Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Arthur Machen, One of the Great Masters
This post is due to my writing partnership with fellow author, Ben Eads, to try to enlighten newbie writers and readers to great authors' works.
Arthur Machen (1863-1947) is best known for his novel, The Great God Pan, and is also noted as creating the legend of the Angels of Mons. The Great God Pan has been called "Maybe the best [horror story] in the English Language" by Stephen King. It was the influence for King's short story, "N," one of most frightening tales in the amazing new collection, Just After Sunset.
Arthur was born in the Welsh country of Gwent in Wales. The breathtaking atmosphere, along with the Celtic, Roman and medieval history, influenced his eerie works. Machen's father, the vicar of a church, brought Arthur up in the rectory (no small wonder why he turned to the occult!). Young Arthur attended a cathedral school at eleven but did not attend college, due to his family's poverty. Later, sent to London, he failed the exams to get into medical school. He worked as a children's tutor and a publisher's clerk while he wrote his macabre fiction in the evening.
A member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn along with Algernon Blackwood, Yeats, Aleister Crowley and Machen's friend, A. E. Waite, Machen was also a journalist, essayist and Shakespearean actor. His autobiography is available, beginning with Far Off Things in 1922, the first of three volumes, if you want to get geeky about your Machen research. Along with Algernon Blackwood, M. R. James and Lord Dunsany, H. P. Lovecraft called him one of the four "modern masters" of supernatural horror.
A prolific writer, he wrote many books in his lifetime: Eleusinia (1881); The Chronicle of Cleventy (1888); The Great God Pan and The Inmost Light (1894); The Three Impostors (1895); The House of Souls (1906); The Secret Glory (1907); The Hill of Dreams (1907); The Angels of Mons: The Bowman and Other Legends of the War (1915); The Terror (1916); Strange Roads (1923); The Shining Pyramid (1923); Omaments in Jade (1924); The Glorious Mystery (1924); The Green Round (1933); The Children of the Pool and Other Stories (1936); The Cosy Room (1936); and Tales of Horror and the Supernatural (1948). He wrote too many short stories to even count.
Horror authors of today, take note, and do not fail to be inspired by one of the greatest horror authors of all time!
I owe a debt to Wikipedia for their excellent article on Arthur Machen, as well as this amazing page on Arthur: http://alangullette.com/lit/machen/