Rice, Anne: The Witching Hour
(researched by Danielle Boykin)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York Copyright-November 1990 Author-Anne O'Brien Rice

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

The first edition was published in cloth.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

The book has 965 pages and is 24 cm.

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

There is no additional editor or formal introduction.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

There are illustrations, including the title page, by Patricia Hardin.

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

The physical appearance of the book without the dust jacket is not attractive. The cloth is black without any form of illustration which is very boring. The typography is readable, but there seems to have been a mistake with the printing of the book There are several pages throughout the book in which the typographies are different.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

The quality of the paper is good and is holding up very well. The pages have a smooth feel.

11 Description of binding(s)

The binding is black in color and is stitched. The title and last name of the author is on the binding.

12 Transcription of title page

The title page reads as: The Witching Hour A Novel By Anne Rice Also includes the publisher and date

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

Not avaliable

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

There is a page, after the dedication page, in which there are two lines of poetry by Stan Rice. "And the rain is brain-colored And the thunder sounds like something remembering something"

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

British First Edition, 1991. Published by Chatto & Windu Description of dust jacket: "An angel ornament on a virtually black Christmas tree and light blue scroll work"

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

There 300,000 books in the first printing

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

There were paperback editions that were from a different publisher (orginal publisher was Knopf). The publisher was Ballentine Books, Inc. The first paperback was printed in June 1991 and the second which was a Mass Market Paperback was printed in March 1993.

6 Last date in print?

1991 (Hardback) 1993 (Mass Market Paperback)

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

According to Bowker Annual's 36th Editon of 1991, 498,552 were sold and the book was released in November 1990. (Must continue search for current date)

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)


9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)


10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion


12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

Warner purchased the film rights, but there is no known production. There is an audio-taped version published by Random House Pb Mod Library (November 1990).

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

Spanish Edition-"La Hora De Las Brujas". There are two volumes. French First Edition-"Le Lien Malifique. It is a soft cover and was released by Robert Lafont.

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A


15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A

Mayfair Witch Chronicles Lasher-is the sequal to Witching Hour and picks up where t it left off. Also by Knopf (1993). The dust jacket is of woman dancing with a veil. Taltos- Is the next book in line (1994). New characters are int introduced. Dust jacket image is from "The Temptation of Christ from the Captitl at Cathedral of St.Lazarus in France.

Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Anne Rice was born as Howard Allen O'Brien on October 4, 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She changed her name to Anne in 1947. Anne's father, Howard, worked for the post office and her mother, Katherine, set out to raise Anne and her three sisters to be intelligent women. Anne lost her mother at the age of 14 to alcoholism. Her father would remarry and he moved the family to Texas. Her educational history (post-secondary) began with her attendance at Texas Woman's University, 1959-60. She received her B.A. in 1964 and her M.A. in 1971 from San Franciso State College and did graduate study at University of California-Berkeley, 1969-70. She currently lives at 1239 First St., New Orleans, LA 70130 with her husband Stan Rice who she married at the age of 20 (1961). She had one child named Michele who was born in 1962. Michele only lived to the age of five because she suffered from a rare form of leukemia. Anne was 35 years-old when she published her first book in 1976 which was Interview With the Vampire. Other publications include The Feast of All Saints, 1980; Cry to Heaven, 1982; The Vampire Lestat, 1985; The Queen of the Damned, 1988; The Mummy, 1989; Vampire Chronicles, 1989; The Witching Hour, 1990; The Tale of the Body Thief, 1992; Lasher, 1993; Taltos, 1994; Memnoch the Devil, 1995; and Servant of the Bones, 1996. Anne's agent is Jacklyn Nesbit Associates, 598 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

