Anne Rice (born October 4, 1941) is a best-selling American author of horror/fantasy books. She was born Howard Allen O'Brien, the second daughter in a Catholic Irish-American family. Rice's works have had a major influence on the "Goth" movement, and she has also published a number of works with sado-masochistic themes. She was married to the late poet Stan Rice and is the mother of novelist Christopher Rice. Her daughter, Michele, was born on September 21, 1966 and died of leukemia on August 5, 1972. Anne's sister, Alice Borchardt, is also a noted genre author.
Rice was born and spent most of her life in New Orleans, Louisiana, the city that forms the background against which most of her stories take place. Her father moved the family to north Texas, taking up residence in Richardson, in 1958, when Anne was 16, and she met Stan Rice, whom she would later marry, at Richardson High School. She began college at Texas Women's University in Denton, but relocated with Stan to California, where the couple put down roots in San Francisco. She would not return to New Orleans until 1989.
About her unusual given name, Rice said: "My birth name is Howard Allen because apparently my mother thought it was a good idea to name me Howard. My father's name was Howard, she wanted to name me after Howard, and she thought it was a very interesting thing to do. She was a bit of a Bohemian, a bit of mad woman, a bit of a genius, and a great deal of a great teacher. And she had the idea that naming a woman Howard was going to give that woman an unusual advantage in the world. "
Anne became "Anne" on her first day of school, when a nun asked her what her name was. She blurted out "Anne" immediately, and her mother, who was with her, let it go without correcting her, knowing how self-conscious her daughter was of her real name.
Known for her avid interest in art and culture, Anne and her family occasionally took trips overseas to study the art later mentioned in her stories. More recently, following the death of her husband Stan Rice, she has relocated to the Coachella Valley, La Jolla, California to be nearer her son, Christopher. After spending most of her adult life as a self described atheist, Rice returned to the Roman Catholic Church in 1998, and she is currently working on a trilogy about the life of Jesus.
Rice has also published erotica under the pen names Anne Rampling and A.N. Roquelaure, the latter of which was used primarily for more adult-oriented material. Her fiction is often described as lush and descriptive, and her characters' sexuality is fluid, often displaying homoerotic feelings towards each other. She also deals with philosophical and historic themes, weaving them in to the dense pattern of her books, and giving them a highly intellectual, if not highly literary, content. To her admirers, Rice's books are among the best in modern popular fiction, considered by some to possess those elements that create a lasting presence in the literary canon. To her critics, her novels are baroque, "low-brow pulp" and redundant.
A critical analysis of Rice's work can be found in S. T. Joshi's book The Modern Weird Tale (2001).