Monday, 1 July 2013

The Legacy of Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson has died at the age of 87, but his literary influence will continue to live on. Ray Bradbury called Matheson one of the most important writers of the 20th century. In 2012 the Horror Writers Association bestowed a Bram Stoker Award on Matheson for the "vampire novel of the century", I am Legend. This novel had three screen adaptations, as well as inspiring George  A. Romero's 1968 classic,  Night of the Living Dead. Stephen King, who cites Matheson as his greatest influence, dedicated his novel Cell to Matheson and Romero. Harlan Ellison has acknowledged his huge debt to Richard Matheson, and the younger Spielberg was indebted to Matheson for writing the story and screenplay for Spielberg's 1971 film Duel. More recently, Joe Hill and Stephen King co-authored a story entitled “Throttle,” which was inspired by Matheson's story. Matheson adapted Edgar Allan Poe stories for film director Roger Corman and wrote 16 episodes of The Twilight Zone.  He also wrote the screenplay for the movie The Incredible Shrinking Man, which was based upon his novel, originally entitled The Shrinking Man. In addition to his well-known novels, he was credited as a writer on at least 80 film and television productions over his career, which spanned seven decades.

 Matheson saw the potential for horror in everyday life and once stated that there were "no crypt[s] or castles or H.P. Lovecraft-type environments [in his works]. They were just about normal people who had something bizarre happening to them in the neighborhood.”

For tributes to Richard Matheson, please see his obituary in The Guardian at and the books blog at

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