The contemporary reception history of Anne Rice's The Witching Hour was varied, but overall Rice struggled to have her work deemed as "serious" fiction. In an in-depth review and focus of Anne Rice in Newsweek it said that "Anne rice knows horror novels are declasse and that the $5 million she got for her last two-book deal can't buy the cachet of a $5,000 piece of "serious" fiction. But she insists her novels are serious fiction (Gates, Nov. 5, 1990)." The reviews took note that Rice had switched from using vampires as her characters to that of witches and they were intrigued with the imaginative story line of this novel. Rice's romance with the supernatural, display of intense sexuality and incorporation of taboos gave her book strong narrative energy, but many of the reviewers found her story to be long-winded and or bloated. Patrick McGrath of The New York Time Book Review said, " But despite its tireless narrative energy, despite its relentless inventiveness, the book is bloated..more is included than is needed..repetition is a problem (Nov. 4, 1990)." Another reviewer, Patricia Altner of the Library Journal agreed with McGrath in the fact that Rice's book was long-winded at times, but she said that it was "still a compelling novel. The author's powerful writing and strong imagery keep the reader enthralled. Expect demand (Oct. 15, 1990)." There is obvious evidence in the early reviews that Rice struggled to have her work taken seriously and was even deemed in Newsweek as "America's classiest Gothic novelist". There was an audience that did take Rice's work seriously as The Witching Hour would become a best seller. The reviews that Rice received between 1991-1994 were for Lasher and Taltos which continued the saga of the Mayfair Witches. The Witching Hour was referred to as a good source of understanding the orgin of the Mayfair Witches Sources: 1) Newsweek-"Queen of the Spellbinder"-David Gates November 5, 1990 2) New York Times Book Review-"Ghastly and Unnatural Ambitions-Patrick McGrath. November 4, 1990 3) Library Journal-Patricia Altner. October 15, 1990 4) New Statesman & Society-Jo-Ann Goodwin. November 26, 1993 5) New York Times Book Review-"It's Witchcraft" Gahan Wilson. December 4, 1994

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

The Subsequent reception of Anne Rice's The Witching Hour is small. Rice has written so many books after this one that it is vaguely mentioned as included in her Mayfair Witches Trilogy. The subsequent reviews show that Rice is extremely popular and has a loyal following. Reviewers take her more seriously than they did when The Witching Hour was released.
Sources: 1) New York Times Book Review-"In Short" Wendy Smith. July 23, 1995 2) New York Times Book Review-"All This and Heaven Too"-Daniel Mendelsohn. August 11, 1996 3) Booklist-Donna Seaman May 15, 1996

