Arthur Machen

Arthur Machen (/ˈmækən/; 3 March 1863 – 15 December 1947) was a Welsh author and mystic of the 1890s and early 20th century. He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction. His novella The Great God Pan (1890; 1894) has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror, with Stephen King describing it as "Maybe the best [horror story] in the English language."[1] He is also well known for "The Bowmen", a short story that was widely read as fact, creating the legend of the Angels of Mons.

Arthur Machen
Machen circa 1905
Machen circa 1905
BornArthur Llewellyn Jones
3 March 1863
Caerleon, Monmouthshire, Wales
Died15 December 1947 (aged 84)
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
OccupationShort story writer, novelist, journalist, actor
GenreHorror, fantasy, supernatural fiction, weird fiction

Arthur Machen signature


Early years

Caerleon-Arthur Machen's birthplace
Arthur Machen's birthplace at The Square, High Street, Caerleon

Machen was born Arthur Llewelyn Jones in Caerleon, Monmouthshire. The house of his birth, opposite the Olde Bull Inn in The Square at Caerleon, is adjacent to the Priory Hotel and is today marked with a commemorative blue plaque. The beautiful landscape of Monmouthshire (which he usually referred to by the name of the medieval Welsh kingdom, Gwent), with its associations of Celtic, Roman, and medieval history, made a powerful impression on him, and his love of it is at the heart of many of his works.

The Old Rectory, Llanddewi Fach - - 1706021
The Rectory, Llanddewi Fach—Machen's childhood home

Machen was descended from a long line of clergymen, the family having originated in Carmarthenshire.[2] In 1864, when Machen was two, his father John Edward Jones, became vicar of the parish of Llanddewi Fach with Llandegveth, about five miles north of Caerleon, and Machen was brought up at the rectory there.[3] Jones had adopted his wife's maiden name, Machen, to inherit a legacy, legally becoming "Jones-Machen"; his son was baptised under that name and later used a shortened version of his full name, Arthur Machen, as a pen name.

Local historian and folklorist Fred Hando traces Machen's interest in the occult to a volume of Household Words in his father's rectory library, in which he read, at the age of eight, an entrancing article on alchemy. Hando recounts Machen's other early reading:

He bought De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater at Pontypool Road Railway Station, The Arabian Nights at Hereford Railway Station, and borrowed Don Quixote from Mrs. Gwyn, of Llanfrechfa Rectory. In his father's library he found also the Waverley Novels, a three-volume edition of the Glossary of Gothic Architecture, and an early volume of Tennyson.[3]

At the age of eleven, Machen boarded at Hereford Cathedral School, where he received an excellent classical education. Family poverty ruled out attendance at university, and Machen was sent to London, where he sat exams to attend medical school but failed to get in. Machen, however, showed literary promise, publishing in 1881 a long poem "Eleusinia" on the subject of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Returning to London, he lived in relative poverty, attempting to work as a journalist, as a publisher's clerk, and as a children's tutor while writing in the evening and going on long rambling walks across London.

In 1884 he published his second work, the pastiche The Anatomy of Tobacco, and secured work with the publisher and bookseller George Redway as a cataloguer and magazine editor. This led to further work as a translator from French, translating the Heptameron of Marguerite de Navarre, Le Moyen de Parvenir (Fantastic Tales) of Béroalde de Verville, and the Memoirs of Casanova. Machen's translations in a spirited English style became standard ones for many years.

In 1887, the year his father died,[2] Machen married Amelia (Amy) Hogg, an unconventional music teacher with a passion for the theatre, who had literary friends in London's bohemian circles. Hogg had introduced Machen to the writer and occultist A. E. Waite, who was to become one of Machen's closest friends. Machen also made the acquaintance of other literary figures, such as M. P. Shiel and Edgar Jepson. Soon after his marriage, Machen began to receive a series of legacies from Scottish relatives that allowed him to gradually devote more time to writing.[4]

Literary decadence in the 1890s

Around 1890 Machen began to publish in literary magazines, writing stories influenced by the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, some of which used gothic or fantastic themes. This led to his first major success, The Great God Pan. It was published in 1894 by John Lane in the noted Keynotes Series, which was part of the growing aesthetic movement of the time. Machen's story was widely denounced for its sexual and horrific content and consequently sold well, going into a second edition.

Machen next produced The Three Impostors, a novel composed of a number of interwoven tales, in 1895. The novel and the stories within it were eventually to be regarded as among Machen's best works. However, following the scandal surrounding Oscar Wilde later that year, Machen's association with works of decadent horror made it difficult for him to find a publisher for new works. Thus, though he would write some of his greatest works over the next few years, some were published much later. These included The Hill of Dreams, Hieroglyphics, A Fragment of Life, the story "The White People", and the stories which make up Ornaments in Jade.[4][5]

Tragedy and acting: 1899–1910

In 1899, Machen's wife Amy died of cancer after a long period of illness. This had a devastating effect on Machen. He only gradually recovered from his loss over the next year, partially through his close friendship with A. E. Waite. It was through Waite's influence that Machen joined at this time the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, though Machen's interest in the organization was not lasting or very deep.[6]

House of Souls 1906
The House of Souls (London: Grant Richards, 1906), with cover designs by Sidney Sime

Machen's recovery was further helped by his sudden change of career, becoming an actor in 1901 and a member of Frank Benson's company of travelling players, a profession which took him round the country.

