Anne Rice was born on October 4, 1941, in New Orleans, but her name wasn’t Anne then. Instead, her parents named her Howard Allen O’Brien because they thought it was a powerful name that would give her a head start in life. She was baptized at St. Alphonsus Church, the same church in which she would later have all the Mayfair witches baptized, and she grew up in the neighborhoods in which the witches grew up, hearing ghost stories that were accepted as truth and dreaming of the great houses and their mysteries. New Orleans gave her both Catholicism and voodoo, a potent inspiration for any beginning writer. By the time she started school, she was already writing stories.
She was also showing signs that she was going to surprise people. On her first day of school in 1947, when her teaching nun Sister Hyacinth asked what her name was, she said ‘‘Anne’’ before her mother could say ‘‘Howard.’’ ‘‘All right,’’ her mother said. ‘‘If she wants to be Anne, let her be Anne.’’ And Anne she was from that day on. Her mother’s agreement was not that much of a surprise. A deeply religious woman who was also the finest storyteller Anne had ever heard, Anne’s mother had always encouraged the creativity of all her children, telling them that she expected them to be geniuses and giving them plenty of freedom. Thus Anne not only read a lot but she also went to the movies, especially the horror films she loved. When she was nine, she learned about vampires for the first time when she saw the film Dracula’s Daughter, later