Barbara Hambly

Barbara Hambly (born August 28, 1951) is an American novelist and screenwriter within the genres of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and historical fiction. She has a bestselling mystery series featuring a free man of color, a musician and physician, in New Orleans in the antebellum years. She also wrote a novel about Mary Todd Lincoln.

Her science fiction novels occur within an explicit multiverse, as well as within previously existing settings (notably as established by Star Trek and Star Wars).

Barbara Hambly
BornAugust 28, 1951 (age 67)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Pen nameBarbara Hamilton
OccupationNovelist, short story author, screenwriter
GenreScience fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, historical fiction

Early life and education

Hambly was born in San Diego, California and grew up in Montclair, California. Her parents, Everett Edward Hambly Jr. and Florence Elizabeth (Moraski) Hambly, are from Fall River, Massachusetts; and Scranton, Pennsylvania (respectively). She has an older sister, Mary Ann Sanders, and a younger brother, Everett Edward Hambly, III. In her early teens, after reading J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, she affixed images of dragons to her bedroom door. She became interested in costumery from an early age, and has been a long-time participant in Society for Creative Anachronism activities. In the mid-1960s, the Hambly family spent a year in Australia.

Hambly has a Masters in Medieval History from the University of California, Riverside. She completed her degree in 1975 and spent a year in Bordeaux as part of her studies.


She chose work that allowed her time to write;[1] all of her novels contain a biography paragraph with a litany of jobs: high school teacher, model, waitress, technical editor, all-night liquor store clerk, and Shotokan karate instructor. Her first published novel was Time of the Dark (1982).

Hambly served as President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America from 1994 to 1996. Her works have been nominated for many awards in the fantasy and horror fiction categories, winning a Locus Award for Best Horror Novel Those Who Hunt the Night (1989) (released in the UK as Immortal Blood) and the Lord Ruthven Award for fiction for its sequel, Travelling With the Dead (1996).[2]

Marriage and personal life

Hambly was married for some years to George Alec Effinger, a science fiction writer. He died in 2002. She lives in Los Angeles. Hambly speaks freely of suffering from seasonal affective disorder, which was undiagnosed for years.[3]

Themes within fantasy

Hambly's work has several themes. She has a penchant for unusual characters within the fantasy genre, such as the menopausal witch and reluctant scholar-lord in the Winterlands trilogy, or the philologist secret service agent in the vampire novels.[4]

Her writing is filled with rich descriptions and characters whose actions bear consequences for both their lives and relationships, suffusing her series with a sense of loss and regret.[3] Hambly's characters suffer the pain of frustrated aspirations to a degree that is uncommon in most fantasy novels.[5]

Though using many standard clichés and plot devices of the fantasy genre, her works explore the ethical implications of the consequences of these devices, and what their effect is for the characters, were they real people. In avoiding the "...easy consolatory self-identification of genre fantasy"[5] (p. 449) and refusing to let her work be guided more explicitly by conventions and the desires of her audience, Hambly may have missed out on more remunerative success and acclaim.[5]

Although magic exists in many of her settings, it is not used as an easy solution but follows rules and takes energy from the wizards. The unusual settings are generally rationalized as alternative universes.

Hambly heavily researches her settings, either in person or through books, frequently drawing upon her degree in medieval history for background and depth.[6]


Benjamin January mysteries

This historical mystery series begins with A Free Man of Color (1997) and features Benjamin January, a brilliant, classically educated, free colored surgeon and musician living in New Orleans during the antebellum years of the 1830s. At the time, New Orleans had a large and prosperous population of free people of color. Born a slave, as his mother was enslaved, January was freed as a young child by his mother's lover, under the plaçage system. Provided with an excellent education, he gained fluency in several classical and modern languages, and was thoroughly versed in the whole of classical Western learning and arts. He studied medicine in Paris, where he trained as a surgeon. He returned to Louisiana to escape the memory of his late wife, a woman from North Africa. As a free black in Louisiana, he cannot find work as a surgeon. He earns a modest living by his exceptional talent as a musician.

