Study Guide

Anne Rice

Anne Rice Biography

Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Anne Rice, the second of Howard and Katherine Allen O’Brien’s four daughters, was christened Howard Allen O’Brien but began to use the name Anne when she started school. She, like her sisters, showed an early interest in writing, her postal worker father’s avocation. One of her sisters, Alice O’Brien Borchardt, has published detective novels. Another sister, Tamara O’Brien Tinker, became a poet.{$S[A]O’Brien, Howard Allen[OBrien, Howard Allen];Rice, Anne}{$S[A]Roquelaure, A. N.;Rice, Anne}{$S[A]Rampling, Anne;Rice, Anne}

Anne Rice’s interest in occult topics was initially aroused by her mother, who was an inveterate storyteller and wove fantastic and supernatural occurrences into her stories. In one of her tales, she described a woman brushing her hair when it burst into flame. After her mother’s death from complications associated with alcoholism, the family moved to Richardson, Texas, near Dallas. Her mother’s death led Anne, then fourteen years old, to abandon her Roman Catholic faith. She worked on the high school newspaper and became a voracious reader of books, particularly of those proscribed by the church.

While still in high school she fell in love with Stan Rice, who was the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, and after marrying when Anne was twenty, they both entered San Francisco State University, from which she received a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1964 and a master’s degree in creative writing in 1971. During those years she also studied at the University of California at Berkeley. Stan Rice, meanwhile, who had begun publishing his poetry, was appointed to teach creative writing at San Francisco State University. A turning point in the couple’s life occurred in 1972 when their daughter, Michelle, died after a two-year struggle with leukemia. Anne Rice finally realized that the best escape from her...

(The entire section is 770 words.)

Anne Rice Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Anne Rice was born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien on October 4, 1941, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Howard O’Brien and Katherine Allen O’Brien. Howard O’Brien’s reasons for bestowing his own name on his daughter remain obscure, but bearing a masculine name clearly had a profound effect on her. When she entered first grade, the little girl christened herself Anne. The name stuck, as did a lifelong obsession with androgyny.

The exotic, decadent, intoxicating atmosphere of her hometown must also be counted among Anne Rice’s early influences—as must her mother’s alcoholism. As she approached puberty, Anne devoted much of her time to reading in a darkened bedroom to the increasingly incapacitated Katherine. It was there, perhaps, that she acquired an affinity for vampires. She would later recall how her mother first explained alcoholism as a “craving in the blood” and then asked her to say the rosary. Anne watched her mother alternate between wild exhilaration and collapse and finally waste away, her body drained by addiction and an inability to eat. When Katherine died in 1956, the nexus of blood, religion, and death must have taken root in her young daughter’s psyche.

Anne’s father remarried when she was sixteen, and, after Anne’s sophomore year in high school, he moved the family to Richardson, Texas, where Anne met Stan Rice. Stan was a year younger than Anne, and at first he did not seem to share her romantic feelings...

(The entire section is 590 words.)