Throughout history, countless authors have dabbled in the genre of horror; some of the prominent individuals include the Brothers Grimm, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft, Thomas Harris, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Clive Barker, and Dean Koontz, among countless others. No matter which of these authors is being discussed, though, their works generally have several elements in common: the ability to evoke a physical, emotional, or psychological response in readers; writing that forces the reader to consider actions and ideas that they would have otherwise avoided; and content that presents something impure or threatening.
The authors of these works come from all aspects of life and society, and from nearly all time periods; there is some evidence of writers specializing in horror narratives in the ancient world, for example. Culturally, these authors face significant criticism from the public in general; because horror literature is designed to make readers uncomfortable, horror writers run the risk of alienating their readers and seeing their works be relatively unsuccessful each and every time something is set for publication. One aspect of horror literature that is often focused on by scholars is the gender of the author: even in times of great social and professional repression of women, some of the most prominent horror authors were women. Authors like Mary Shelley and Anne Rice demonstrate the contributions of women to this genre. Just as these authors bucked tradition regarding what was socially acceptable for them to write, some authors work to expand the horror universe into new and altogether unique realms; whether it is the creation of the Cthulhuian universe by H.G. Wells or Stephen King's interweaving of storylines across his decades-long career, horror authors shatter boundaries as well as society's conceptions of what is "appropriate" literature.