Each title is a murder mystery. Each explores many aspects of French Creole and overall Louisiana society. Most tend to emphasize some particular element of antebellum Louisiana life, such as Voodoo religion (Graveyard Dust), opera and music (Die Upon a Kiss), the annual epidemics of yellow fever and malaria (Fever Season), fear of miscegenation (Dead and Buried), or the harsh nature of commercial sugar production by enslaved labor (Sold Down the River).

Themes of the series are 1) the cultural clash between the rising Protestant English-speaking Anglo-Americans, and the declining Catholic, French-speaking Creoles, 2) skin color discrimination within the society of Creoles of color, with favor given to lighter-skinned persons 3) January's bitterness at the many forms of racial injustice he observes, 4) the complex, partially race-based sexual politics of colonial French and United States society, and 5) January's comparison of what he thinks of as the open and frank African outlook of his early childhood with the more restrained and rational European worldview he acquired through education and experience. This last theme occurs most often with respect to music, spirituality, and respect for law and social custom.

  • A Free Man of Color (1997)
  • Fever Season (1998)
  • Graveyard Dust (1999)
  • Sold Down the River (2000)
  • Die upon a Kiss (2001)
  • Wet Grave (2002)
  • Days of the Dead (2003)
  • Dead Water (2004)
  • Dead and Buried (2010)[7]
  • The Shirt On His Back (2011)[8]
  • Ran Away (2011)[9]
  • Good Man Friday (2013)[10]
  • Crimson Angel (2014)[11]
  • Drinking Gourd (2016) [12]
  • Murder in July (2017) [13]
  • Cold Bayou (2018) [14]

Short stories

  • "Libre" (2006, short story in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, November 2006, Salute to New Orleans issue. Available on Hambly's website.)
  • "There Shall Your Heart Be Also" (2007, short story in New Orleans Noir, ed. Julie Smith. Available on Hambly's website.)
  • "A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven" (2010, short story starring Rose and Dominique, and taking place while Benjamin is away (plot of The Shirt On His Back). Available on Hambly's website.)

Historical fiction

  • Search the Seven Hills [originally The Quirinal Hill Affair] (1983)
  • The Emancipator's Wife (2005; finalist for the Michael Shaara Prize for Excellence in a Civil War Novel, 2006)
  • Patriot Hearts (2007)
  • Homeland: A Novel (2009)

Abigail Adams Mysteries (written as Barbara Hamilton)

  • The Ninth Daughter (2009)
  • A Marked Man (2010)
  • Sup with the Devil (2011)

Sherlock Holmes short story pastiches

  • "The Adventure of the Antiquarian’s Niece" (2003, Shadows Over Baker Street, ed. Michael Reaves & John Pelan)
  • "The Dollmaker of Marigold Walk" (2003, My Sherlock Holmes, ed. Michael Kurlan, featuring the First Mrs. Watson)
  • "The Lost Boy" (2008, Gaslight Grimoire, ed. J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec, featuring the First Mrs. Watson)

Anne Steelyard: The Garden of Emptiness

  • An Honorary Man (2008, graphic novel)
  • The Gate of Dreams and Starlight (2009, graphic novel)
  • A Thousand Waters (2011, graphic novel)


The Darwath Trilogy

  • The Time of the Dark (1982)
  • The Walls of Air (1983)
  • The Armies of Daylight (1983)

Darwath novels

  • Mother of Winter (1996; Locus award nominee 1997)
  • Icefalcon's Quest (1998)
  • "Pretty Polly" (2010, original short story available on Hambly's website.)

