James Herbert’s book The Rates was released in 1974 (thebookseller.com)
Bestselling British author James Herbert, who made his name with his horror novel The Rats has died aged 69.
Herbert, who wrote 23 novels and sold more than 54 million copies worldwide, died at his home in Sussex. He was described by his editor Jeremy Trevathan as "one of the giants of popular fiction in the 20th century".
His final book, Ash, was published last week. His books have been reprinted in 34 languages worldwide.
The acclaimed horror writer, who was awarded an OBE in 2010, made his name with his debut novel, The Rats, which depicts a London that has been overrun by mutant rodents.
Following its publication, fellow author Peter James said of Herbert: "Jim reinvented the horror genre and brought it into the modern world. He set a benchmark with his writing that many writers subsequently have tried, without success, to emulate."
His other work included Portent, Nobody True and The Secret of Crickley Hall - all bestsellers.
In 2010 he was made the Grand Master of Horror by the World Horror Convention.
Trevathan added: "Jim Herbert was one of the keystone authors in a genre that had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. It's a true testament to his writing and his enduring creativity that his books continued to be huge bestsellers right up until his death.
"He has the rare distinction that his novels were considered classics of the genre within his lifetime. His death marks the passing of one of the giants of popular fiction in the 20th century."
He is survived by his wife Eileen, whom he married in 1967, and their three daughters, Kerry, Emma and Casey.
To contact the editor, e-mail: