Horror in Ancient Greece and Rome
The genre of horror has ancient origins with roots in folklore and religious traditions, focusing on death, the afterlife, evil, the demonic and the principle of the thing embodied in the person.
 These were manifested in stories of beings such as
ghosts. European horror fiction became established through works by the
Ancient Greeks and
Ancient Romans. In
Prometheus was a
Titan who was the inspiration for the title of
Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.
Prometheus' earliest known appearance is in
 However, the story of
Frankenstein was influenced far greater on the story of
Asclepius revived Hippolytus from death.
Euripides wrote plays based on the story, "Hippolytos Kalyptomenos" and "
Plutarch's "The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans:
Cimon" describes the spirit of the
murderer,Damon , who himself was murdered in a
Pliny the Younger describes
Athenodorus Cananites who bought a
haunted house in Athens. Athenodorus was cautious since the house was inexpensive. As Athenodorus writes a book a philosophy, he is visited by an aberration bound in
chains. The figure disappears in the
courtyard; the following day, the
magistrates dig up the courtyard to find an unmarked
Horror in the Medieval Era
The establishment of
Rome was confirmed by the
Edict of Milan in 313 A.D., and thus revolutionized the
religious landscape of
Europe. The revolt by the
Germanic believers of
Gothic paganism, earned them a reputation amongst several early writers and their texts, such as Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Vita Gallienii.
 The earliest recording of an official accusation of
Satanism by the
Roman Catholics took place in
Toulouse in 1022 A.D. against a couple of clerics.
Werewolf stories grew in popularity in
French literature of
Marie de France wrote one of the twelve
lais as a werewolf story entitled "
The Countess Yolande commissioned a
werewolf story entitled "
Guillaume de Palerme."
Anonymous writers penned two werewolf stories, "Biclarel" and "
Melion." Much of horror fiction derived itself from the cruelest faces in world history, particularly those who lived in the fifteenth-century. "
Dracula" can be traced to the Prince of
Vlad III whose alleged
war crimes were published in
German pamphlets in the late Fifteenth Century. The 1499 pamphlet published by Markus Ayrer is most notable for its
 The alleged crimes of the
Giles de Rais were said to be the inspiration for "
 The vampiress is most notably derived from the real life noblewoman and murderess,
Elizabeth Bathory in popular culture helped usher in the emergence of horror fiction in the 18th-Century, such as through László Turóczi in his 1729 book, "Tragica Historia."
Gothic horror in the 18th century
Eighteenth Century slowly directed the horror genre into traditional Gothic literature. 18th century
Gothic horror drew on these sources with the seminal and controversial
The Castle of Otranto (1764) by English author
Horace Walpole. This marked the first incorporated elements of the
supernatural instead of pure
realism. In fact, the first edition was published disguised as an actual medieval romance from Italy discovered and republished by a fictitious translator.
 Once revealed as contemporary, many found it
reactionary, or simply in poor taste — but it proved to be immediately popular.
 That first novel of Gothic horror inspired such works as
Vathek (1786) by
A Sicilian Romance (1790),
The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and
The Italian (1796) by
Ann Radcliffe and
The Monk (1797) by
 A significant amount of horror fiction of this era was written by women and marketed at a female audience, a typical scenario being a resourceful female menaced in a gloomy castle.
Horror in the 19th century
The Gothic tradition blossomed into the genre modern readers call horror literature in the 19th century. Influential works and characters that continue resonating with film and cinema today saw their genesis in such works as the
Brothers Grimm's "
Hänsel und Gretel" (1812),
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820),
Jane C. Loudon's "
The Mummy!: Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century" (1827),
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831),
Thomas Peckett Prest's
Varney the Vampire (1847),
The Scarlet Letter (1850), the works of
Edgar Allan Poe, the works of
Sheridan Le Fanu,
Robert Louis Stevenson's
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886),
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890),
H. G. Wells'
The Invisible Man (1897), and
Dracula (1897). Each of these novels and
novellas created an enduring icon of horror seen in modern re-imaginings on the stage and screen.
Horror in the 20th century
The proliferation of cheap periodicals, as early as the turn of the century, led to a boom in horror writing. For example,
Gaston Leroux serialized his "
Le Fantôme de l'Opéra" before it was a novel in 1910. One writer who specialized in horror fiction for mainstream pulps such as
All-Story Magazine was
Tod Robbins, whose fiction dealt with themes of madness and cruelty.
 Later, specialist publications emerged to give horror writers an outlet, including
Influential horror writers of the early 20th century made inroads in these mediums. Particularly, the venerated horror author
H. P. Lovecraft, and his enduring
Cthulhu Mythos pioneered the genre of
cosmic horror, and
M. R. James is credited with redefining the
ghost story in that era.
serial murderer became a recurring theme in horror fiction.
Yellow journalism and
sensationalism of various murderers, such as
Jack the Ripper, and lesser so,
Fritz Haarman, and
Albert Fish, all perpetuated this phenomenon. An example of this is found in
Charles S. Belden's unpublished 1932 short story, "The Wax Works." The trend continued in the postwar era, partly renewed after the murders committed by
Ed Gein. In 1959,
Robert Bloch, inspired by the murders, wrote
Psycho. The murders committed by
Charles Schmid inspired
Joyce Carol Oates to publish the short story, "
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" In 1969, the crimes of the
Manson family further influenced the slasher theme in horror fiction of the 1970s. In 1981,
Thomas Harris wrote
Red Dragon as the first novel to introduce
Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The character is said to be based on the real life Dr. Alfredo Balli Trevino. In 1988, Harris wrote the sequel,
The Silence of the Lambs.
Early cinema was inspired by many aspects of horror literature, and early horror cinema started a strong tradition of
horror films and subgenres based on horror fiction that continues to this day. Up until the graphic depictions of violence and gore on the screen commonly associated with the 1960s and 1970s
slasher films and
comic books such as those published by
EC Comics (famous for series such as
Tales From The Crypt) in the 1950s satisfied readers' quests for horror imagery that the
silver screen could not provide.
 This imagery made these comics controversial, and as a consequence they were frequently censored.
Many modern novels claim an early description of the living dead in a precursor to the modern
zombie tale, including
Dennis Wheatley's "Strange Conflict" (1941), H.P. Lovecraft stories such as "Cool Air," (1925) "In The Vault," (1926) and "The Outsider," (1926).
Richard Matheson's novel
I Am Legend (1954) would also influence an entire genre of apocalyptic zombie fiction emblematic of the films of
George A. Romero.
Contemporary horror fiction
One of the best-known contemporary horror writers is
Stephen King, known for writing
Misery and many more.
 Beginning in the 1970s, King's stories have managed to attract a large audience, for which he was prized by the U.S. National Book Foundation in 2003.
 Popular contemporary horror authors include
Best-selling book series of contemporary times exist in related genres to horror fiction, such as the
Kitty Norville books from
Carrie Vaughn, the
Gothic fiction of
Anne Rice, and
R.L. Stine. Elements of the horror genre continue to expand outside the genre. The
alternate history of more traditional historical horror in a novel such as
The Terror exists on bookstore shelves next to genre
mash ups such as
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the
historical fantasy and
horror comics such as
Hellboy. Horror serves as one of the central genres in more complex modern works such as
Mark Z. Danielewski's
House of Leaves, a finalist for the
National Book Award. There are also horror novels for teens, such as
The Monstrumologist by