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

"She is a vision in black from head to toe from the severe, blunt-cut hair to the laced boots, with the blue-and gold glint of an Egyptian scarab necklace providing the only trace of color. Anne Rice appears to h
ave a firm grip on her image. During this interview in Toronto the photographer offered to brighten the picture with a colored scarf. ?No,' she said, laughing. ?This is the way I am (Johnson, 68)." This is one of the many images of Anne Rice, who is often characterized as the "Queen of the Night". She lives in the Garden District lair of New Orleans which is the seductive setting for the majority of her novels and sitting on her porch is an artifi
cial German shepherd. When Rice has a book signing she makes quite a unique entrance, she will arrive in a horse-drawn coffin. On her more understated she may wear a beaded head dress (Lopez, 4). Rice has even been known to give her fans the opportunity
to ?live it up' for a night and become anyone or anything that they want when she throws a ball. For example she had a Memnoch Ball in 1995. Anne Rice is quite an attention getter with her uninhibited nature, but nothing compares to the attention that she has captured with the imaginative characters and worlds that she has created in her novels throughout the years.
Anne Rice has come a long way in the literary world as a writer of gothic fiction. She once struggled to be recognized as a "serious writer" and was often subject to harsh criticism despite her growing readership. Rice still has the support of her loyal
fans, which continues to grow with each novel, and now she has become a main stay in the world of literature. One reviewer with the New York Book Review said, " There are many authors who write for commercial genres, but only a very few who succeed in creating successful genres based on themselves alone, and fewer yet who manage to follow that up by then cre
ating a series of thriving subgenres, each one of them highly profitable (Wilson, 82)." There are many reasons for why Rice has become so successful and one can analyze that by paying attention to one of her bestsellers, The Witching Hour. The Witching Hour is the story of prominent and wealthy Mayfair family, a clan of witches,
who for five centuries, has cavorted with a supernatural entity known as Lasher that has brought them both great bounty as well as abject misery (Altner, 106). The Mayfair family has its roots in Scotland and the family traveled to Haiti and then to the A
merican South in New Orleans. The Witching Hour as Anne's most ambitious novel to date..(Ramsland, 21) and the novel was received well by the audience, but the reviews were mixed. The Witching Hour is not just a work of fiction that incorporates fantasy, sexuality, and horror, but there is also an incorporation of social commentary. Rice is popular because she injects some sense of reality into her work, which is inspired b
y her life, and the fans can relate to this. This use of realism is also what makes her a powerful, yet "dark", force in popular culture and the literary world. Anne Rice biographer, Katherine Ramsland, characterized The Witching Hour as Anne's most ambitious novel to date...(Ramsland, 21) and the novel was received well by the audience, but the reviews were mixed. One reviewer said that the novel was a bit
long winded at times, but still compelling which was attributed to Rice's powerful writing and strong imagery (Altner, 106). "In 1990, Anne Rice told Susan Ferraro that she was annoyed by a reviewer's dismissing her as a strictly a popular writer. Two years later, in a television interview she again expressed her eagerness to earn an academic audience, but she no longer fe
lt the same frustration with her lack of serious critical attention, she had come to appreciate the enthusiastic response from a wide popular audience and enjoy a special relationship with her readers (Ramsland, 124)." This was the period in which Rice's level of seriousness and respectability was questioned and this can be disheartening to any writer, but Rice soon realized that her selling power and fan base would be the "proof in the pudding" in later years to c
ome. Rice now has the attention of a large readership and finally that of an academic audience (Ramsland, 124). No other writer of popular fiction has drawn as much academic attention at the National Popular Culture Association conference meetings as she
has. There is typically at least one panel of essays offered annually on Rice's work and they are well attended (Hoppenstand, 1) Rice is somewhat in a league of her own, but she has been compared to other authors of gothic fiction and popular horror fiction. The comparisons range from Horace Walpole's seminal gothic tale The Castle of Otranto (1764) to Anne Radcliff's massive
gothic romances such as The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) to Bram Stoker's masterpiece, Dracula. She has also been compared to her contemporary peers, Clive Barker, Robert. McCammon, and Stephen King (Hoppenstand, 1). One would wonder what is it about The Witching Hour that compels readers to be so intrigued and therefore give Rice a high rate of success with her other novels. Although Rice is a fictional writer, her work is drawn from reality and her life is the
inspiration for much of what she writes. "As a child Rice was encouraged by her mother to develop a complex fantasy life for her entertainment. She often walked past the large, deteriorating mansions of New Orleans, peering inside to catch sight of a female ghost with flaming hair or the De
vil himself... She would write about these childhood fantasies in her first published short story (Ramsland, 6)." For Rice The Witching Hour is eerily close to home. She shares the same house that her characters do on First Street in the elegant Garden District, but her home is not haunted and instead is filled with sun. Like Rice, the hero of the novel, Michael
Curry, is an Irish New Orleanian who comes home after years in San Francisco (Gates, 76). These are just a few of the parallels to Rice's life. One of the most important themes that runs through Rice's work and particularly The Witching Hour is that of family connection. Rice said that this is a theme that will always be a part of her work because as a child she took a strong interest in the
members of her extended family. She has always cared about family and as she learned more about her own family, the "fictional" Mayfair family also swelled in size and history (Ramsland, 21). Rice also said that, "The Mayfair trilogy works as a whole. It is about the Mayfair family struggling through time to survive. The Mayfairs represent an ideal for me of a clan that stays together. These books contain very heartfelt ideas of mine abou
t how we struggle for survival, how we fear other races, and how the more aggressive tribes wipe out the gentler ones (Hoppenstand, 38)." Rice's work goes deeper than just fantasy, horror and sexuality. There is the gritty truth of realism that is personal to her and it also reaches to the heart of her fans. Evelin Marie, a mother, wife, and fan of Rice from Jackson, Mississippi said, "...If you've never read a Rice book, don't think of it as some kind of sci-fi novel. There's a lot more in her writing then just fairy tales. There's a lot of real human e
xperience that can bring people to an understanding of life and spirituality of human experience (Marcus, 33)." Mark, a 31 year-old Corporate Lawyer from Vancouver, Canada said, "When you are actively looking for someone to share your life [with], you wonder if you are going to be alone, or find someone in this world you can be in love with. In The Witching Hou
r you have Rowan and Michael who were these lonely lost souls, having one night stands, and never in relationships of duration, and then they meet and find that they are soulmates (Marcus, 35)." Anne Rice has taken what life has offered her and incorporated it into captivating works of literature. Her work is more than just horror, fantasy, and sexuality, it is also full of realism and social commentary. One example of this is The Witching
Hour and this successful novel reaches down deep into the soul. It was and still is a work that is so compelling that its growth was inevitable. Rice has struggled from the beginning to make those in the world of academia realize that she is indeed a "ser
ious" writer. That approval and respect took a long time to come, but this approval is not what is most important to Rice. It is not only the quality and imagination within her work, but the appreciation of it by those fans who have been loyal since the
beginning and take away the deep meanings of life that are embedded in The Witching Hour and the other works.

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