ANNE RICE (Biography as of March 25th, 1999).
Howard Allen Frances O'Brien was born on October 4th, 1941 in New Orleans to Katherine Allen and Howard O'Brien. The attitudes and backgrounds of her parents had an enormous impact on the young girl's life as she slowly developed into one of the most
famous bestselling authors of the last two decades.
Her father, Howard, was born into a large Irish Catholic family; he was the fifth of nine children. He studied to become a priest at the Redemptorist Seminary in Missouri, but voluntarily quit school when his family needed him to earn money and aid in su
pporting his siblings. At one time he had looked towards a career in journalism, but never managed to go forward with it. He served in the merchant marines, and after being discharged he went to work for the post office. It was while working at a tempor
ary position for the postal service that he met Katherine Allen.
Katherine was the youngest of eight children, of which only three (Katherine, her sister Alice, and her brother John) survived to reach adolesence. Katherine's family life was rocky, her father was an alcoholic and rarely spent any time with his childern
. Eventually he was thrown out of the house due to his excessive drinking habits, and shortly after he died of tuberculosis and alcoholism in a charity hospital . He was forty-eight years old at the time of his death. "Alcohol was a deep and deadly evil
. The fear and guilt, and the atmosphere of pain that it created in the famly, gave Katherine an intense desire to follow in the ways of the church and to devote herself to being good. Purity and perfection were her absolute goals." ("Prism of the Night
", p. 6).
She met her future husband through a mutual friend, and their romance blossomed over a period of five months. Howard himself once remarked that he had never loved anyone more than Katherine, but at times she somewhat mystified him. "One night, out on th
e steps in the sweltering air, Katherine confessed that she expected to die when she reached her prime. Howard believed she possessed some degree of vision and it chilled him. He asked her never to mention it again." ("Prism of the Night", p. 8). While
the young couple was dating, Howard struggled to find a permanent position at the post office so that he might provide a secure environment for Katherine. He eventually obtained a full-time position, and he asked Katherine to marry him. The wedding date
was set for the early evening of November 25th, 1938, Thanksgiving Day. Katherine was thirty years old at the time, Howard was twenty. After a brief honeymoon the couple moved in with Katherine's mother.
One year after their union the eldest of the O'Brien children, Alice Allen O'Brien, was born. Two years later, Howard Allen O'Brien was born. On her first day of school, Howard Allen decided to go by the nickname "Anne" because she feared ridicule fro
m the other students and wanted to fit in. Nicknames were not uncommon in the O'Brien household, in fact every family member had one. Katherine was called "Kay", Howard was known as "Mike" around the post office, Alice was tagged "Suzie", Tamara chose
"Tiger T", and Karen called herself "Mitey Joe."
Anne and Alice were very close; they often played fantasy games together and acted out dreams that they had had the night before. Many of these childhood dreams Anne recounts in her later novels. Anne's mother was an expert storyteller, and Anne displa
yed her mother's creative ability early on in life. Anne's mother widely encouraged the girls' freedom and creativity. She treated them as equals at an early age, instructing them to call herself and Howard by their first names. Anne and Alice were
not sheltered from the adult world, they were always included in adult conversations and were encouraged to ask questions about adult topics. Anne's mother told them stories frequently and also read them poetry.
Anne's family was not poor, but money was always a concern. Katherine had always wanted a to live a comfortable, well-off life, but Howard was unable to provide that sort of status for her and the two girls. Inwardly depressed, Katherine began to drink
In 1946, Tamara O'Brien was born; this was also the year that Anne formally changed her nickname into her real name. One year later the last of the O'Brien children, Karen, entered into the world. After Karen's birth, Katherine O'Brien began a rapid
deterioration due to alcohol. She would drink so much that she would often just pass out on her bed and lie there for days. Even through all of this, though, her children never once saw her lift a bottle to her lips. Katherine would also swallow sever
al Tylenol at one time, and wash them down with liqour or beer. She joined Alcholics Anonymous briefly, after consistent pleading from Howard, but she eventually dropped out and began drinking again. Howard tried desparately to help his wife, but he was
working nearly all day and was not around much to supervise her detrimental habits.
Finally, one night while Howard was in the hospital watching over Tamara, who was slowly recovering from a ruptured spleen, Katherine admitted to a friend that she thought she was dying. Howard left the hospital and rushed to her side, but just as she h
ad predicted years ago before they were married, she died in her prime. Katherine Allen O'Brien died at age forty-eight, the same age at which her alcoholic father had died when she was young. The year was 1956; Anne was two months away from turning fi
After her mother's death, Anne was sent to St. Joseph Academy. Less than a year later Howard remarried to a divorced Baptist, Dorothy Van Bever, in November. Anne was happy that her father was beginning to move on with his life. In 1957 Howard was off
ered a job in the Dallas regional post office, so he packed up his family and moved to Richardson, Texas. At first Anne was devastated at being forced to move. "I didn't want to be in Texas. It was very much against my will. I felt like I had been ripp
ed out of New Orleans, and I felt homeless. I felt like I wasn't anything; I was very angry and bitter." ("Prism of the Night, p.55-6). Anne attended Richardson High School in Dallas. At sixteen, she had dyed her raven hair beached blond, and the colo
r had since grown out to leave the top pitch black and the bottom half a coppery blond. Although she never fit into the popular crowd at Richardson, she did develop lasting friendships with several people who shared her intellectual interests.