This led in 1903 to a second marriage, to Dorothie Purefoy Hudleston, which brought Machen much happiness. Machen managed to find a publisher in 1902 for his earlier written work Hieroglyphics, an analysis of the nature of literature, which concluded that true literature must convey "ecstasy". In 1906 Machen's literary career began once more to flourish as the book The House of Souls collected his most notable works of the nineties and brought them to a new audience. He also published a satirical work, Dr Stiggins: His Views and Principles, generally considered one of his weakest works.[7]

Machen also was at this time investigating Celtic Christianity, the Holy Grail and King Arthur. Publishing his views in Lord Alfred Douglas's The Academy, for which he wrote regularly, Machen concluded that the legends of the Grail actually were based on dim recollections of the rites of the Celtic Church. These ideas also featured strongly in the novel The Secret Glory which he wrote at this time, marking the first use in fiction of the idea of the Grail's surviving into modern times in some form, an idea much utilised ever since, as by Charles Williams (War in Heaven), Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code) and George Lucas (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). In 1907, The Hill of Dreams, generally considered Machen's masterpiece, was finally published, though it was not recognized much at the time.[4]

The next few years saw Machen continue with acting in various companies and with journalistic work, but he was finding it increasingly hard to earn a living and his legacies were long exhausted. Machen was also attending literary gatherings such as the New Bohemians and the Square Club.[8]

Journalism and the Great War: 1910–1921

Finally Machen accepted a full-time journalist's job at Alfred Harmsworth's Evening News in 1910. In February 1912 his son Hilary was born, followed by a daughter Janet in 1917. The coming of war in 1914 saw Machen return to public prominence for the first time in twenty years due to the publication of "The Bowmen" and the subsequent publicity surrounding the "Angels of Mons" episode. He published a series of stories capitalizing on this success, most of which were morale-boosting propaganda, but the most notable, "The Great Return" (1915) and the novella The Terror (1917), were more accomplished. He also published a series of autobiographical articles during the war, later reprinted in book form as Far Off Things. During the war years Machen also met and championed the work of a fellow Welshman, Caradoc Evans.[4]

In general, though, Machen thoroughly disliked work at the newspaper, and it was only the need to earn money for his family which kept him at it. The money came in useful, allowing him to move in 1919 to a bigger house with a garden, in St John's Wood, which became a noted location for literary gatherings attended by friends such as the painter Augustus John, D. B. Wyndham Lewis, and Jerome K. Jerome. Machen's dismissal from the Evening News in 1921 came as a relief in one sense, though it caused financial problems. Machen, however, was recognized as a great Fleet Street character by his contemporaries, and he remained in demand as an essay writer for much of the twenties.

The Machen boom of the 1920s

Secret Glory 1922
Cover of the U.S. edition of The Secret Glory (New York: Knopf, 1922), one of the series of Machen's works published by Alfred A. Knopf in the 1920s

The year 1922 saw a revival in Machen's literary fortunes. The Secret Glory, considered by some to be Machen's final masterpiece,[9] was finally published, as was his autobiography Far Off Things, and new editions of Machen's Casanova, The House of Souls and The Hill of Dreams all came out. Machen's works had now found a new audience and publishers in America, and a series of requests for republications of books started to come in. Vincent Starrett, James Branch Cabell, and Carl Van Vechten were American Machen devotees who helped in this process.[4]

Another sign of his rising fortunes was the publication in 1923 of a collected edition of his works (the "Caerleon Edition") and a bibliography. That year also saw the publication of a recently completed second volume of autobiography, Things Near and Far—the third and final volume, The London Adventure, being published in 1924. Machen's earlier works suddenly started becoming much-sought-after collectors' items at this time, a position they have held ever since. In 1924 he issued a collection of bad reviews of his own work, with very little commentary, under the title Precious Balms. In this period of prosperity Machen's home saw many visitors and social gatherings, and Machen made new friends, such as Oliver Stonor.

Final years: 1926–1947

By 1926 the boom in republication was mostly over, and Machen's income dropped. He continued republishing earlier works in collected editions, as well as writing essays and articles for various magazines and newspapers and contributing forewords and introductions to both his own works and those of other writers—such as the Monmouthshire historian Fred Hando's The Pleasant Land of Gwent (1944)—but produced little new fiction. In 1927, he became a manuscript reader for the publisher Ernest Benn, which brought in a much-needed regular income until 1933.

In 1929, Machen and his family moved away from London to Amersham in Buckinghamshire, but they still faced financial hardship. He received some recognition for his literary work when he received a Civil List pension of ₤100 per annum in 1932, but the loss of work from Benn's a year later made things difficult once more. A few more collections of Machen's shorter works were published in the thirties, partially as a result of the championing of Machen by John Gawsworth, who also began work on a biography of Machen that was only published in 2005 thanks to the Friends of Arthur Machen.[4]

Machen's financial difficulties were only finally ended by the literary appeal launched in 1943 for his eightieth birthday. The initial names on the appeal show the general recognition of Machen's stature as a distinguished man of letters, as they included Max Beerbohm, T. S. Eliot, Bernard Shaw, Walter de la Mare, Algernon Blackwood, and John Masefield. The success of the appeal allowed Machen to live the last few years of his life, until 1947, in relative comfort.

