Born Arthur Llewellyn Jones on March 3, 1863 in Caerleon-on-Usk, Wales, Arthur Machen was the author of "The Great God Pan" (1894), The Three Imposters (1890) (an episode novel containing "The Novel of the White Powder", "The Novel of the Black Seal," and others), The Hill of Dreams (1907), The Terror (1917) and other supernatural horror. His adopted surname is pronounced mack'n (rhymes with "blacken").
Machen was also an essayist, journalist, Shakespearean actor, occultist (he was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn along with Blackwood, Yeats, Aleister Crowley, and Machen's friend A.E. Waite), and a translator (of Cassanova's Memoirs, Beroalde de Verville's Moyen de Parvenir (Fantastic Tales), and the Heptameron of Marguerite, Queen of Navarre). His autobiography was issued in three volumes beginning with Far Off Things in 1922 (the title is borrowed from Wordsworth).
By the estimate of many, Machen deserves a premier place among the best of his field. Lovecraft counted him foremost of the four "modern masters" of supernatural horror (with Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, and M. R. James): "Of living creators of cosmic fear raised to its most artistic pitch, few if any can hope to equal the versatile Arthur Machen, ... master of an exquisitely lyrical and expressive prose style." Lovecraft ranked Machen's story "The White People" a close second to Blackwood's "The Willows" as the best weird story ever written. On the other hand, Carl van Vechten considered the highly autobiographical Hill of Dreams to be Machen's masterpiece; Machen said he had intended it to be "a Robinson Crusoe of the mind" and "an interior tale of the soul and its emotions." Fantasy connoisseur Lin Carter called Machen "one of the noblest stylistic masters of the English language in our century." And genre historian E. F. Bleiler listed him as "probably the outstanding British writer of fin de siecle supernatural fiction, highly important historically."
Machen died December 15, 1947 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England. To mark the fiftieth anniversary, a plaque honoring Machen was unveiled in November 1997 on the house where the author was born, in the town square of Caerleon-on-Usk. Actions such as this and new editions of his work from Tartarus Press and Hobgoblin Press -- together with the continuance of the Arthur Machen Society -- are welcome signs of new life for the works of the man who has been called "the Apostle of Wonder."
Machen on the Web
Other Web Sites
- The Friends Of Arthur Machen grew out of the British Arthur Machen Society, established in 1986 to promote this premier writer of supernatural horror. They issue the occasional publications Faunus and Machenalia and sponser an irregular "Machenesque" short story contest. An extensive site with bio, discussion of works, links, etc.
From an Andy Warhol Interview with Mick Jagger:
Warhol: 'What are you reading these days?'
Jagger: 'Oh, Arthur Machen ..... none of his things have been filmed ... They would make incredible films. There's one called "The Novel of the White Powder" about this man who goes to a doctor or chemist and receives this white powder which he has to take every day, and he gets stranger and stranger and eventually he ends up as a ball of blackness that just drips through the ceiling horribly one night .... There's a tremendous visual sequence at the end where this one eye comes out of this blackness. It would make a fantastic movie.'
- Eleusinia (1881) poem
- The Anatomy of Tobacco (1884) non-fiction (as " Leolinus Siluriensis" )
- Chronicles of Clemendy (1888) " a volume of tales in the medieval pattern"
- The Great God Pan and The Inmost Light (1894) supernatural stories
- The Three Imposters (1895) episode novel; picaresque romance, terror
- Hieroglyphics (1902) about literature
- Dr. Stiggins (1906) about theology
- The House of Souls (1906) supernatural stories (The White People, The Great God Pan, and The Inmost Light
- The Hill of Dreams (1907) mystical novel (written 1895-97)
- The Bowmen, and Other Legends of the War (1915) short stories
- (includes "The Angel of Mons" )
- The Great Return (1915) the return to Wales of the Holy Grail
- The Terror (1917) novella -- animals revolt against humans
- The Secret Glory (1922) attacked British public education
- Far Off Things (1922) autobiography
- Things Near and Far (1923) autobiography
- Strange Roads (1923) nonfiction
- The London Adventure (1924) autobiography
- Dog and Duck (1924) miscellany
- The Shining Pyramid (1924) supernatural stories
- Ornaments in Jade (1924) short prose pieces bordering on fantasy or horror
- The Canning Wonder (1925) about the Elizabeth Canning case
- Notes and Queries (1926) nonfiction
- Dreads and Drolls (1926) nonfiction
- Translation, Casanova's Memoirs (1930, 12 vol.)
