Robert W. Chambers

Robert W. Chambers

Infobox Writer
name = Robert William Chambers

quote = "I have always liked to change, to experiment......"
birthdate = birth date|1865|5|26|mf=y
birthplace = Brooklyn, New York, United States
deathdate = death date and age|1933|12|16|1865|5|26|mf=y
deathplace = Broadalbin, New York
occupation = short story writer
genre = Horror, Fantasy , Science fiction , Romance , Historical fiction
movement =
notableworks =
influences = Ambrose Bierce
influenced = H.P.Lovecraft , August Derleth , James Blish , Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson , Marion Zimmer Bradley, Paul Edwin Zimmer

Robert William Chambers (May 26, 1865December 16, 1933) was an American artist and writer.


He was born in Brooklyn, New York, to William P. Chambers (1827 - 1911), a famous lawyer, and Caroline Chambers ("née" Boughton), a direct descendant of Roger Williams, the founder of Providence, Rhode Island. Robert's brother was Walter Boughton Chambers, the world famous architect.

Robert was first educated at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute,and then entered the Art Students' League at around the age of twenty, where the artist Charles Dana Gibson was his fellow student. Chambers studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, and at Académie Julian, in Paris from 1886 to 1893, and his work was displayed at the Salon as early as 1889. On his return to New York, he succeeded in selling his illustrations to "Life", "Truth", and "Vogue" magazines. Then, for reasons unclear, he devoted his time to writing, producing his first novel, "In the Quarter" (written in 1887 in Munich). His most famous, and perhaps most meritorious, effort is "The King in Yellow", a collection of weird short stories, connected by the theme of the fictitious drama "The King in Yellow", which drives those who read it insane.

Chambers returned to the weird genre in his later short story collections "The Maker of Moons" and "The Tree of Heaven", but neither earned him such success as "The King in Yellow".

Chambers later turned to writing romantic fiction to earn a living. According to some estimates, Chambers was one of the most successful literary careers of his period, his later novels selling well and a handful achieving best-seller status. Many of his works were also serialized in magazines.

After 1924 he devoted himself solely to writing historical fiction.

Chambers for several years made Broadalbin his summer home. Some of his novels touch upon colonial life in Broadalbin and Johnstown.

On July 12, 1898, he married Elsa Vaughn Moller (1882-1939). They had a son, Robert Edward Stuart Chambers (later calling himself Robert Husted Chambers) who also gained some fame as an author.

Chambers died at his home in the village of Broadalbin, New York, on December 16th 1933.

Criticism and legacy

H. P. Lovecraft said of Chambers in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith,

:"Chambers is like Rupert Hughes and a few other fallen Titans - equipped with the right brains and education but wholly out of the habit of using them." [Lovecraft, "Selected Letters" vol. 2, ed. August Derleth and Donald Wandrei (Arkham House, 1968), p. 148.]

Frederic Taber Cooper commented,

:"So much of Mr Chambers's work exasperates, because we feel that he might so easily have made it better." [Cooper, "Some American Story Tellers" (Henry Holt, 1911), p.81. Quoted in Joshi, "The Evolution of the Weird Tale", p.18.]

A critical essay on Chambers' horror and fantasy work appears in S. T. Joshi's book "The Evolution of the Weird Tale" (2004).

The fictitious play "The King in Yellow", which features in several of Chambers' weird tales, also appears in Karl Edward Wagner's story "The River of Night's Dreaming". James Blish's story "More Light" purports to include much of the actual text of the play.


*"In the Quarter" (1894)
*"The King in Yellow" (1895)
*"The Maker of Moons" (1896)
*"The Mystery of Choice" (1896)
*"Lorraine" (1897)
*"Ashes of Empire" (1898)
*"Cardigan" (1901)
*"In Search of the Unknown" (1904)
*"The Reckoning" (1905)
*"The Tracer of Lost Persons" (1906)
*"The Tree of Heaven" (1907)
*"The Green Mouse" (1907)
*"The Common Law" (1911)
*"Blue-Bird Weather" (1912) - Illustrated by Charles Dana Gibson
*"The Gay Rebellion" (1913)
*"Quick Action" (1914)
*"Athalie" (1915)
*"Who goes There!" (1915)
*"Police!!!" (1915)
*"The Girl Philippa"(1916)
*"The Slayer of Souls" (1920)
*"The Flaming Jewel" (1922)
*"The Talkers" (1923)
*"The Yellow Sign and Other Stories: The Complete Weird Tales of Robert W. Chambers" (2001, ed. S. T. Joshi)- collection of his horror and fantasy tales

For children

*"Outdoorland"(all before 1907)



*cite book | last=Bleiler | first=Everett | authorlink=Everett F. Bleiler | title=The Checklist of Fantastic Literature | location=Chicago | publisher=Shasta Publishers | pages=74-75 | date=1948

See the following web site for a much more complete listing of Chambers' fiction: [ Robert W Chambers ] at

• The Little Red Foot 1920

External links


NAME= Chambers, Robert William
SHORT DESCRIPTION= American artist and writer
DATE OF BIRTH= May 26, 1865
PLACE OF BIRTH= Brooklyn, New York, United States
DATE OF DEATH= December 16, 1933
PLACE OF DEATH= Broadalbin, New York

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