Philosophy and religion

From the beginning of his literary career, Machen espoused a mystical belief that the humdrum ordinary world hid a more mysterious and strange world beyond. His gothic and decadent works of the 1890s concluded that the lifting of this veil could lead to madness, sex, or death, and usually a combination of all three. Machen's later works became somewhat less obviously full of gothic trappings, but for him investigations into mysteries invariably resulted in life-changing transformation and sacrifice. Machen loved the medieval world view because he felt it manifested deep spirituality alongside a rambunctious earthiness.

Machen was a great enthusiast for literature that expressed the "rapture, beauty, adoration, wonder, awe, mystery, sense of the unknown, desire for the unknown" that he summed up in the word ecstasy.[10] His main passions were for writers and writing he felt achieved this, an idiosyncratic list which included the Mabinogion and other medieval romances, François Rabelais, Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, Thomas de Quincey, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Those writers who failed to achieve this, or far worse did not even attempt it, received short shrift from Machen.

Machen's strong opposition to a materialistic viewpoint is obvious in many of his works, marking him as part of neo-romanticism. He was deeply suspicious of science, materialism, commerce, and Puritanism, all of which were anathema to Machen's conservative, bohemian, mystical, and ritualistic temperament. Machen's virulent satirical streak against things he disliked has been regarded as a weakness in his work, and rather dating, especially when it comes to the fore in works such as Dr Stiggins. Similarly, some of his propagandistic First World War stories also have little appeal to a modern audience.

Machen, brought up as the son of a Church of England clergyman, always held Christian beliefs, though accompanied by a fascination with sensual mysticism; his interests in paganism and the occult were especially prominent in his earliest works. Machen was well read on such matters as alchemy, the kabbalah, and Hermeticism, and these occult interests formed part of his close friendship with A. E. Waite. Machen, however, was always very down to earth, requiring substantial proof that a supernatural event had occurred, and was thus highly sceptical of Spiritualism. Unlike many of his contemporaries, such as Oscar Wilde and Alfred Douglas, his disapproval of the Reformation and his admiration for the medieval world and its Roman Catholic ritualism did not fully tempt him away from Anglicanism—though he never fitted comfortably into the Victorian Anglo-Catholic world.

The death of his first wife led him to a spiritual crossroads, and he experienced a series of mystical events. After his experimentation with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the orthodox ritual of the Church became ever more important to him, gradually defining his position as a High Church Anglican who was able to incorporate elements from his own mystical experiences, Celtic Christianity, and readings in literature and legend into his thinking.

Legacy and influence

Machen's literary significance is substantial; his stories have been translated into many languages and reprinted in short story anthologies countless times. In the sixties, a paperback reprint in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series brought him to the notice of a new generation. More recently, the small press has continued to keep Machen's work in print. In 2010, to mark the 150 years since Machen’s birth, two volumes of Machen's work were republished in the prestigious Library of Wales series.[11]

Literary critics such as Wesley D. Sweetser and S. T. Joshi see Machen's works as a significant part of the late Victorian revival of the gothic novel and the decadent movement of the 1890s, bearing direct comparison to the themes found in contemporary works like Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. At the time authors like Wilde, William Butler Yeats, and Arthur Conan Doyle were all admirers of Machen's works. He is also usually noted in the better studies of Anglo-Welsh literature. The French writer Paul-Jean Toulet translated Machen's The Great God Pan into French and visited Machen in London. Charles Williams was also a devotee of Machen's work, which inspired Williams' own fiction.[12]

Historian of fantastic literature Brian Stableford has suggested that Machen "was the first writer of authentically modern horror stories, and his best works must still be reckoned among the finest products of the genre".[13]

Genre fiction

Machen's popularity in 1920s America has been noted, and his work was an influence on the development of the pulp horror found in magazines like Weird Tales and on such notable fantasy writers as James Branch Cabell, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard,[14] Frank Belknap Long (who wrote a tribute to Machen in verse, "On Reading Arthur Machen"),[15] Donald Wandrei,[16] David Lindsay[13] and E. Charles Vivian.[17]

His significance was recognized by H. P. Lovecraft, who in his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature" named Machen as one of the four "modern masters" of supernatural horror (with Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, and M. R. James). Machen's influence on Lovecraft's own work was substantial. Lovecraft's reading of Machen in the early 1920s led him away from his earlier Dunsanian writing towards the development of what became the Cthulhu Mythos. Machen's use of a contemporary Welsh or London background in which sinister ancient horrors lurk and are capable of interbreeding with modern people obviously helped inspire Lovecraft's similar use of a New England background. Machen's story "The White People" includes strange references to curious unknown rites and beings, an idea Lovecraft uses frequently in the mythos.