- Children of the Pool (1936) supernatural stories
- The Cosy Room (1936) supernatural stories
- The Green Round (1936) supernatural novel
- Tales of Horror and the Supernatural (1948)
- Eleusinia and Beneath the Barley (Necronomicon Press, 1988) poem and essay
- Arthur Machen by Wesley Sweetser (London: Twayne).
- "A Fragment of Life" (1899), included in The House of Souls (1906)
- Autobiography, in three volumes:
- Far Off Things (1922)
- Things Near and Far (1923)
- The London Adventure (1924)
- Bookman, July 1925
- Bookman (London), March 1932
- Mercure de France, 1/1/38
- Revue Politique et Litteraire, 9/2/27
- Sewanee Review, July 1924
- Arthur Machen by Aidan Reynolds and William
Charlton. (London: The Caermaen Press, 1963, rep. 1988) An essential biography. Available through Tartarus Press.
- Arthur Machen by Mark Valentine (Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan: Seren, 1995). A new look at Machen, updating the Reynolds-Charlton biography and Sweetser study.
- Arthur Machen: A Bibliography by Henry Danielsson (1970)
- A Bibliography of Arthur Machen by Adrian Goldstone and Wesley Sweetser, The University of
Texas (Austin, Texas 1965; revised 1973).
- Machen, Arthur. Far Off Things (Bristol, R.I.: Hobgoblin Press, 1997) reprints the first volume of autobiography
- Machen, Arthur. The House of Souls. (Bristol, R.I.: Hobgoblin Press, 1997) reprints three essential tales
- Machen, Arthur. The Line of Terror and Other Essays (Bristol, R.I.: Hobgoblin Press, 1997) ed. with introduction by S.T. Joshi
- Machen, Arthur. Ornaments in Jade. (Horam, East Sussex: Tartarus Press, 1997), reprint of Alfred Knopf edition of 1924
- Machen, Arthur. Ritual and Other Stories. (Horam, East Sussex: Tartarus Press, 1992; second ed., 1997)
- Machen, Arthur. Rus in Urbe and Others. (Horam, East Sussex: Tartarus Press, 1997)
- Machen, Arthur. Tales of Horror and the Supernatural. (Horam, East Sussex: Tartarus Press, 1997), new edition of the classic, ed. Roger Dobson
- Machen, Arthur. The Three Imposters. (London: Everyman, 1995), with very useful critical notes by Rita Tait of the Arthur Machen Society.
- Machen, Arthur. The White People and Other Stories: The Best Weird Tales of Arthur Machen (Chaosium, 2004).
- Machen, Arthur and Montgomery Evans. Letters of a Literary Friendship, 1923-1947 Edited by Sue Strong Hassler and Donald M. Hassler. (Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 1994)
- Machen, Arthur, et al. A Few Letters from Arthur Machen: Letters to Munson Havens (London: Aylesford Press, 1993).
- Machen, Arthur, et al. The Good Machen: A Centenary Tribute Recalled (London: Aylesford Press, 1993).
For additional information visit:
Arthur Machen Collection at the Libraries of The Claremont Colleges,
Letters by Machen to Paul Jordan Smith (1895–1971).
Vodrey Collection of Arthur Machen (C0240): A Brief Guide at Princeton University Library
William F. Gekle Collection of Arthur Machen (C0649) 1936-1965
A young Machen, photomontage by Andrea Bonazzi
In the Roman amphitheatre at Caerleon, 3/3/1937
First posted: July 27, 1996
Last updated: November 15, 2019
Selected Authors of Supernatural Horror