Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Pan Book of Horror Stories

UK annual Anthology series which ran to 30 volumes (1959-1989), the first 25 vols ed Herbert van Thal (1904-1983) and the remainder ed Clarence Paget (1909-1991), after which the series was retitled Dark Voices.

Van Thal had long believed in the merits of an annual Horror anthology. He interested the publisher Pan in The Pan Book of Horror Stories (anth 1959; vt The First Pan Book of Horror Stories 1960). This volume, which rode on the back of the success of the Hammer horror movies, was so successful that Pan agreed to an annual series, which thereafter missed only 1961. The initial anthologies were almost entirely of reprints, drawing on Victorian Ghost Stories and tales from the 1920s and 1930s, especially from the Creeps Library and Not at Night series. These focused more on physical than supernatural horror, and this element was still the main content of the series when it switched to mostly original material, from The Sixth Pan Book of Horror Stories (anth 1965) onwards. By the end of the 1960s the series had established a reputation for graphic violence that marginalized it from mainstream Weird Fiction, but which has since been seen as forerunning Splatterpunk. The series published some of the first stories by Basil Copper (1924-2013), Richard Davis (1945-    ), Alex Hamilton (1930-    ) and Tanith Lee, and revived the career of Charles Birkin. Its success not only launched many rival publications in the UK (e.g., Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories) but also raised new interest in the horror genre in the USA. The series in effect resurrected horror fiction as a publishing genre. Its highlight was the reprinting of stories by David Case (1937-    ), whose work had hitherto been overlooked.

From The 21st Pan Book of Horror Stories (anth 1980), with the reprinting of stories by Stephen King, the series began to receive wider acceptance among major horror writers, with stories appearing by Christopher Fowler, Nicholas Royle (1963-    ), Alan Ryan (1943-    ) and Jessica Amanda Salmonson. Yet it never rid itself of its image of graphic violence and added little by way of memorable fiction. Van Thal made a selection of his favourite stories from the first 3 vols, Striking Terror! (anth 1963), while in the USA 3 vols appeared as Selections from Pan Horror #3 (anth 1970 US), #4 (anth 1970 US) and #5 (anth 1970 US).

In 1989 it was agreed to give the series a facelift. Assisted by Stephen Jones, Clarence Paget assembled Dark Voices: The Best from the Pan Book of Horror Stories (anth 1990) with personal tributes by many leading writers. The series then continued as Dark Voices under the joint editorship of Stephen Jones and David A Sutton (1947-    ), with #2 (anth 1990), #3 (anth 1991), #4 (anth 1992), #5 (anth 1993) and #6 (anth 1994). Under Jones and Sutton the series more closely reflected modern horror, with stories (original and reprinted) by many of today's leading writers, including Ramsey Campbell, Basil Copper, Stephen Gallagher (1954-    ), Robert Holdstock, Kathe Koja (1960-    ), Graham Masterton (1946-    ), Kim Newman and David J Schow (1955-    ). After #6 the series was dropped by Pan and (retitled) taken up by Gollancz, starting with Dark Terrors (anth 1995). [MA]

Main series: The Pan Book of Horror Stories (anth 1959; vt The First Pan Book of Horror Stories 1960); Second (anth 1960), Third (anth 1962), Fourth (anth 1963), Fifth (anth 1964), Sixth (anth 1965), Seventh (anth 1966), Eighth (anth 1967), Ninth (anth 1968), Tenth (anth 1969), Eleventh (anth 1970), Twelfth (anth 1971), 13th (anth 1972), 14th (anth 1973), 15th (anth 1974), 16th (anth 1975), 17th (anth 1976), 18th (anth 1977), 19th (anth 1978), 20th (anth 1979), 21st (anth 1980), 22nd (anth 1981), 23rd (anth 1982), 24th (anth 1983), 25th (anth 1984), these all ed van Thal; 26th (anth 1985), 27th (anth 1986), 28th (anth 1987), 29th (anth 1988) and 30th (anth 1989), all ed Clarence Paget.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.