Lovecraft pays tribute to the influence by directly incorporating some of Machen's creations and references, such as Nodens and Aklo, into his Cthulhu Mythos and using similar plotlines, most notably seen by a comparison of "The Dunwich Horror" to The Great God Pan and of "The Whisperer in Darkness" to "The Novel of the Black Seal". Other Lovecraft tales with a debt or reference to Machen include "The Call of Cthulhu", "The Festival", "Cool Air", "The Descendant", and "The Colour Out of Space".

His intense, atmospheric stories of horror and the supernatural have been read and enjoyed by many modern horror and fantasy writers, influencing directly Peter Straub, Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Karl Edward Wagner,[18] "Sarban" (John William Wall),[19] Joanna Russ,[20] Graham Joyce, Simon Clark, Tim Lebbon, and T. E. D. Klein, to name but a few. Klein's novel The Ceremonies was partly based on Machen's "The White People", and Straub's novel Ghost Story was influenced by The Great God Pan.[21]

Wider literary influence

Machen's influence is not limited to genre fiction, however. Jorge Luis Borges recognized Machen as a great writer, and through him Machen has had an influence on magic realism. He was also a major influence on Paul Bowles and Javier Marías. He was one of the most significant figures in the life of the Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman, who attributed to Machen his conversion to High Church Anglicanism, an important part of his philosophy and poetry. Sylvia Townsend Warner (a niece of Machen's second wife, Purefoy) admired Machen and was influenced by him,[21] as is his great-granddaughter, the contemporary artist Tessa Farmer.[22]

Machen was also a pioneer in psychogeography, due to his interest in the interconnection between landscape and the mind. His strange wanderings in Wales and London recorded in his beautiful prose make him of great interest to writers on this subject, especially those focusing on London, such as Iain Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd. Alan Moore wrote an exploration of Machen's mystical experiences in his work Snakes and Ladders. Aleister Crowley loved Machen's works, feeling they contained "Magickal" truth, and put them on the reading list for his students, though Machen, who never met him, detested Crowley. Other occultists, such as Kenneth Grant, also find Machen an inspiration. Far closer to Machen's personal mystical world view was his effect on his friend Evelyn Underhill, who reflected some of Machen's thinking in her highly influential book Mysticism.

One chapter of the French best-seller The Morning of the Magicians, by L. Pauwels and J. Berger (1960), deals extensively with Machen's thought and works. Machen's approach to reality is described as an example of the "fantastic realism" which the book is dedicated to.

Other fields

In music, the composer John Ireland found Machen's works to be a life-changing experience that directly influenced much of his composition. Mark E. Smith of The Fall also found Machen an inspiration. Likewise, Current 93 have drawn on the mystical and occult leanings of Machen, with songs such as "The Inmost Light", which shares its title with Machen's story. Some artists on the Ghost Box Music label like Belbury Poly and The Focus Group draw heavily on Machen. It is an interest also shared by film directors like Guillermo del Toro and Richard Stanley. Other notable figures with an enthusiasm for Machen have included Brocard Sewell, Barry Humphries, Stewart Lee and Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.[21]

Literary societies

Machen plauque
Blue plaque installed on Machen's birthplace in November 1997,[23] under the auspices of the UK Arthur Machen Society

An Arthur Machen Society was established in 1948 in the United States and survived until the 1960s. It was followed by the Arthur Machen Society based in the UK, in 1986, which in turn was replaced by the current literary society, The Friends of Arthur Machen.[24]

The Friends of Arthur Machen (FoAM) is a non-profit international literary society founded in 1998 dedicated to supporting interest in Arthur Machen and his work, and to aid research. It publishes two journals: Faunus, which reprints rare Machen articles and criticism of his work, and Machenalia. It fosters interest not only in Machen but in events in which he played a key part, such as the Angels of Mons affair, and organises psychogeographic excursions.

Prominent members include Javier Marías, Stewart Lee and R.B. Russell of Tartarus Press. The society was nominated for a World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional in 2006.

