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James Herbert Dies: British Writer's Horror Enticed Teenage Boys

Image: James Herbert Dies: British Writer's Horror Enticed Teenage Boys

By Rick Carlton   |   Thursday, 21 Mar 2013 12:06 PM

British horror writer James Herbert, best known for "The Rats," died at his home in Sussex on Wednesday, the Daily Mail reported. He was 69.

Herbert had an active career, beginning in 1974, and just last week released his last and 23rd work, "Ash." His works sold 54 million copies in 34 countries.

"The Rats" depicted London overrun by mutant flesh-eating rodents and sold 100,000 copies within two weeks of being published in 1974, according to the BBC. Although it remains his hallmark, Herbert followed this initial foray in the horror genre by creating a host of other enduring stories, including "Fluke," which ultimately became a full-length movie adaptation in 1995, and "The Secret of Crickley Hall," which became a BBC TV adaptation in 2012.

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"Jim Herbert was one of the keystone authors in a genre that had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s," said his publisher, Jeremy Trevathan. "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."

Guardian columnist Ali Catterall told the BBC that "for certain boys of a certain generation he was probably the greatest writer that ever lived."

"Partially because of the sex and horror which was extremely enticing to teenage boys. But majorly because what he did was to make British horror relevant again," said Catterall.

Herbert was born in London’s East End. He said his childhood was "hand to mouth," but managed to occupy himself by telling stories to other children as they watched hosts of rats roaming through bombing sites left by London’s ‘Blitz.’

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After completing art college, and a stint with an advertising agency, he finished "The Rats" when he was 28.

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