Welsh writer Arthur Machen (1863–1947) is one of the towering figures in the Golden Age of weird fiction, and his novels and tales have influenced generations of weird writers and remain immensely popular among readers. But much of his work has been difficult to obtain, remaining buried in obscure magazines and newspapers of a century ago or published in expensive limited editions.
This is the first edition of Machen’s fiction to be based on a thorough examination of his manuscripts and early publications. It is also the first edition to arrange Machen’s fiction chronologically by date of writing.
Volume 2: 1896–1910
This second volume of Machen’s collected fiction begins with Machen’s most accomplished novel, The Hill of Dreams (written in 1895–97 and published in 1907), which H. P. Lovecraft called a “memorable epic of the sensitive aesthetic mind.” It features Lucian Taylor, a young man from the country who struggles to become a writer in London. His ruminations on life, love, and authorship are extraordinarily poignant, and at one point he engages in a lengthy dream of being back in ancient Rome, in the town of Isca Silurum, near his birthplace in Wales.
Later in 1897 Machen wrote a series of exquisite prose poems that were later published as Ornaments in Jade (1924). These ten vignettes display Machen’s luminous prose at its most evocative, and they touch upon the possibility of strange and wondrous phenomena concealed behind the outward façade of the mundane world.
Machen’s most accomplished weird tale, “The White People,” is also found here. Its account of a young girl insidiously inculcated in the witch-cult, told entirely from her own perspective as she jots down her thoughts and impressions in a diary, achieves the pinnacle of clutching fear.
A very different work is the short novel A Fragment of Life, telling of how a seemingly ordinary couple rediscover their sense of wonder in the world around them.
The novel The Secret Glory (written around 1907) is a discursive novel that searingly condemns the British school system for destroying the imaginations of its pupils. The entire work—including the final two chapters, first published only in a limited edition in 1992—is included here.