Tanith Lee was born 70 years ago

Tanith Lee in 2011
Tanith Lee in 2011

Tanith Lee (photo ©Danie Ware) was born on September 19, 1947 in London, England.

Affected by a form of dyslexia, Tanith Lee learned to read only when she was 8 but thanks to her parents’ books collection she got to know various literary genres. She started attending Croydon Art College but after one year she preferred to abandon it and began a number of jobs.

Tanith Lee’s debut as a writer took place in 1968 with a very short story, of only 90 words, published in an anthology. For some years she wrote in her free time because her novels were regularly rejected by publishers. The first novel she managed to publish was “The Dragon Hoard” in 1971, a work for children. Only in 1975 she was able to publish “The Birthgrave”, the first book of the series of the same name, which gave her fame.

The huge improvement in her situation allowed Tanith Lee to become a full-time writer and within a few years she published several novels that continued the Birthgrave series and began other series such as the The Wars of Vis series with “The Storm Lord” (1976), the Four-BEE series with “Don’t Bite the Sun” (1977), the Tales of the Flat Earth series with “Night’s Master” (1978) and the Castle of Dark series with “The Castle of Dark” (1978).

In the following years, Tanith Lee kept on being very prolific continuing her various series and starting more of them. Sometimes she also wrote self-contained novels and short fiction but generally included them in some series. Her works embraced various genres, from science fiction to fantasy, from horror to the historical novels, sometimes mixing genres exploring very diverse themes.

For years, Tanith Lee was a prolific writer, occasionally working as a screenwriter when she wrote two episodes of the TV show “Blake’s 7”. Over time, however, her ability to write for many hours a day and even night declined and was forced to progressively limit her activity.

Tanith Lee died on May 24, 2015 of breast cancer. She left more than 90 novels of various genres, 300 short stories and many poems. She didn’t win many awards but was greatly appreciated by readers thanks to her sophisticated and rich style, the result of inspiration not only to other writers but also to artists from other fields.

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