Peter Straub, acclaimed horror author, dead at 79

Celebrated author Peter Straub, who first achieved widespread acclaim with 1979′s “Ghost Story” and went on to collaborate with horror master Stephen King, has died at the age of 79, his daughter confirmed via Instagram on Tuesday.

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“Peter Francis Straub, the smartest and most fun person in every room he was ever in, 3/2/43 - 9/4/22. How lucky we were. There aren’t enough words in the world,” Emma Straub wrote.

Straub, whose roughly 35-year career spawned an eclectic mix of psychological thrillers and macabre fantasies, died Sunday following a lengthy illness, The Guardian reported.

His debut horror novel, 1975′s “Julia,” was later adapted for the screen as “The Haunting of Julia,” and he stepped away from publishing following the 2010 release of “A Dark Matter,” The Guardian reported, noting that his collaborations with King on both 1984′s “The Talisman” and its 2001 sequel, “Black House,” entrenched the Milwaukee native among the genre’s royalty, a mantle he scorned.

Straub famously said in a 2002 interview with book critic Bob Minzesheimer that critics should judge writers by the quality of their work rather than focusing unduly on the subject matter, noting that he resented “being stuffed into the category of genre writer . . . as if genre writing is automatically second-rate and can become literary only by transcending the genre,” USA Today reported.

King, whose latest fantasy novel, “Fairy Tale,” hit bookshelves Tuesday, paid tribute to Straub and their longtime collaboration via social media.

“Working with him was one of the great joys of my creative life,” King tweeted.

Meanwhile, British author Neil Gaiman celebrated and mourned his longtime friend in a pair of posts.

“I’ll miss the books he would still have written, but more than that I’ll miss the conversations we’ll now never have,” Gaiman added in a separate tweet.

Born March 2, 1943, in Milwaukee, Straub studied English at the University of Wisconsin and earned his master’s degree from Columbia University before teaching English at his former prep school for three years, according to The Guardian.

He penned his first novel, “Marriages,” in 1973, but pivoted to gothic fiction at the suggestion of his agent, producing “Floating Dragon,” “The Ghost Village,” “The Throat” and “The Hellfire Club,” after realizing the success of 1975′s “Julia.”

During the course of his career, Straub won four World Fantasy Awards and 10 Bram Stoker Awards, the “premier achievement for literary horror.” He also won a Stoker lifetime achievement award in 2006, was named an International Horror Guild living legend in 2008 and received a lifetime achievement World Fantasy Award in 2010, among myriad other accolades, The Guardian reported.

Straub married Susan Bitker in 1966, and is survived by their two children, Ben and Emma.