British horror author James Herbert, best known for classic The Rats, has died aged 69.
James Herbert’s publisher, Pan Macmillan, confirmed that the best-selling author died at his home in Sussex, UK, this morning. No cause of death was given.
Jeremy Trevathan, the author’s editor for 10 years, described him as “one of the keystone authors in a genre that had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s”.
James Herbert is survived by his wife, Eileen, whom he married in 1967, and their three daughters Kerry, Emma and Casey.
His first novel, The Rats, depicted London overrun by mutant flesh-eating rodents and sold 100,000 copies within two weeks of being published in 1974.
Since then, James Herbert has published 23 novels in more than 30 languages, selling 54 million copies worldwide. His latest book, Ash, was published last week.
James Herbert was appointed an OBE by the Queen in 2010 – the same year he was made Grand Master of Horror by the World of Horror Convention.
Jeremy Trevathan described James Herbert as “one of the giants of popular fiction in the 20th Century”.
“It’s a true testament to his writing and his enduring creativity that his books continued to be huge bestsellers right up until his death.
“He has the rare distinction that his novels were considered classics of the genre within his lifetime,” he added.
Born in London’s East End on 8 April 1943, James Herbert won a scholarship to St Aloysius Grammar School in Highgate at the age of 10.
After a college course in graphic design, he went on to work at an advertising agency.
James Herbert started his first novel, The Rats, at the age of 28 and completed it within 10 months. He submitted the manuscript to six publishers, three of whom replied.
Of those, two rejected the novel and one accepted it.
The Rats was one of four James Herbert novels made into films, along with The Survivor, Fluke and Haunted.
James Herbert’s novel The Secret Of Crickley Hall was adapted for television and broadcast on BBC One in December, while The Magic Cottage was dramatized for BBC Radio 4.