Selected works

In approximate order of composition, with date of publication:
  • The Chronicle of Clemendy (1888) — fantasy tales within a frame story of a rural Welsh drinking fraternity with mystical roots.
  • The Great God Pan (written 1890–1894; published 1894) — short horror novel. First published together with "The Inmost Light" as Volume V in John Lane's Keynotes Series.
  • "The Inmost Light" (1894) — short horror story. A scientist imprisons his wife's soul in a shining jewel, letting something else into her untenanted body, but the jewel is stolen.
  • "The Shining Pyramid" (1895) — short horror story. Strange arrangements of stones appear at the edge of a young man's property. He and a friend attempt to decipher their meaning before it is too late.
  • The Three Impostors (1895) — a horror novel incorporating several short stories, including "The Novel of the White Powder" and "The Novel of the Black Seal", which have often been anthologised separately. Centers on the search for a man with spectacles.
    • "The Novel of the Black Seal" — a precursor of H. P. Lovecraft in its subject matter—the protagonist gradually uncovers the secrets of a hidden pre- and non-human race hiding in the Welsh hills, and the true nature of a hybrid, idiot child fathered by one of them.
    • "The Novel of the White Powder" — a man's behaviour takes a strange turn after he starts taking a new prescription. His sister doesn't know if this is a good thing or a bad one.
  • "The Red Hand" (1895) — a short detective/horror story featuring the main characters from The Three Impostors. It focuses on a murder performed with an ancient stone axe.
  • The Hill of Dreams (written 1895–1897; published 1907) — a novel delineating the dark and mystical spiralling madness, awe, horror and ecstasy of an artist. Generally considered Machen's masterpiece.
  • Ornaments in Jade (written 1897; published 1924) — prose poems, some of which hint at dark pagan powers.
  • "The White People" (written 1899; published 1904) — short horror story. Presented as a young girl's diary, detailing her increasingly deep delvings into witchcraft. Often described as one of the greatest of all horror short stories.
  • Hieroglyphics: A Note upon Ecstasy in Literature (written 1899; published 1902) — a literary tract detailing Machen's philosophy of literature and its capacity for "ecstasy".
  • A Fragment of Life (written 1899–1904; published 1904) — short novel. A young couple repudiate the banalities of material life in favour of the spiritual.
  • The House of the Hidden Light (Written in 1904 with Arthur Edward Waite. Only 3 copies were published. Reprinted in an edition of 350 copies by Tartarus Press, 2003) — a book of coded and mystical correspondence.
  • The Secret Glory (written 1899–1908; published 1922) — novel. A public-school boy becomes fascinated by tales of the Holy Grail and escapes from his repressive school in search of a deeper meaning to life.
  • "The Bowmen" (1914) — in this story, written and published during World War I, the ghosts of archers from the battle of Agincourt, led by Saint George, come to the aid of British troops. This is cited as the origin of the Angels of Mons legend.
  • The Great Return (1915) — short story. The Holy Grail returns to a Welsh village.
  • The Terror (1917) — short novel. Rural supernatural horror set in wartime Britain, where a series of unexplained murders occur with no sign of who or what is responsible.
  • Far Off Things (1922) — first volume of autobiography.
  • Things Near and Far (1923) — second volume of autobiography.
  • "Out of the Earth" (1923) — a short horror story regarding the malefic brutality of the mythical 'Little People', who are emulating World War I.
  • The London Adventure (1924) — third and final volume of autobiography.[25]
  • Dog and Duck (1924) – essays.
  • The Glorious Mystery (1924) — essays and vignettes.
  • The Canning Wonder (1925) — non-fiction study of the eighteenth-century mystery of the disappearance of Elizabeth Canning. Machen concludes that Canning was lying about some or all of her exploits.
  • Dreads and Drolls (1926) — essays (expanded edition, Tartarus Press: 2007).
  • Notes and Queries (1926) — essays.
  • Tom O'Bedlam and His Song (1930) - essays.
  • "Opening the Door" (1931) — short story. Tale of a man's mysterious transcendence into some outer faery realm.
  • The Green Round (1933) — novel. A man is haunted by a dwarf after visiting the "green round" on a beach.
  • "N" (1934) — Short story. An encounter in London of a hidden fairyland.
  • The Children of the Pool (1936) — short story collection including the late period horror stories 'The Bright Boy', 'Change' and 'Out of the Picture'.
  • "Ritual" (1937) — a short horror story about a dark ritual performed by children of some hidden London district.
  • Bridles and Spurs (1951) — essays.

