VCU Libraries

Research Guides

James Branch Cabell (1879-1958)

This research guide has biographical and bibliographical information about the namesake of Virginia Commonwealth University's Library: James Branch Cabell.

The Fantasy Forerunner

Cabell's work has been considered  a forerunner of American and British fantasy fiction. Critically acclaimed authors like Neil Gaiman cite Cabell as an important influence. Gaiman's award winning 1990s graphic novel series The Sandman as well as his novel American Gods (published in 2001) have many elements that were influenced by Cabell's writing, particularly Cabell's Jurgen.  Science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein was taken by the boldness of Cabell's writing, and referred to his most famous work, Stranger in a Strange Land, as a "Cabellesque satire." After the popularity of J. R. R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings novels in the 1950s and 1960s, there was a revival of interest in James Branch Cabell's work.  The publisher Ballantine released an Adult Fantasy series which included the reprinting of six of Cabell's novels from 1969 to 1972, which reintroduced him to a new generation of fantasy genre readers.


Neil Gaiman Presents

Published in 2012, Neil Gaiman released a series of books by James Branch Cabell as audio books under his label, Neil Gaiman Presents. This includes Jurgen, Figures of Earth, and The High Place.