Arthur Machen

Arthur Machen | First Editions

1863 - 1947

Arthur Machen (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; indeed, Stephen King has called it "Maybe the best [horror story] in the English language". 

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. 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. 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".

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