See also

  • P vip.svg Biography portal


  1. ^ Stephen King (4 September 2008). "Self-Interview". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Arthur Machen". Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b Hando, F.J., (1944) The Pleasant Land of Gwent – Chapter Nine, Arthur Machen, R. H. Johns, Newport.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Biography at the Friends of Arthur Machen website Archived 20 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ E. F. Bleiler. "Arthur Machen" in: Bleiler, E. F., ed. Supernatural Fiction Writers. New York: Scribner's, 1985. ISBN 0-684-17808-7 (pp. 351–3).
  6. ^ Leigh Blackmore (1985). "Hermetic Horrors: Weird Fiction Writers and the Golden Dawn". Shadowplay. Archived from the original on 9 November 2009. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  7. ^ "Dr Stiggins was not read in his day and is unreadable in ours" S.T. Joshi, The Weird Tale (University of Texas Press 1990), p.17
  8. ^ Simkin, John. "Arthur Machen". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  9. ^ Machen, Arthur (29 October 2004). "Pan's people". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  10. ^ Arthur Machen, Hieroglyphics (London: Grant Richards, 1902), p. 11.
  11. ^ "Tracing the life of Caerleon mystic, Arthur Machen". Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  12. ^ Glen Cavaliero, Charles Williams: Poet of Theology (London, Macmillan, 1983) p. 55.
  13. ^ a b "Machen, Arthur (Llewellyn)", by Brian Stableford in David Pringle (ed), St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers. London : St. James Press, 1998, ISBN 1558622063 (pp. 382–84).
  14. ^ Rusty Burke notes that Howard's early story "The Little People" is "clearly influenced by Arthur Machen's 'The Shining Pyramid'" (Rusty Burke, "Notes on Miscellanea" in Robert E. Howard, Bran Mak Morn: The Last King . New York: Del Rey/Ballantine, p. 193. ISBN 978-0-345-46154-4).
  15. ^ Long's poem is republished in Lovecraft's Supernatural Horror in Literature. See The Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature, ed. S. T. Joshi (Hippocampus Press, 2000), p. 62.
  16. ^ Don Herron, "Collecting Donald Wandrei Archived 7 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine", Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine, Oct. 1999: "Within a decade Wandrei began to write appreciations of his favorite writers. His article 'Arthur Machen and The Hill of Dreams' appeared in the Minnesota Quarterly in spring 1926, and led to an exchange of letters with the Welsh mystic."
  17. ^ "Vivian, E(velyn) C(harles)", by Jack Adrian in the St. James Guide To Fantasy Writers, edited by David Pringle. St. James Press, 1996, pp. 577–80 ISBN 1-55862-205-5
  18. ^ Benjamin Szumskyj, Black Prometheus: A Critical Study of Karl Edward Wagner, Gothic Press, 2007 (p. 21)
  19. ^ Peter Nicholls,"Sarban", in Supernatural Fiction Writers edited by E. F. Bleiler. Scribner's,New York, 1985. (pp. 667–74)
  20. ^ Joanna Russ, The Country You Have Never Seen:Essays and Reviews; ISBN 0853238693 (p. 58)
  21. ^ a b c Gwilym Games (ed), Machenology: Tributes to the Master of Mysteries, 2007.
  22. ^ "In Conversation With Tessa Farmer" (PDF). Antennae. 1 (3): 16–24. 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 February 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2007.
  23. ^ Wisker, Gina (2005). Horror Fiction: An Introduction. New York & London: Continuum. p. 74. ISBN 0-8264-1561-X. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  24. ^ "Friends of Arthur Machen Website homepage: Horror Fantastic and Supernatural Fiction". Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  25. ^ "Arthur Machen and The London Adventure". 17 March 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2018.

Further reading

  • Doyle, Michael. "The Laureate of Strange", Rue Morgue #131 (March 2013).
  • Fox, Paul. "Eureka in Yellow: The Art of Detection in Arthur Machen's Keynote Mysteries." CLUES: A Journal of Detection 25.1 (Fall 2006): 58–69.
  • Games, Gwilym (ed). Machenology: Tributes to the Master of Mysteries, 2007. Offers a series of tribute essays from those who have admired his work.
  • Gawsworth, John. The Life of Arthur Machen. [Leyburn]: Friends of Arthur Machen & Tartarus Press, 2005.
  • Goho, James. "Suffering and Evil in the Short Fiction of Arthur Machen". Journeys into Darkness: Critical Essays on Gothic Horror. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. ISBN 9781442231450
  • Joshi, S. T. The Weird Tale. Austin: U of Texas P, 1990.
  • Reynolds, Aidan; Charlton, William. Arthur Machen. London: John Baker, 1963. Paperback reprint, Oxford: Caermaen Books, 1988.
  • Simons, John. "Horror in the 1890s: The Case of Arthur Machen". Bloom, Clive, ed. Creepers: British Horror and Fantasy in the Twentieth Century. London: Pluto Press, 1993. ISBN 9780585359502
  • Speth, Lee. "Cavalier Treatment: More About Arthur Machen". Mythlore 8.1 (Spring 1981): 41–42.
  • Sweetser, Wesley D. Arthur Machen. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1964.
  • Tearle, Oliver. Bewilderments of Vision: Hallucination and Literature, 1880–1914. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-8240-0059-2
  • Valentine, Mark. Arthur Machen. Bridgend: Seren Books, 1995.
  • Wagenknecht, Edward. "Arthur Machen". Seven Masters of Supernatural Fiction. New York: Greenwood, 1991. ISBN 0313279608

External links


Aklo is the name of a fictional language that has been used by many authors from its first reference in 1899. The language is said to have mystical powers.Aklo was first mentioned by Arthur Machen in his 1899 story "The White People". Aklo was mentioned but not described in detail by Machen, being noted in passing by the story's narrator as part of a secretive game or ritual.

H. P. Lovecraft admired the Machen story, and used Aklo in his Cthulhu Mythos stories "The Dunwich Horror" and "The Haunter of the Dark". The authors who have used Aklo have played into the fiction that the language has magical powers, and so have not included much detail to prevent "some careless reader from incant[ing] a spell capable of calling forth evil".In The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, Aklo appears as a language used in Black Masses and by the Illuminati.

Alan Moore later used Aklo in his Lovecraft tribute short story and 2003 comic The Courtyard, in his 2010 comic Neonomicon and again in Providence. In his adaptation, Aklo is not just an alien language, but a key that opens doors inside the human mind which is "connected to Moore's general view on actual magic and the role of words in modifying a human's perception of reality."The Pathfinder RPG, published by Paizo, uses Aklo as the language of several subterranean, otherworldly, or otherwise Lovecraftian species in the game's universe, such as aboleths and gibbering mouthers.

Angels of Mons

The Angels of Mons is a popular legend about a group of angels who supposedly protected members of the British Army in the Battle of Mons at the outset of the First World War.

