, she wrote several volumes of lightly sadistic erotica, including a trilogy based on the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty.
Although some readers find Rice's subject matter disturbing, others take great interest in her treatment of otherworldly beings. Critics have compared her Vampire Chronicles favorably with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and several have commented on her ability to use language to convey different moods. Many reviewers have said that the popularity of Rice's books lies not only in her skill as a storyteller, but with the lurid fascination readers have with such creatures as vampires, mummies, and witches.
Further Reading on Anne Rice
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 41, Gale, 1987.
Ramsland, Katherine, Prism of the Night: A Biography of Anne Rice, Dutton, 1991.
Rice, Anne, Interview with the Vampire, Knopf, 1976.
Rice, Anne, The Queen of the Damned, Knopf, 1988.
Book-of-the-Month Club News, December, 1990.
Chicago Tribune Book World, January 27, 1980; February 10, 1980.
Globe and Mail (Toronto), March 15, 1986; November 5, 1988.