Rice, Anne

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Rice, Anne

Rice, Anne, 1941-2021, American novelist, b. New Orleans, La., as Howard Katherine O'Brien, San Francisco State Univ. (B.A., 1964; M.A., 1972). Rice was raised in New Orleans until her mother died when she 15; her father remarried and the family moved to Texas, where she briefly attended Texas Woman's Univ. She moved to San Francisco, and completed her college education, earning a degree in political science. In 1972, her daughter died of leukemia, inspiring her to write what became her first novel, Interview with a Vampire (1976), which became a major best-seller and spawned over a dozen more novels under the overall title of the Vampire Chronicles, a film adaptation, and a Broadway musical scored by Elton John. She has had a troubled relationship with the Christian church, alternating disavowing organized religion while embracing spirituality, a subject of many of her books. She wrote a variety of other novels, some under the pseudonyms of Anne Rampling and A.N. Roquelaure. Her novels are said to have sold over 150 million copies, making her among the best-selling of all American authors.


See her memoir, Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Journey (2008).

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Anne Rice, author of the wildly popular “Vampire Chronicles” series.

Rice, Anne (1941–)

(pop culture)

Among the people who have contributed to the significant increase of interest in the vampire in the last generation, few rank with writer Anne Rice. Her major vampire character, Lestat de Lioncourt, who was introduced in her 1976 book, Interview with the Vampire, has taken his place beside Bram Stoker‘s Dracula and Dark Shadows’ Barnabas Collins as one of the three major literary figures molding the image of the contemporary vampire.

Rice was born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien in the Irish community in New Orleans, Louisiana, and changed her name to Anne shortly after starting school. During her late teens she grew increasingly skeptical of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church in which she had been raised. She not only rejected the unique place of the Roman Church among other religious bodies, but also pronounced her disbelief in its major affirmations of the divine work of Jesus Christ and the existence of God. She replaced her childhood religious teachings with a rational ethical system, an integral element in her reworking of the vampire tradition. Both Rice and her poet husband Stan Rice began writing professionally during the early 1960s, but he was the first to receive recognition. In 1970 he won the Joseph Henry Jackson Award for poetry. Rice sold her first story, “October 4, 1948,” in 1965, but it was not until 1973 that she felt ready to quit her job in order to write full time.

The Vampire Chronicles: As early as 1969 Rice had written a short story that she called “Interview with the Vampire.” In 1973 she turned it into a novel and attempted to sell it. Following several rejections, Alfred A. Knopf bought it, and it was published in 1976. The book became an unexpected success and has remained in print both in hardback and paperback. Her second novel, The Feast of All Saints, was published by Simon & Schuster three years later, and a third, Cry to Heaven, appeared in 1982.

Meanwhile another side of Rice emerged in a series of novels published under a pseudonym, A. N. Roquelaure. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (1983), Beauty’s Punishment (1984), and Beauty’s Release: The Continued Erotic Adventures of Sleeping Beauty (1985) were adult erotic fantasy novels. The sado-masochistic theme in the Roquelaure novels carried over into the more conventional novels published under a second pseudonym, Anne Rambling. In the midst of the release of these novels, her important vampire short story appeared in Redbook in 1984, “The Master of Rambling Gate.” Rice returned to the vampire theme in 1985 with The Vampire Lestat, the most heralded of what was to become the “Vampire Chronicles” series. This volume further developed the character of Lestat introduced in her earlier work.

He emerged as a strong secular individualist who took to the vampire’s life quite naturally. Born into the lesser aristocracy, he defied the vampire establishment in Paris and decided to make his own way in the world. A man of action who rarely rested in indecision, he was also deeply affected by poetry and music and freely showed his emotions. Rice described him as both an androgynous ideal and an expression of the man she would be if she were male. Like Rice, Lestat rejected his Catholic past and had no aversion to the religious weapons traditionally used against his kind. Seeking moral justification for his need to feed on fresh blood, he began to develop a vampire ethic, selecting those who had done some great wrong as his victims.

The success of The Vampire Lestat led to demands for more, and Rice responded with The Queen of the Damned (1988). Like the previous volumes, it became a bestseller and soon found its way into a paperback edition. Previously, Interview with the Vampire had also appeared in an audio cassette version (1986), and the publishers moved quickly to license audio versions of The Queen of the Damned (1988) and The Vampire Lestat (1989).

Rice was now a recognized author and her writing was regularly the subject of serious literary critics. She continued to produce at a steady rate and successively completed The Mummy (1989), The Witching Hour (1990), and Lasher (1993). In the meantime, further adventures of Lestat appeared in the fourth volume of the Vampire Chronicles, The Tale of the Body Thief (1992), released on audio cassette simultaneously with its hardback edition. In 1991 Katherine Ramsland finished her biography of Rice, entitled Prism of the Night, and moved on to compile a comprehensive reference volume, The Vampire Companion: The Official Guide to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (1993).

No sooner did Ramsland’s volume appear that a fifth volume of the “Vampire Chronicles,” Memnoch the Devil took Lestat into the supernatural realms of heaven and hell (after which Ramsland issued a revised edition). Memnoch was not as well received as the previous volumes, as it story tended to subordinate plot to philosophical musings on theological issues. After the publication of Memnoch, Rice announced that Lestat had left her and, to the disappointment of his fans, that there would be no more Lestat novels. However, she soon returned to the vampire theme with Pandora (immediately available on cassette and CD), the first of several volumes following the other characters in the “Vampire Chronicles.”

