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Best-selling horror writer Peter Straub has died

Author Peter Straub at St. Paul's School in London, when he was collaborating with the Aurora Orchestra for their touring show "Thriller" in 2011.
Yui Mok
PA Images via Getty Images
Author Peter Straub at St. Paul's School in London, when he was collaborating with the Aurora Orchestra for their touring show "Thriller" in 2011.

Updated September 7, 2022 at 9:17 AM ET

Peter Straub, author of horror, mystery and supernatural novels and short stories has died at age 79. His daughter, novelist Emma Straub, announced his death on Instagram:

"Peter Francis Straub, the smartest and most fun person in every room he was ever in, 3/2/43 - 9/4/22. How lucky we were. There aren't enough words in the world."

In a career spanning more than 40 years, Straub's books include Ghost Story, The Hellfire Club, Black House and, in collaboration with Stephen King, The Talisman. Straub won numerous honors including multiple World Fantasy and Bram Stoker Awards.

"It's a sad day because my good friend and amazingly talented colleague and collaborator, Peter Straub, has passed away," wrote Stephen King on Twitter, "Working with him was one of the great joys of my creative life."

Straub was born in Milwaukee. His father was a salesman and his mother was a nurse. The bio on his website reveals a hint of Straub's wry humor.

"When kindergarten turned out to be a stupefyingly banal disappointment devoted to cutting animal shapes out of heavy colored paper, he took matters into his own hands and taught himself to read by memorizing his comic books and reciting them over and over to other neighborhood children on the front steps until he could recognize the words."

"Peter Straub is a modern-day Henry James, but with sharper teeth and a long black tongue," wrote Benjamin Percy in his review of Ghost Story for NPR, "He writes literary horror, in which the sentences are elegantly crafted, the characters wholly believable and the circumstances menacing."

In 2009, Straub told NPR, scary stories can do more than just give people the shivers. "In America, we don't like darkness, really," he said, "but there is an immense quantity to be learned there, and we all experience it in our lives."

Emma Straub this year published This Time Tomorrow, a novel in which a woman struggles with the decline of her father's health.She said it was inspired in part by Peter Straub's joking suggestion that she write about a woman visiting her father in the hospital and he asked, "What page do I die on?"

She tweeted about what a great father he was, as well as a mentor to other writers.

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Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.