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Peter Straub

Peter Straub

American writer
The basics
Occupations Writer Novelist Author Poet Science fiction writer
Countries United States of America
Gender male
Birth July 3, 2000 (Milwaukee)
Residence Crouch End
Education University of Wisconsin–Madison, Columbia University, Milwaukee Country Day School
Authority IMDB id ISNI id Library of congress id NNDB id Openlibrary id VIAF id
The details

Peter Francis Straub (born March 2, 1943) is an American novelist and poet. His horror fiction has received numerous literary honors such as the Bram Stoker Award, World Fantasy Award, and International Horror Guild Award.

Early life

Straub was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Elvena (Nilsestuen) and Gordon Anthony Straub. At the age of seven, Straub was struck by a car, sustaining serious injuries. He was hospitalized for several months, and temporarily used a wheelchair after being released until he had re-learned how to walk. Straub has said that the accident made him prematurely aware of his own mortality.

Straub read voraciously from an early age, but his literary interests did not please his parents; his father hoped that he would grow up to be a professional athlete, while his mother wanted him to be a Lutheran minister. He attended Milwaukee Country Day School on a scholarship, and, during his time there, began writing.

Straub earned an honors B.A. in English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1965, and an MA at Columbia University a year later. He briefly taught English at Milwaukee Country Day, then moved to Dublin, Ireland, in 1969 to work on a Ph.D., and to start writing professionally.


After mixed success with two attempts at literary mainstream novels in the mid-1970s (Marriages and Under Venus), Straub dabbled in the supernatural for the first time with Julia (1975). He then wrote If You Could See Me Now (1977), and came to widespread public attention with his fifth novel, Ghost Story (1979), which was a critical success and was later loosely adapted into a 1981 film starring Fred Astaire. Several horror novels followed, with growing success, including The Talisman and Black House, two fantasy-horror collaborations with Straub's long-time friend and fellow author Stephen King.

Straub at the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival for a panel on how far a writer can go between reality and fantasy.

After a fallow period, Straub re-emerged in 1988 with Koko, a nonsupernatural (though horrific) Vietnam novel. Koko was followed in the early '90s by the related novels Mystery and The Throat, which together with Koko make up the "Blue Rose Trilogy". These complex and intertwined novels extended Straub's explorations into metafiction and unreliable narrators.

The ambitious mainstream thriller The Hellfire Club was published in 1996; the novel applied the lessons learned in the Blue Rose period to a more overtly gothic plot. Mr. X followed in 1999 with a doppelgänger theme. In 2001, Straub and King reteamed for Black House, a loose sequel to The Talisman tying that book in with King's Dark Tower Series. 2003 saw the publication of a new Straub novel Lost Boy, Lost Girl followed by the related In the Night Room (2004). Both of these novels won Stoker awards.

Straub also edited the Library of America volume H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (2005). His novel Mr. X had paid tribute to Lovecraft, as the eponymous Mr. X wrote in a similar style.

Straub has also published several books of poetry. My Life in Pictures appeared in 1971 as part of a series of six poetry pamphlets Straub published with his friend Thomas Tessier under the Seafront Press imprint while living in Dublin. In 1972 the more substantial chapbook Ishmael was published by Turret Books in London. Straub's third book of poetry, Open Air, appeared later that same year from Irish University Press. The collection Leeson Park and Belsize Square: Poems 1970 – 1975 was published by Underwood-Miller in October 1983. This collection reprints much of Ishmael along with previously uncollected poems, but none of the poems from Open Air.

A critical essay on Straub's horror work can be found in S. T. Joshi's book The Modern Weird Tale (2001). At the Foot of the Story Tree by Bill Sheehan discusses Straub's work before 2000.

Straub also sits on the contributing editorial board of the literary journal Conjunctions, and he guest-edited Conjunctions: 39, an issue on New Wave Fabulism.

Straub (right) with Rob Hood in 2007

In 2007, Straub's personal papers were acquired by the Fales Library at New York University.

February 2010 saw the release of his latest thriller, A Dark Matter.


  • Full Circle (1977), based on Julia (1975)
  • Ghost Story (1981), based on Ghost Story (1979)
  • The Talisman (2008 short), based on The Talisman
  • The Talisman (TBA), an upcoming miniseries based on The Talisman

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