Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan

BORN 28 Aug 1814, Dublin: 45 Lower Dominick Street - DIED 7 Feb 1873, Dublin: 18 Merrion Square South
GRAVE LOCATION Dublin: Mount Jerome Cemetery, 158 Harold's Cross Road (C122 - 399 (edge of Nuns's Walk: Limestone slab on granite vault))

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu was born in Dublin into a literary family. In 1826 the family moved to Abington where his father had obtained a rectorship. He educated himself using his father's library and he wrote poetry from an early age.

Although his father was frequently in financial difficulties, Sheridan Le Fanu studied law at Trinity College in Dubin. He studied at home and only went to the university to take examinations. In 1839 he was called to the bar, but he never started his work and switched to journalism.

In 1838 he had started contributing stories to the Dublin University Magazine, among them "The Ghost and the Bone-Setter". He wrote ghost stories and tales of the supernatural that were widely regarded as the best of their kind. His first novels were historical novels and later he also wrote sensation novels in the style of Wilkie Collins.

In December 1843 he married Susanna Bennett, the daughter of a barrister. They moved to Warrington Place in Dublin and four children were born between 1845 and 1854. In 1856 they moved to the house of Susanna's parents at Marrion Square (now number 70). His wife started to suffer from mental problems and after an attack of hysteria in April 1858 she suddenly died, aged thirty-four. She was buried at the Mount Jerome Cemetery in the Bennett family vault.

He was devastated and he retired from public life, living and writing as a recluse in the years to follow. He often wrote at night by candlelight. Le Fanu did not write any fiction after his wife died until the death of his mother in 1861. In that year he became the owner as well as the editor of the Dublin University Magazine and he started publishing his work first in Ireland and then in revised form in England. In Dublin he was called 'The Invisible Prince' because only at night he could be seen walking from his office to his home.

In 1863 he published "The House by the Churchyard". His output increased and novels became more successful. He was contracted in London by Richard Bentley. In 1864 he published "Uncle Silas", his best-known work. "Carmilla", the first vampire novella in English literature, was published in 1872 and was probably an inspiration for Bram Stoker to write "Dracula".

In 1869 he sold the "Dublin University Magazine". He died in 1873 in his house in Dublin. In the early 20th century, his work was almost forgotten, but the author and scholar M.R. James published a collection of his work in 1923 and his work regained popularity.

Related persons
• was published by Bentley, Richard


The grave of Joseph Sheridan le Fanu at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin.
Picture by Androom (18 Aug 2016)


The grave of Joseph Sheridan le Fanu at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin.
Picture by Androom (18 Aug 2016)


Plaque for Joseph Sheridan le Fanu in Dublin.
Picture by Androom (20 Aug 2016)


• Daiches, David (ed.), The Penguin Companion to Literature 1, Penguin Books, 1971
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Sheridan Le Fanu - Wikipedia

Le Seur, Rosa

Published: 11 Sep 2016
Last update: 05 May 2024