(1869 - 1951)
English writer of ghost stories and supernatural fiction, of whom Lovecraft wrote: "He is the one absolute and unquestioned master of weird atmosphere." His powerful story "The Willows," which effectively describes another dimension impinging upon our own, was reckoned by Lovecraft to be not only "foremost of all" Blackwood's tales but the best "weird tale" of all time. (Unfortunately, Blackwood, who was familiar with Lovecraft's work, failed to return the compliment. As he told Peter Penzoldt, he found "spiritual terror" missing in his young admirer's writing, something he considered all-important in his own.)
Among his thirty-odd books, Blackwood wrote a series of stories and short novels published as John Silence, Physician Extraordinary (1908), which featured a "psychic detective" who combined the skills of a Sherlock Holmes and a psychic medium. Blackwood also wrote light fantasy and juvenile books.
The son of a preacher, Blackwood had a life-long interest in the supernatural, the occult, and spiritualism, and firmly believed that humans possess latent psychic powers. The autobiography Episodes Before Thirty (1923) tells of his lean years as a journalist in New York. In the late 1940s, Blackwood had a television program on the BBC on which he read . . . ghost stories!
An Egyptian Hornet (short story)A victim of higher space (short story)The Willows (short story)
Starlight, Jelly and Shadows: Mike Ashley interviewed by Andrew Hedgecock. Ashley is a leading authority on Blackwood.Algernon Blackwood, by Henrik Johnsson, at Literary Gothic.
Joshi, S.T. (ed.), Incredible Adventures by Algernon Blackwood, Hippocampus Press, 2004.
Joshi, S.T. (ed.), The Complete John Silence Stories by Algernon Blackwood, Dover, 1998.
First posted: July 27, 1996
Last updated: January 11, 2011
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Alan Gullette, Oakland, California. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org