Charles Purdom

Charles Benjamin Purdom, usually credited as C. B. Purdom (15 Oct 1883 – 8 July 1965), was a British author, drama critic, town planner, and economist. He was one of the pioneers and founders of the first garden cities, Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, the latter of which he was appointed Finance Director between 1919–1928. He was then made Honorary Secretary, then Treasurer of the International Federation for Housing and Planning (1931–1935). He was also founder of the Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City Theatre Society, now the Welwyn Drama Club. He won the Howard Walden cup at the Welwyn Garden City Drama Festival and the David Belasco cup in New-York in 1927. He was an author of many books on city development, on Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw plays, Harley Granville-Barker, and on producing plays. He was editor of an English literary periodical called Everyman, covering books, drama, music and travel and featured articles by renowned authors such as Ivor Brown, Arthur Machen, G. K. Chesterton, A. E. Coppard, and Bertrand Russell. He was General Secretary of British Equity (1939–1940) and joint secretary of the London Theatre Council. He was also the earliest biographer of Meher Baba. He was father of the actor Edmund Purdom. He died in Welwyn Garden City in 1965.

Histoire de ma vie

Histoire de ma vie (Story of My Life) is both the memoir and autobiography of Giacomo Casanova, a famous 18th-century Italian adventurer. A previous, bowdlerized version was originally known in English as The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova (from the French Mémoires de Jacques Casanova) until the original version was published in 1960.

From 1838 to 1960, all the editions of the memoirs were derived from the bowdlerized editions produced in German and French in the early nineteenth century. Arthur Machen used one of these inaccurate versions for his English translation published in 1894 which remained the standard English edition for many years.

Although Casanova was Venetian (born April 2, 1725, in Venice, died June 4, 1798, in Dux, Bohemia, now Duchcov, Czech Republic), the book is written in French, which was the dominant language in the upper class at the time. The book covers Casanova's life only through 1774, although the full title of the book is Histoire de ma vie jusqu'à l'an 1797 (History of my Life until the year 1797).

On February 18, 2010, the National Library of France purchased the 3,700-page manuscript of Histoire de ma vie for approximately €7 million (£5,750,000). The manuscript is believed to have been given to Casanova's nephew, Carlo Angiolini, in 1798. The manuscript is believed to contain pages not previously read or published. Following this acquisition, a new edition of the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, based on the manuscript, was published from 2013 to 2015.

List of fantasy novels (A–H)

This page lists notable fantasy novels (and novel series). The books appear in alphabetical order by title (beginning with A to H) (ignoring "A", "An", and "The"); series are alphabetical by author-designated name or, if there is no such, some reasonable designation. Science-fiction novels and short-story collections are not included here.

List of speculative poets

This is a list of speculative poets. People on this list should have articles of their own, and should meet the Wikipedia notability guidelines for their poetry. Please place names on the list only if there is a real and existing article on the poet.

Mark Valentine

Mark Valentine is an English editor and writer of ghost or supernatural stories, and an essayist on book-collecting.

Nodens (Cthulhu Mythos)

Nodens (Lord of the Great Abyss or Nuada of the Silver Hand) is a fictional character in the Cthulhu Mythos. Based on the Celtic deity, Nodens, he is the creation of H. P. Lovecraft and first appeared in his short story "The Strange High House in the Mist" (1926).

Roger Dobson

Roger Alan Dobson (1954–2013) was a British author, journalist, editor and literary researcher.

Dobson wrote the Arthur Machen entry in the Dictionary of National Biography. He also edited John Gawsworth's biography of Machen and co-edited Machen's Selected Letters (with Godfrey Brangham and R. A. Gilbert, 1988). He was a regular contributor to Antiquarian Book Monthly Review, Faunus (the journal of the Friends of Arthur Machen), All Hallows (the journal of the Ghost Story Society), Wormwood and The Doppelganger Broadsheet.

S. T. Joshi

Sunand Tryambak Joshi (born 22 June 1958), known as S. T. Joshi, is an American literary critic, novelist, and a leading figure in the study of H. P. Lovecraft and other authors of weird and fantastic fiction. Besides having written what critics such as Harold Bloom and Joyce Carol Oates consider to be the definitive biography of Lovecraft, I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft (Hippocampus Press, 2 vols., 2010 [originally published in one volume as H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, 1996]), Joshi has prepared (with David E. Schultz) several annotated editions of works by Ambrose Bierce. He has also written on crime novelist John Dickson Carr and on Lord Dunsany, Algernon Blackwood and M. R. James, and has edited collections of their works, as well as collections of the best work of numerous other weird writers.

He has compiled bibliographies of Lovecraft, Bierce, Dunsany, Ramsey Campbell, Ray Bradbury and Clark Ashton Smith. He has been general editor of the Horror Classics series for Dover Publications.

Joshi is known for his acerbic style, and has been described by editor Ellen Datlow as 'the nastiest reviewer in the field'. Most recently he has turned his attention to collecting and editing the works of H. L. Mencken. He currently resides in Seattle, Washington.

