A Short History of Modern Fantasy

Fantasy literature is literature set in an imaginary universe, often but not always without any locations, events, or people from the real world. Magic, the supernatural and magical creatures are common in many of these imaginary worlds.

Fantasy is a subgenre of speculative fiction and is distinguished from the genres of science fiction and horror by the absence of scientific or macabre themes, respectively, though these genres overlap. Historically, most works of fantasy were written, however, since the 1960s, a growing segment of the fantasy genre has taken the form of films, television programs, graphic novels, video games, music and art

After 1901

H. P. Lovecraft (1890 – 1937)

  • The Rats in the Walls (1924)
  • The Call of Cthulhu (1928)
  • At the Mountains of Madness (1936)
  • The Shadow over Innsmouth (1936)
  • The Shadow Out of Time (1936)
Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851)
  • Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818)

E.R. Eddison (1882 – 1945)

  • The Worm Ouroboros (1922)
  • Zimiamvian Trilogy (1935-1958)

Lord Dunsany (1878 – 1957)

  • The King of Elfland’s Daughter (1924)

Robert E. Howard (1906 – 1936)
“The Father of Sword & Sorcery”

  • Solomon Kane (from 1928)
  • Conan The Barbarian (from 1932)

C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)

  • The Chronicles of Narnia
    • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
    • Prince Caspian (1951)
    • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
    • The Silver Chair (1953)
    • The Horse and His Boy (1954)
    • The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
    • The Last Battle (1956)

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892 – 1973)
“Father of modern/high fantasy”

  • The Hobbit (1937)
  • The Lord of the Rings
    • The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
    • The Two Towers (1954)
    • The Return of the King (1955)
  • The Silmarillion (1997)

Mervyn Peake (1911 – 1968)

  • Gormenghast series
    • Titus Groan (1946)
    • Gormenghast (1950)
    • Titus Alone (1959)
    • Titus Awakes (2009)
    • Boy in Darkness (1956)

L. Sprague de Camp (1907 – 2000)
First to use “E.T.” for alien life beond Earth.

  • Harold Shea (from 1940, short stories )
  • Gavagan’s Bar (from 1950, short stories)
  • Land of Unreason (1942)
  • Pusadian series (from 1951)
  • Novarian series (from 1968)
  • The Incorporated Knight series (from 1970)
  • The Incorporated Knight (1988)
  • The Pixliated Peeress (1991)

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929 – 2018)

  • Earth Sea (from 1968, six books and eight short stories)