Sun Wolf and Starhawk

  • The Ladies of Mandrigyn (1984; Locus award nominee, 1985)
  • The Witches of Wenshar (1987; Locus award nominee, 1988)
  • The Unschooled Wizard (The Ladies of Mandrigyn & The Witches of Wenshar omnibus; 1987)
  • The Dark Hand of Magic (1990)
  • "A Night with the Girls" (2010, an original short story available on Hambly's website.)
  • "Fairest In The Land" (2011, an original short story available on Hambly's website.)


  • Dragonsbane (1985; Locus Award nominee, 1986 and 1987)
  • Dragonshadow (1999; Locus Award nominee, 2000)
  • Knight of the Demon Queen (2000; Locus Award nominee, 2001)
  • Dragonstar (2002)
  • Princess (2010, novella starring John Aversin. Now available on Hambly's website.)

The Windrose Chronicles

  • The Silent Tower (1986)
  • The Silicon Mage (1988)
  • Darkmage (1988, omnibus of The Silent Tower and The Silicon Mage)
  • Dog Wizard (1993; Locus Award nominee, 1994)
  • Stranger at the Wedding (also published as Sorcerer's Ward) (1994) - not the same main characters, but the same world

Windrose Novellas/Novelettes:

  • "Firemaggot" (2010, an original short story available on Smashwords)
  • "Corridor" (2011, an original short story available on Smashwords)
  • "Plus-One" (2012, an original short story available on Smashwords)
  • "Personal Paradise" (2014, an original short story available on Smashwords)
  • "Zénobie" (July 2015, an original short story available on Smashwords)[15]
  • "...Pretty Maids All in a Row" (October 2015)

Star Trek Universe

  • Ishmael (1985)
  • Ghost-Walker (1991)
  • Crossroad (1994)

James Asher, Vampire Novels

  1. Those Who Hunt the Night, AKA Immortal Blood (UK title) (1988; Locus Award winner for Best Horror Novel in 1989)
  2. Traveling with the Dead (1995; Locus Award nominee, 1996, winner of the Lord Ruthven Award, 1996)
  3. Blood Maidens (2010)
  4. Magistrates of Hell (2012)
  5. The Kindred of Darkness (2014)
  6. Darkness on His Bones (2015)
  7. Pale Guardian (U.K. 2016, U.S. 2017)[16]
  8. Prisoner of Midnight (U.S. 2019)[17]

Short stories

  • "Sunrise on Running Water" (2007, short story in Dark Delicacies II: Fear: More Original Tales of Terror and the Macabre by the World's Greatest Horror Writers, set in the world of the James Asher novels).

Beauty and the Beast


  • The Rainbow Abyss (1991; Locus Award nominee, 1992)
  • The Magicians of Night (1992; Locus Award nominee, 1993)

Star Wars Universe

  • Children of the Jedi (1995)
  • "Nightlily: The Lovers' Tale" (1995, short story in the anthology Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina)
  • "Taster's Choice: The Tale of Jabba's Chef" (1996, short story from the anthology Tales from Jabba's Palace)
  • "Murder in Slushtime" (1997, short story published in Star Wars Adventure Journal 14)
  • Planet of Twilight (1997)

Raven Sisters

  • Sisters of the Raven (2002)
  • Circle of the Moon (2005)

Standalone works

  • Bride of the Rat God (1994; Locus Award nominee, 1995)and (sequel) Castle of Horror (April 2016, Amazon/Kindle)[18]
  • Magic Time (2002) (with Marc Zicree. The first of a trilogy. The other two volumes are by other authors: Angelfire by Marc Scott Zicree and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, and Ghostlands by Marc Scott Zicree and Robert Charles Wilson.)
  • Renfield: Slave of Dracula (2006)
  • "Someone Else's Shadow" (short story in the Night's Edge anthology)