Lestat’s Vampire Culture: Rice’s novels have permeated the culture like no other recent vampire writings. Lestat was honored by a gothic rock band that took his name as their own and the androgynous ideal has been adopted by the gothic subculture. In 1988 a group of women in New Orleans founded an Anne Rice Fan Club. Rice approved the effort but suggested that a reference to Lestat be added to the club’s name. It emerged as the Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat Fan Club. Two years later, Innovation Corporation picked up the comic book rights to The Vampire Lestat, which it issued as a 12-part series. A similar release of Interview with the Vampire and The Queen of the Damned followed in 1991 (though Innovation unfortunately folded before the final issue of Queen of the Damned could be released). Her short story “The Master of Rambling Gate” was also issued in 1991. Innovation brought together one of the finest teams in comic book art to produce the three. Innovation also released three issues of The Vampire Companion, a fanzine in comic book format, which included stories about Rice’s vampire books, Innovation’s artists, and the process of producing the comic adaptations.

In 1976 Paramount bought the rights to Interview with the Vampire. The rights had a ten-year option, which expired in 1986. The rights reverted to Rice, and she, in turn, sold them to Lorimar along with the rights to The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned. Lorimar sold its rights to Interview with the Vampire to Warner Bros., which then passed them on to Geffen Pictures. In 1993 Geffen announced that it would begin the filming under Neil Jordan’s direction. The studio signed Tom Cruise to play Lestat and Brad Pitt to play Louis, the vampire who is interviewed in the story. Rice, who had earlier envisioned Rutger Hauer as the perfect Lestat, reacted emotionally to the choice of Cruise, whom she saw as devoid of the androgyny so definitive of her favorite vampire character. However, when she finally previewed the film in 1994, she retracted all she had said and praised Cruise for his success in bringing Lestat to the screen. Interview went on to be one of the largest-grossing films of the decade.

There is every reason to believe that, in spite of Rice’s ending the Lestat stories, that he and his fellow vampires will remain a popular reference point for the vampire community for many years to come. Interview with a Vampire went on to become one of the best-selling vampire books of all time (second only to Dracula) and was translated into a number of foreign languages. A second period of intense attention on her vampire universe began to manifest in 1998, when two new novels, The Vampire Armand, and Pandora appeared. They were quickly followed by Victorio the Vampire (1999), Merrick (2000), Blood and Gold (2001), Blackwood Farm (2002), and Blood Canticle (2003). The last two brought both the Vampire Chronicles and the series of books on the May-fair Witches to a culmination.

Even as she was finishing these last novels, Rice was undergoing a period of intense religious ferment which included a renewed faith in Christ and active membership in the Roman Catholic Church (beginning in 1998). In 2000, she quietly saw to the disband ing of the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club and the discontinuance of the annual Halloween parties. In 2004, she announced her return to her Catholic faith to her fans and the general public, followed the next year with a new novel, Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt, the first of a trilogy on the Life of Christ. Most recently, she has talked about her religious pilgrimage in the autobiographical Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession (2008).

Meanwhile, Rice also made a very public move away from New Orleans, where she had been a very active participant in the city’s political and economic life, in 2004. She sold the last of her property holding prior to the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. She quickly emerged as an advocate of relief to those hurt by the flooding and assistance for rebuilding. As part of her effort, she gave her blessing to some of the leaders in the former fan club to reopen it and again begin holding the annual Halloween event.


“Anne Rice” In Contemporary Literary Criticism. Edited by Daniel G. Marowski and Roger Matuz. Vol. 41. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company, 1987.
Frankel, Martha. “Interview with the Author of Interview with the Vampire.” Movieline 5,5 (January/February 1994): 58–62, 96–97.
Ramsland, Katherine. Prism in the Night: A Biography of Anne Rice. New York: Dutton, 1991. 385 pp.
———. The Vampire Companion: The Official Guide to Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993. 507 pp.
Rice, Anne. “The Master of Rambling Gate.” Redbook (February 1984): 50–58. Rept. Bryon Preiss, ed. The Ultimate Dracula. New York: Dell, 1991, 15–46. Rept. Richard Dalby, ed. Vampire Stories. Secaucus, NJ: Castle Books, 1993. pp. 189–203.
———. The Vampire Lestat. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985. 481 pp. Rept. New York: Ballantine Books, 1986. 550 pp.
———, Interview with the Vampire. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1986. 448 pp. Rept. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987. 346 pp.
———. The Queen of the Damned. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988. 448 pp. Rept. New York: Ballantine Books, 1989.
———. Tale of the Body Thief. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. 430 pp. Rept. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993.
———. Memnoch the Devil. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995. 354 pp.
———. Pandora. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996. 353 pp.
———. The Vampire Armand. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. 388 pp.
———. Vittorio the Vampire. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. 292 pp.
———. Merrick. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. 307 pp.
———. Blood and Gold. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001. 471 pp.
———. Blackwood Farm. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. 528 pp.
———. Blood Canticle. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. 360 pp.
The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

Rice, Anne (b. Howard Allen O'Brien) (Anne Rampling, A. N. Roquelaure, pen names)

(1941–  ) writer; born in New Orleans. Named after her father, she legally changed her name (c. 1947). She studied at Texas Women's University (1959–60), San Francisco State College (B.A. 1964; M.A. 1971), and at the University of California: Berkeley (1969–70). After a variety of jobs, such as waitress, cook, and insurance claims examiner, she began her career as a writer of erotica and vampire novels. Living in New Orleans, she gained a vast cult readership for both her supernatural novels, such as the Vampire Chronicles (1989), a trilogy, and for her sadomasochistic erotica, as in Beauty's Punishment (1984). She also wrote mainstream fiction, using the pen name of Anne Rampling.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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