Thursday, March 12, 2015

Happy Birthday Algernon Blackwood

This coming Saturday is Algernon Blackwood's birthday and to celebrate, tomorrow I'll be posting an monster from his classic reality-bending short story The Willows.

Blackwood was born in England but spent a large part of his life in North America. He had an eclectic array of jobs in both the US and Canada including, a journalist for the New York Times, a dairy farmer, a bartender, violin teacher and model.

He was also a Grade A weirdo! In a good way. He was a member of The Ghost Club in London as well as the Hermetic Order Of the Golden Dawn. Not only that but he studied Rosicrucianism,  Buddhism and occultism. 

He was also an avid outdoorsman. This, along with his love of the esoteric, influenced his fiction and helped him produce some of the most beloved weird fiction of all time.

He's probably most notable in horror fiction circles for his stories The Willows and The Wendigo. The latter of which directly influenced August Derleth and his Ithaqua stories. His short story about "werecats" entitled Ancient Sorceries was the inspiration for the classic Val Lewton chiller The Cat People. 

Blackwood's tales tend to be insidious, slow creepers as opposed to the climactic, sanity-cracking crescendos found in other weird fiction. His protagonists have their wits ground down rather than shattered. Isolation, paranoia, wide open spaces and lurking, unnamed menace are the antagonists in my favorite Blackwood stories. You should check out some of his work if you're not already a devotee.

"Less intense than Mr. Machen in delineating the extremes of stark fear, yet infinitely more closely wedded to the idea of an unreal world constantly pressing upon ours, is the inspired and prolific Algernon Blackwood, amidst whose voluminous and uneven work may be found some of the finest spectral literature of this or any age. Of the quality of Mr. Blackwood’s genius there can be no dispute; for no one has even approached the skill, seriousness, and minute fidelity with which he records the overtones of strangeness in ordinary things and experiences, or the preternatural insight with which he builds up detail by detail the complete sensations and perceptions leading from reality into supernormal life or vision."
H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror In Literature


1 comment:

  1. VERY much looking forward to your take on a creation by one of HPL's influences, Even more so to forwarding you some info after today...
    The joey Zone