She met her future husband, Stan, in a journalism class, and was immediately attracted to his tall stature and handsome blond physique. He was the editor of her highschool newspaper, "The Talon", to which Anne contributed several short feature articles.
She also began writing short stories. They began dating casually, and even took a week long trip to New Orleans together. Stan Rice was the first person Anne ever kissed, even though she had entertained many suitors during her high school years. Anne g
raduated from Richardson in 1959, a year before Stan graduated, and she headed off to college at Texas Women's University.
A semester later she transferred to North Texas State University, a college known for its artsy atmosphere. After his high school graduation, Stan also enrolled at North Texas State, intent on studying law. Anne never completed her sophmore year in coll
ege, as she moved to San Francisco to hunt for a job. Stan and Anne sent letters back and forth periodically, until one day at around seven in the morning a special delivery letter arrived for Anne. It was a note from Stan. It read "I want you to be my
Anne O'Brien and Stan Rice were married on October 14th, 1961, by a justice of the peace instead of a formal church wedding. The simple ceremony took place in the Texas home of one of Stan's English professors. Anne wore a blue brocade shirtwaist dress
with long sleeves and a flared skirt. Stan wore a suit. After Stan finished his sophmore year at North Texas State, the couple packed up and headed for San Francisco.
The newlyweds enrolled in San Francisco University in 1962. They graduated two years later, Anne with a B.A. in Political Science, Stan with a B.A. in Creative Writing. Stan decided to start in the graduate program, and Anne continued to write short sto
ries. They lived in a small apartment that became a virtual hangout for friends and a frequent location for jazz parties. Drugs were abundant, but Anne herself tried marijuana only briefly, and gave it up entirely when she discovered she was pregnant at
age twenty-four. Anne immensely enjoyed carrying her first child, and looked foward to the prospect of having a family.
Michele Rice, later given the nickname "Mouse", was born on September 21st, 1966. Stan and Anne shared equally in raising their blond haired, brown-eyed daughter. Stan also accepted a teaching job at San Francisco State to help support the new addition
to the family. Throughout the next several years Anne and Stan both continued to write copiously. Anne attended graduate school for English.
Sadly, the Rices' happy life was interrupted when four-year-old Michele suddenly became ill and was rushed to the hospital. The doctors diagnosed Michele with acute granuleucytic leukemia. Her parents tried desparately to delay the inevitable, consulti
ng many doctors and medical journals in an effort to discover more about their daughter's illness. In the meantime they made certain that Michele be able to enjoy her life to the utmost. Michele was given many kinds of drugs, but was eventually hospita
lized because of weakness and acute pain. Finally, on August 5th, at five in the morning, Michele's heart stopped beating. Doctors and nurses tried desparately to revive the child with Anne and Stan by their sides, however all attempts at recessitation
After the death of her first child, Anne decided to write full time. She threw herself into the manuscript of "Interview With the Vampire" and finished the novel in five weeks. Her first attempt to have the novel published was rejected. Eventually Anne
met Phyllis Seidel, who agreed to represent the novel and managed to sell it to Vicky Wilson at Knoph publishing. Rice was given a 12,000 advance. In 1976 "Interview with the Vampire" was finally published. Paramount bought the film rights for $150,000
Two years later Anne's second child, Christoper Rice, was born on March 11th. The couple and their son remained in the San Francisco area for the next nine years. Stan continued to write poetry and published several collections, while Anne continued to
write and publish short stories. Finally, in 1988 the Rice family returned to New Orleans and eventually settled permanently in a large mansion in the Garden District. In 1990 Rice began the Mayfair Witch Chronicles (of which "Lasher" is the second inst
allment). Knopf publishing gave her a $5 million dollar advance. Shortly after "The Witching Hour" was published, Anne's father, Howard, died. Two years later Anne completed and published the sequel in the Mayfair Witch Trilogy: "Lasher" was released
Currently, Anne still resides with her husband and son in their New Orleans mansion. In December of 1998, Anne suffered a life-threatening collapse and was rushed to the hospital in a coma. She was diagnosed with diabetes in Janurary. Since her
diagnosis she had been resting at her home and learning how to cope with her illness. By all accounts, she seems to be on the road to a healthly recovery. She has just released a new addition to the Vampire Chronicles, the novel "Vittorio" was released
earlier this year. Due to her illness, she will not be touring to promote its release.
Sources used for this biographical description are as follows:
1. Smith, Jennifer. Anne Rice.
Greenwood Publishing Group. Westport, CT: 1996.
2. Hoppenstand, Gary and Browne, Ray B. The Gothic World of Anne Rice.
Bowling Green State University Popular Press. Bowling Green, OH: 1996.
3. Marcus, Jana. In the Shadow of the Vampire.
Thunder's Mouth Press. New York, NY: 1997.
4. Ramsland, Katherine. Prism of the Night: A Biography of Anne Rice.
Penguin Books USA, Inc. New York, NY: 1992. (All quotations come from this book)
5. Anne Rice's webpage: www.annerice.com