  1. ^ "Biography of Barbara Hambly". 1999-09-17. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
  2. ^ "Books and awards". Retrieved 2013-02-07.
  3. ^ a b yGen User (2005-12-25). "Interview with Andromeda Spaceways". Archived from the original on 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
  4. ^ "Review of female characters in Barbara Hambly novels" Archived 2006-11-14 at the Wayback Machine, Strange Horizons
  5. ^ a b c Clute, J. & Grant, J. (1999). The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. Orbit: London (UK)
  6. ^ Review of Barbara Hambly as an author Archived 2006-06-14 at the Wayback Machine, Future Fiction website
  7. ^ "Severn House". Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Severn House". Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Severn House". Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Severn House". Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Severn House". Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Severn House". Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  13. ^ "Severn House". Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Severn House". Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  15. ^ "Smashwords – About Barbara Hambly". Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  16. ^ "Severn House". Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Severn House". Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  18. ^ "(no title)". Retrieved 21 January 2018.

External links

Barbara Hambly (field hockey)

Barbara Hambly OBE (born 12 March 1958 in Chichester, West Sussex) is a former field hockey player from England, who captained the British squad at the 1988 Summer Olympics. She was appointed OBE in the 1990 New Year Honours.

Benjamin January mysteries

The Benjamin January mysteries is a series of historical murder mystery novels by Barbara Hambly. The series is named after the main character of the books.

The Benjamin January mysteries are set in and around New Orleans during the 1830s, and focus primarily on the free black community which existed at that time and place. The first book was published in 1997, and the series is still on-going. The first eight books in the series were published by Bantam Press, with the subsequent four being published by Severn House Publishers. The second book in the series, Fever Season, was named a New York Times Notable Mystery Book of 1998. Seven books in the series (Fever Season, Dead Water, The Shirt on His Back, Ran Away, Good Man Friday, Crimson Angel, and Drinking Gourd ) have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly.

Budayeen Nights

Budayeen Nights is a collection of cyberpunk science fiction short stories and novelettes by George Alec Effinger, published in 2003. The work consists of nine individual stories by Effinger, with a foreword and story introductions by Barbara Hambly. Seven of the nine stories had been published previously in other forms, such as magazines, while one consists of the first two chapters of Word of Night, which was to be the fourth book in the Marîd Audran series, following The Exile Kiss.Budayeen Nights was published posthumously; Effinger having died in April 2002. The paperback edition was released in September 2008.

Children of the Jedi

Children of the Jedi is a 1995 Star Wars novel by American writer Barbara Hambly. The novel is set several months after the Jedi Academy Trilogy in the Star Wars expanded universe timeline. Moreover, it serves as book one in a three book cycle involving Callista, an ex-Jedi Knight. The next book in the cycle is Darksaber by Kevin J. Anderson. Hambly also wrote the final novel in the cycle, Planet of Twilight.


Darksaber is a 1995 Star Wars novel by American writer Kevin J. Anderson. The novel is set immediately after Children of the Jedi and one year before Planet of Twilight in the Star Wars expanded universe timeline.

Dog Wizard

Dog Wizard is a fantasy novel by Barbara Hambly and published by Del Rey Books in February, 1993. The book was a 1994 Locus Award nominee, and the third book of the Windrose Chronicles.


Dragonsbane is a fantasy novel written by author Barbara Hambly and published by Del Rey Books in 1985.

Gaslight series

The Gaslight series is a set of four anthologies of short fiction combining the character of Sherlock Holmes with elements of fantasy, horror, adventure and supernatural fiction. It consists of Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes (2008), Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes (2009), Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes (2011) and Gaslight Gothic: Strange Tales of Sherlock Holmes (2018).

The first volume was published in October 2008 by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The book was edited by J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec, with a foreword by David Stuart Davies. Cover art was by Timothy Lantz; the book features twelve full-page black and white illustrations by Phil Cornell.

The story "His Last Arrow" by Christopher Sequeira was nominated for a WSFA Small Press Award in 2009.


Ghost-Walker is a Star Trek: The Original Series novel written by Barbara Hambly.


