10 of the Creepiest Author Photos Ever Captured
Some Holiday Cheer
Oh, hello, I didn’t see you there. Were you looking at my collection of strange photographs? Welcome, welcome, please come through the curtain. If you see anything you like, tell Wendy—she’ll make herself known to you at the proper moment.
Everyone who appears in the below collection of author photos is dead, except for Stephen King, who is much, much too big (and self-aware) to be offended that I called him creepy. I’ve also tried to limit my suggestions to official author photos, though those are not always easily identifiable—at the very least I’ve steered away from snapshots, despite the fact that they are arguably the creepiest of photographic forms. So now, without any further ado, here are the creepiest author photos I could find. I am sure the list is endless, so if you have further nominations, drop a photo or two into the comments—all our spines will thank you.
H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937)
If you Google H. P. Lovecraft, you may find, as I did, that in every single photograph he appears to be attempting to eat his own lips. And I mean every photograph, even the one (1) I found where he is also smiling. In many, as in the above, he has that weird all-black eye thing that is often, in television, used as a shorthand for demonic possession. Maybe he’s just nervous in front of the camera—but maybe he’s just creepy as hell. (Both nervous and creepy also an option.)
Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)
This man wrote books for children. Children! In this photograph, it looks like he has eaten several already today. This is what is on the back of my childhood copy of The Giving Tree—which actually, on second thought, is fair enough, considering that book is sadistic as hell.
Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995)
To be fair, this is a gorgeous photograph—but there’s no denying that the look on her face is saying: yes, Spider, yes, here they come over the hill; slowly now, don’t make a sound, I don’t trust them, you know I don’t trust them, but either way, our new friend will soon be dead, and then we will feast, and the look on Spider’s face is saying: run, you fool, run. (NB: Highsmith’s favorite cat was actually named Spider.)
Edward Gorey (1925-2000)
Of course the king of the macabre would have a creepy author photo—in fact there are quite a few spookily on-brand photographs of Gorey (there are also, I have to say, quite a few regal and luxurious ones of him lounging with cats and books or draped in vintage furs). But this late photo of him has everything: bare, spindly branches in the night, an incongruous umbrella, a mysterious structure, and a look askance.
Bram Stoker (1847-1912)
“Shh—did you hear that?”
Angela Carter (1940-1992)
There are many, many photos of Angela Carter in which she looks like your favorite aunt—big glasses, wry smile, wild hair, cat in lap—but in this one, the most widely used, she looks like a ghost girl lost in the woods, wondering who you are, and if you can help her.
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)
In this and in every photograph I found of Charles Baudelaire, he looks as though he’d like nothing more than to rip your dumb face right off your head. I mean, this man is making a silk bow tie and a receding hairline look downright menacing. It’s something in the eyes. . . and that French sneer.
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
Speaking of people who look like they want to kill you.
Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)
Oh, Jean Cocteau, you strange, strange man. This photograph is mild compared to most images of the French writer and artist, like the one where he’s choking himself, or the one where he’s wearing a little mask on his shoulder, but it’s still exceedingly odd.
Stephen King (b. 1947)
Stephen King’s first author photo is creepy, though it’s not quite as creepy as the photo that ran in his school paper when he sold Carrie:
And then of course, there’s the one where he’s standing in front of his house (soon to become a museum and writers’ retreat).
Well, that’s why he’s the king.
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