Tod Robbins

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Tod Robbins
BornClarence Aaron Robbins
June 25, 1888 (1888-06-25)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 10, 1949(1949-05-10) (aged 60)
GenreHorror, mystery fiction

Clarence Aaron Robbins (25 June 1888 – May 10, 1949), [1] billed as C. A. Robbins and better known as Tod Robbins, was an American author of horror and mystery fiction, particularly novels and short story collections.



Robbins was born in Brooklyn, June 25, 1888. He attended Washington and Lee University (Lexington, Virginia) and—along with Mark W. Sheafe (1884?–1949) and Thornton Whitney Allen (18901944)—wrote the college song "Washington and Lee Swing". Sheafe wrote the tune in 1905, Allen set the music down on paper in 1909, and Robbins provided the words. The completed version was published in 1910.

Robbins authored two short story collections and several novels. His work often contains bizarre and frightening plots, sometimes influenced by writers like Oscar Wilde (Robbins' "The Living Portrait" is a homage to The Picture of Dorian Gray ) [1] and Robert W. Chambers. [2] Robbins's Mysterious Martin (1912) is an early novel about a serial killer. [1] His novel The Unholy Three (1917) was twice adapted for the screen, a silent version directed by Tod Browning in 1925 and a sound version directed by Jack Conway in 1930; both adaptations starred Lon Chaney. Robbins was also the author of the short story "Spurs", which Browning used as the basis for Freaks (1932), a film which later developed a cult following. [1] Some of Robbins's work was later reprinted in the "Creeps" series of horror anthologies edited by Charles Birkin. [1]

Robbins' novel Fighting Mad reportedly won the $3,000 contest held in 1922 by Physical Culture magazine, serializing the novel beginning with the January 1922 issue. [3]

E. F. Bleiler described Robbins' Who Wants a Green Bottle? as "excellent commercial fiction, with good little touches". [4]


Robbins emigrated to the French Riviera from New York City and refused to leave during the Nazi occupation of France. He spent the war in a concentration camp and died in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat in 1949. [2]



Robbins's The Unholy Three was reprinted in Fantastic Novels in 1948 (under a slightly modified title) Fantastic novels 194811.jpg
Robbins's The Unholy Three was reprinted in Fantastic Novels in 1948 (under a slightly modified title)

Short story collections

Poetry collections

Pulp magazine appearances

Anthology appearances

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Brian Stableford, "Robbins, Tod", in David Pringle, ed., St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers (London: St. James Press, 1998) ISBN   1558622063
  2. 1 2 "His [Robbins'] fascination for murder and morbid psychology shows the influence of the Decadent movement and writers of horror fiction like Robert W. Chambers...." Chris Mikul, introduction to Freaks and Fantasies by Tod Robbins (Vancleave, MS: Ramble House, 2007), (p. 12). ISBN   1605430757
  3. Tod Robbins, "Fighting Mad: The Story of a Warped Soul", Physical Culture (January 1922), pp. 32ff.
  4. E. F. Bleiler, The Guide to Supernatural Fiction, Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1983.