Hambly is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Barbara Hambly (born 1951), American novelist and screenwriter of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and historical fiction

Barbara Hambly (field hockey) (born 1958), former English field hockey player, captained the British squad at the 1988 Summer Olympics

Brian Hambly (1938–2008), Australian rugby league player, a representative forward for the Australia national team 1959–1965

Charles Wesley Hambly (born 1863), drover and political figure in Ontario

Edmund Hambly (1942–1995), British structural engineer

Gary Hambly (born 1956), Australian former professional rugby league footballer

Kevin Hambly (born 1973), American volleyball coach at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Thomas Hambly Ross (1886–1956), Canadian politician

Tim Hambly (born 1983), American professional ice hockey defenceman

Ishmael (Star Trek)

Ishmael is a novel by Barbara Hambly, set in the Star Trek fictional universe.

Mad Norwegian Press

Mad Norwegian Press is an American publisher of science-fiction guides and novels. The company has worked with authors such as Harlan Ellison, Peter David, Diana Gabaldon, Tanya Huff, Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal, Seanan McGuire, Barbara Hambly, Martha Wells, Juliet E. McKenna, Aliette de Bodard, Jody Lynn Nye, Catherynne M. Valente, Rachel Swirsky, Melissa Scott, Hal Duncan, Brit Mandelo, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Nancy Holder, Sharon Shinn, Jeanne C. Stein, Colleen Doran, Jill Thompson, Jen Van Meter, Marjorie Liu, Sarah Monette, Mark Waid, Lyda Morehouse, Paul Magrs, Gary Russell, Robert Shearman, Lance Parkin, Andrew Cartmel, Steve Lyons, Lawrence Miles and Tat Wood.

Mad Norwegian was founded by Lars Pearson, a former staffer at Wizard Magazine, and is based in Des Moines, Iowa.

The majority of the company's output is reference guides to science-fiction series such as Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and The X-Files. As a rule of thumb, such guides examine the continuity that governs each show --- taking into consideration how different episodes reconcile against each other, for instance --- along with critiques, theorizing and behind-the-scenes details. The "About Time" series, a series of guidebooks to Doctor Who, deviates from this formula somewhat by examining the political and cultural context (as well as the development of television) that influenced Doctor Who on a year-by-year basis during its initial 26-year run (from 1963 to 1989).

From 2002 to 2006, Mad Norwegian produced a series of Faction Paradox novels, using concepts and characters as created by Lawrence Miles.

The company has a series of essay collections pertaining to women and fandom: the Hugo-Award-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords (2010), Whedonistas! (2011) and the Hugo-Award-nominated Chicks Dig Comics (2012), and the Hugo-Award-nominated Chicks Unravel Time (2012).

Forthcoming from Mad Norwegian the essay collection Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It, with an introduction by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman.

Penny-Farthing Press

Penny-Farthing Press is a comic book publishing company located in Houston, Texas, in the United States. Started in 1998 with "a plan to create comic books and children's books that exemplified quality storytelling, artwork, and printing," Penny-Farthing has expanded from its single original title, The Victorian, to a number of other titles.

Planet of Twilight

Planet of Twilight is a 1997 novel by Barbara Hambly, set in the Star Wars galaxy.

Tales from Jabba's Palace

Tales from Jabba's Palace is an anthology of short stories set in the fictional Star Wars universe. The book was edited by Kevin J. Anderson and released on December 1, 1995.

Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina

Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina (1995) is an anthology of short stories set in the fictional Star Wars universe. The book is edited by Kevin J. Anderson. It is based on characters seen in the Mos Eisley cantina, a shady bar filled with aliens that was first shown in the 1977 film Star Wars.

Those Who Hunt the Night

Those Who Hunt the Night (also published under the title Immortal blood) is a 1988 horror/mystery novel by Barbara Hambly. It won the Locus Award winner for Best Horror Novel in 1989.

Traveling with the Dead

Traveling with the Dead is a 1995 horror/mystery novel by American writer Barbara Hambly. It was a 1996 Locus Award nominee, and winner of the Lord Ruthven Award, 1996.

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