Are you the type to freak out when you spot a spider sharing the bathroom with you? Wait till you read what some spiders in literature can get up too. Who knew so many literary works were filled with creepy arachnids? Some are quite playful, but there are loads who’ll give you sleepless nights too. Which spider is your favorite?
1. Miss Spider from Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach
In this beloved children’s book, James takes pity on a spider whom he befriends. When the spider inadvertently grows extremely large (think about the same size as a human), James is taken aback. However, he soon realizes that his super-sized arachnid friend doesn’t wish to harm him but rather protect him as he had once shown her kindness. Awww…!
2. Anansi from African Folklore
This mysterious creature is depicted as a hustler with street smarts and is half spider and half man, but a full time mischief maker who is also known for their wisdom. So in short, Anansi is basically an African iteration of Loki, the god of mischief.
3. Grey Widower from Stephen King’s The Mist
This deadly spiders used the mist in Stephen King’s novel by the same name to their best advantage by hiding within and attacking passerby or customers who were stranded at the local pharmacy by ejecting projectiles that emitted corrosive webs that burnt through flesh and clothes before cocooning their victim’s remains to consume them later, much like one would utilize a doggy bag at the local restaurant.
4. Portia spider from Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
This species of evolved spider which was released into the human world accidentally is known to capture larger prey via mimicry, social coordination and adaptability. A multi talented spider, we stan!
5. Children of Ungoliant from LOTR by JRR Tolkien
This extremely malicious lineage of spiders despise the sunlight (even seeking to devour the sun itself!) and as a result they only reside in dark caverns where they lie in wait for victims. They migrated to Mirkwood after the Third Age (before which they lived in the South of Middle Earth). Since they are smart, sentient beings, they were weaponised by Melkor, the first dark lord and were instrumental in destroying the two trees of Valinor and also in capturing thirteen dwarves and Bilbo Baggins in their sticky webs during the quest to Lonely Mountain. Thankfully, one swipe of the elven blade and the group was able to evade their arachnid captors… Phew!
6. Shelob from LOTR by JRR Tolkien
A close relative of Ungliant, Shelob lurks in caves near Cirith Ingol and is responsible for ambushing Frodo twice in a row and paralysing the Hobbit with her poison while he was on his way to Mordor in an attempt to destroy the ring.
7. Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web by EB White
A particularly harmless barn spider, Charlotte lives on a farm with Wilbur the pig who keeps her company and she in return keeps him out of the slaughterhouse. She spins messages on her web to convey messages and is very much beloved.
8. Atlach Nacha from HP Lovecraft Mythos
This giant spider with a freakish almost human face also appeared in the short story The seven Geases by Clark Aliston Smith in 1934 and is known to inhabit the huge cavern under Mount Voormithadreth in the now vanished (and also highly fictional) Arctic Kingdom of Hyberborea. It is also known to spin webs that bridge the chasm between our world and Dreamland, but make sure you don’t cross its paths as it fatally pierces victims with just a puncture from its thousand spines before sucking out their bodily juices. Just when we thought spiders were more afraid of us, eh?
Fictional spiders have been a source of both inspiration and fascination for centuries, weaving their way into literature, film, and folklore. While these eight-legged creatures can be a source of fear for some (and rightfully so! Look at these examples! Grey Widower? Come on!), for others they offer an opportunity to explore the mysteries of nature in an imaginative way. Through the exploration of these mythical arachnids, we can gain a greater appreciation of the real-world creepy crawlies that surround us (and are sometimes even our pets – not mine though!).
If you want to create your very own unique famous spider for a story, book, or D&D campaign and want it to make an impact, head over to our free character profile template to really make your fictional spider pop!
Don’t forget to share this list with fellow literary nerds and that one weird friend who keeps a tarantula as their pet. If you want more from Adore, follow us on Instagram so we can bring you updates. Honestly we’d be so grateful! Until next time, dear readers…