Supernatural Horror in Literature

"Supernatural Horror in Literature" is a long essay by American writer H. P. Lovecraft, surveying the topic of horror fiction. It was written between November 1925 and May 1927 and revised during 1933–1934. It was first published in 1927 in the one-issue magazine The Recluse. More recently, it was included in the collection Dagon and Other Macabre Tales (1965).

Lovecraft examines the beginnings of weird fiction in the gothic novel (relying greatly on Edith Birkhead's 1921 survey The Tale of Terror) and traces its development through such writers as Ambrose Bierce, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe (who merits his own chapter). Lovecraft names as the four "modern masters" of horror: Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, M. R. James, and Arthur Machen.

An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia terms the work "HPL's most significant literary essay and one of the finest historical analyses of horror literature." Upon reading the essay, M. R. James proclaimed Lovecraft's style "most offensive". However,

Edmund Wilson, who was not an admirer of Lovecraft's fiction, praised the essay as a "really able piece of

work...he had read comprehensively in this field—he was strong on the Gothic novelists—and

writes about it with much intelligence". David G. Hartwell has called "Supernatural Horror in Literature", "the most important essay on horror literature".

The Great God Pan

The Great God Pan is a horror and fantasy novella by Welsh writer Arthur Machen. Machen was inspired to write The Great God Pan by his experiences at the ruins of a pagan temple in Wales. What would become the first chapter of the novella was published in the magazine The Whirlwind in 1890. Machen later extended The Great God Pan and it was published as a book alongside another story, "The Inmost Light", in 1894. The novella begins with an experiment to allow a woman named Mary to see the supernatural world. This is followed by an account of a series of mysterious happenings and deaths over many years surrounding a woman named Helen Vaughan. At the end, the heroes confront Helen and force her to kill herself. She undergoes a series of supernatural transformations before dying and she is revealed to be the child of Mary and the god Pan.

On publication, it was widely denounced by the press as degenerate and horrific because of its implied sexual content, and the novella hurt Machen's reputation as an author. Beginning in the 1920s, Machen's work was critically re-evaluated and The Great God Pan has since garnered a reputation as a classic of horror. Literary critics have noted the influence of other nineteenth-century authors on The Great God Pan and offered differing opinions on whether or not it can be considered an example of Gothic fiction or science fiction. The novella has influenced the work of horror writers such as Bram Stoker, H. P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King, and has been adapted for the stage twice.

The Green Round

The Green Round is a horror novel by Welsh author Arthur Machen. It was originally published by Ernest Benn Limited in 1933. The first U.S. edition was published by Arkham House in 1968 in an edition of 2,058 copies. It was the only book by Machen to be published by Arkham House.

Critic S.T. Joshi has referred to the novel as "a drearily verbose and unfocussed rehashing of old themes".According to the Friends of Arthur Machen website, "Machen's final full-length work of fiction is judged a failure by some. However, in this work, Machen's earlier exploration of the fantastic moves outward to embrace the absurd, of Kafka, Camus and Sartre. Not recommended for devotees of gothic and horror, but of potential fascination for the rest of us." [1]

The Hill of Dreams

The Hill of Dreams is a semi-autobiographical novel by the Welsh writer Arthur Machen.

The Three Impostors

The Three Impostors; or, The Transmutations is an episodic horror novel by British writer Arthur Machen, first published in 1895 in The Bodley Head's Keynote Series. It was revived in paperback by Ballantine Books as the forty-eighth volume of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in June 1972.

The White People

"The White People" is a horror short story by Welsh author Arthur Machen. Written in the late 1890s, it was first published in 1904 in Horlick's Magazine, edited by Machen's friend A. E. Waite, then reprinted in Machen's collection The House of Souls (1906).

The story has since been described as an important example of horror fiction, influencing generations of later writers.

We Are All Pan's People

We Are All Pan's People is an album by Julian House, under the pseudonym of The Focus Group. It was released on 26 March 2007 on the Ghost Box Music label. The title and artwork owe a simultaneous debt to the 1970s dance troupe Pan's People and the stories - the novella The Great God Pan specifically - of Arthur Machen; labelmates Eric Zann and Belbury Poly have also acknowledged a debt to the author.

Wesley D. Sweetser

Dr Wesley Duaine Sweetser (1919–2006) was an English critic.

Born in National City, California, United States, he attended the University of Colorado where he gained a Ph.D. in 1958 for a thesis on Welsh writer Arthur Machen. He served for a long period in the United States Air Force reaching the rank of Captain.

This enthusiasm led him to publish a valuable Machen biography and bibliography with Adrian Goldstone based on his earlier thesis. He played an important part in supporting the 1960s revival in Machen’s works.

Wilfred Rowland Childe

Wilfred Rowland Childe (1890–1952) was a British author and poet.Childe was educated at Harrow School and Magdalen College, Oxford. He edited Oxford Poetry in 1916 and 1917. He became a Roman Catholic convert in 1916. He is chiefly remembered for Dream English. A Fantastical Romance (1917) which was and still is something of a minor cult book. He was admired by Arthur Machen and later by the poet Robin Skelton. His Selected Poems was published in 1936. He associated with the Sitwells, but was no modernist.

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