Robert William Chambers (May 26, 1865 — December 16, 1933) was an American artist and fiction writer, best known for his book of short stories titled The King in Yellow, published in 1895.
Chambers studied in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian from 1886 to 1893, and his work was displayed at the Salon as early as 1889. On his return to New York, he succeeded in selling his illustrations to Life, Truth, and Vogue magazines. Then, for reasons unclear, he devoted his time to writing, producing his first novel, In the Quarter, written in 1887 in Munich. His most famous, and perhaps most meritorious, effort is The King in Yellow, a collection of Art Nouveau short stories published in 1895. This included several famous weird short stories which are connected by the theme of a fictitious drama of the same title, which drives those who read it insane. E. F. Bleiler described The King in Yellow as one of the most important works of American supernatural fiction. It was also strongly admired by H. P. Lovecraft and his circle.
Chambers returned to the weird genre in his later short story collections The Maker of Moons, The Mystery of Choice and The Tree of Heaven, but none earned him as much success as The King in Yellow. Some of Chambers's work contains elements of science fiction, such as In Search of the Unknown and Police!!!, about a zoologist who encounters monsters.
Chambers later turned to writing romantic fiction to earn a living. According to some estimates, Chambers had one of the most successful literary careers of his period, his later novels selling well and a handful achieving best-seller status. Chambers' romance novels often featured intimate relationships between "caddish" men and sexually willing women, resulting in some reviewers accusing Chambers' works of promoting immorality. Many of his works were also serialised in magazines.
Robert W. Chambers died on December 16, 1933.