James Herbert: 10 Surprising Facts About the Horror Author

James Herbert artwork

With 23 horror and fantasy novels to his name, James Herbert was one of England’s most prolific and successful writers. Here are 10 surprising facts about the author… 

1) Playground story teller 

Herbert’s flair for story telling started early on. At school in London where Herbert grew up, the children would gather around him on the playground to listen to him tell stories. 

2) Good friends with Stephen King 

Both masters of horror fiction, it’s not surprising that James Herbert was good friends with American bestselling author Stephen King. In an interview, James Herbert told about a time when he got drunk with Stephen King and they saw a ghost. 

3) Herbert was the art director of an advertising agency 

Before becoming a bestselling published author, Herbert had a different kind of creative profession. He worked for the Charles Barker Advertising agency as an art director. 

4) James Herbert wrote his first drafts by hand 

Whilst most authors would type up their manuscripts on a typewriter or word processor, Herbert would scribble down the first drafts of his books in jumbo pads. 

5) Paying damages for The Spear

In 1979, Herbert had to pay damages over his book The Spear when it was claimed that he’d lifted themes in the book from The Spear of Destiny – a novel by Trevor Ravenscroft. 

6) King presented Herbert with a prestigious horror award 

In 2010, Herbert’s long term buddy Stephen King presented him with a Grand Master Award at the World Horror Convention.

7) Prince Charles awarded James Herbert his OBE 

Also in 2010, Herbert was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, for his contribution towards British literature. At the ceremony, the medal was awarded by Prince Charles himself. 

8) The Rats’ first run sold out in 3 weeks 

Released in 1974, James Herbert’s first novel, The Rats, had an initial run of 100,000 copies. They flew off the bookshelves! So fast, in fact, that the entire run had sold out in 3 weeks.

9) The Rats was made into a 1985 video game

Herbert’s bestselling novel, The Rats, which is about giant mutant rats that take over London, was turned into a video game in 1985! Hidden and Stoughton published the text based adventure game dropped on the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum. 

10) The Unholy is based on a James Herbert book 

The Unholy – the 2021 horror movie from Sam Raimi starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan – is actually based on James Herbert’s 1983 novel Shrine. 

There you have it – 10 facts about James Herbert!