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Dannie Abse memorial: '1953 Winged Back'

Dannie Abse 1923–2014: A tribute featuring music by Jobina Tinnemans

22 September 1923–28 September 2014

 

Today marks the date of Dannie's Abse's memorial in London, and to celebrate this occasion, as well as the work of the man himself, we are delighted to present a musical interpretation of/accompaniment to Dannie's poem 'Winged Back', chosen to represent the year 1953 in Carol Ann Duffy’s bestselling anthology Jubilee Lines. The song can be listened to by clicking here.
 
1953
 
Dannie Abse
 
Winged Back
 
Strange the potency of a cheap dance tune.
– Noel Coward
 
One such winged me back to a different post-code,
to an England that like a translation
almost was, to my muscular days
that were marvellous being ordinary.
365 days, marvellous;
 
to an England where sweet-rationing ended,
where nature tamely resumed its capture
behind park railings. Few thorns. Fewer thistles;
to Vivat Regina and the linseed willow-sound
of Compton and Edrich winning the Ashes.
 
Elsewhere, Troy always burning. Newspaper stuff.
The recurring decimal of calamity.
Famine. Murder. Pollinating fires.
When they stubbed one out another one flared.
Statesmen lit their cigars from the embers.
 
Jobina Tinnemans is a Pembrokeshire-based contemporary composer, who composes in crossing genres of new classical and electronic music. In 2013 she received a MATA NYC commission, a festival co-founded by Philip Glass. She represented the UK at the World Music Days in Wroclaw, Poland, last year and is a New Voices composer for the British Council. Currently Jobina is working on a Sound And Music commission for the Apartment House ensemble in London. You can hear more of her music at www.jobinatinnemans.com.
 
Dannie Abse was born in Cardiff in 1923 and grew up in the city. After studying at the Welsh National School of Medicine, he moved in 1943 to London where he continued his medical studies at King’s College and Westminster Hospital; his military service was done in the RAF. Qualifying as a doctor in 1950, he worked as a specialist in a chest clinic on the fringes of Soho; he lived in Golders Green, but kept in touch with Wales through his support for Cardiff Football Club and his presidency of the Welsh Academy, the national association of writers, and for many years he had a home at Ogmore-by-sea; he also edited the anthology Twentieth Century Anglo-Welsh Poetry (1997). He published some sixteen books of verse; they include After Every Green Thing (1948), Walking under Water (1952), Tenants of the House (1957), A Small Desperation (1968), Funland (1973),Way Out in the Centre (1981), Ask the Bloody Horse (1986), On the Evening Road(1994), Arcadia: One Mile (1998) and Running Late (2007); many of his poems on Welsh themes are to be found in Welsh Retrospective (1997). He also wrote a number of prose works, mainly autobiographical, which include Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve (1954) and A Poet in the Family (1974). His Collected Poems 1948-88, entitled White Coat Purple Coat, appeared in 1989 and his New and Collected Poems, nearly three hundred in all, in 2003; a small selection was published in the Corgi series as Touch Wood in 2002. At the heart of his work lay a fascination with the foibles of human nature and he reserved his warmest admiration for those who have refused to conform and have suffered as a consequence. As a Jew, albeit secular, he was particularly sensitive to political pressures; a stronger awareness of his Jewish identity came to the fore in his mature work and some of his later poems dealt specifically with the Holocaust. In all his verse there is, in about equal measure, a deep melancholy and a sheer delight in everyday experiences, some of which is based on his experiences as a doctor. His poems have a haunting power, in which there is a place for nostalgia, humour, irony, optimism and a delicious sense of the incongruous and mysterious.

Winners of the M. Wynn Thomas Prize 2015 Announced

Dr Heather Williams (Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth) and Jamie Harris (Aberystwyth University) have been announced as this year’s winners of the prestigious M. Wynn Thomas Prize for outstanding academic work in the field of Welsh Writing in English. Once again, submissions were of a very high quality, and the judging panel (Dr Matthew Jarvis, Aberystwyth University/University of Wales Trinity St David, Dr Aidan Byrne, Wolverhampton University and Dr Alyce von Rothkirch, Swansea University) were hard-pushed to arrive at a decision. The panel felt that the winners’ work showed exceptional scholarship as well as the willingness to explore new territory.
 
Winners receive £150 each and a full set of the Library of Wales titles published by Parthian Books. The prize will be awarded at the annual conference of the Association of Welsh Writing in English, ‘The Country and the City: Rural and Urban Wales’, to be held at Gregynog Hall, Powys, 27-29 March 2015.
 

Book launch for Carwyn as part of Welsh Week at the Brand Exchange

Carwyn: A Personal Memoir by Alun Richards is new in the Library of Wales series. It has been described by The Times "As one of the most readable books on rugby" written by the Pontypridd born writer and dramatist Alun Richards. This new and revised edition is launched at London's Brand Exchange on Friday, March 6th by the writer and publisher Lewis Davies, author of Work, Sex and Rugby and twice winner of Bryncoch RFC second team Player of the Year award. The launch begins at 6pm - 9pm and will be followed by an art exhibition.

Welsh Week is a week of Welsh art, food, music and culture to celebrate St David’s Day, organised by Brand Exchange and The Gallery Yr Oriel Newport Pembs. Entry to the gallery and events is free to invited guests. To reserve your place, please email enquiries@brandexchange specifying which event(s) you would like to attend or call 0207 389 9410.

Carwyn James treated rugby football as if it was an art form and aesthetics part of the coaching manual. This son of a miner, from Cefneithin in the Gwendraeth Valley, was a cultivated literary scholar, an accomplished linguist, a teacher, and a would-be patriot politician, who also won two caps for Wales. He was the first man to coach any British Lions side to overseas victory, and still the only one to beat the All Blacks in a series in New Zealand. That was in 1971, and it was followed in 1972 by the triumph of his beloved Llanelli against the touring All Blacks at Stradey Park. These were the high-water marks of a life of complexity and contradiction. His subsequent and successful career as broadcaster and journalist and then a return to the game as a coach in Italy never quite settled his restless nature.

After his sudden death, alone in an Amsterdam hotel, his close friend, the Pontypridd-born writer, Alun Richards set out through what he called “A Personal Memoir” to reflect on the enigma that had been Carwyn. The result, a masterpiece of sports writing, is a reflection on the connected yet divergent cultural forces which had shaped both the rugby coach and the author; a dazzling sidestep of an essay in both social and personal interpretation.

“One of the most readable books on rugby... a stylish contribution to the game’s history.” The Times

“The best evocation there is of this charismatic if restless man.” Gerald Davies

“The Welsh persona is at the heart of Alun Richards’s book, so much so that the reader could be forgiven for imagining that Dylan Thomas played fly half for Swansea and that Harry Secombe hooked for Pontypool, and perhaps still does... untold pleasure and excitement.” Chris Laidlaw, The Sunday Times

“A craftsman, a wordsmith who can compel you to re-read and savour a sentence, a paragraph or a number of pages...” The Observer

“Stayed up half the night and cracked the dawn. Loved it.” Cliff Morgan

“A beautifully written insight into the very heart and soul of Welsh Rugby and a handsome addition to the literature of the game.” Bill McLaren

The Library in Wales in 2015...

After releasing number 39 in the Library of Wales series last October - Rhys Davies' second novel in his acclaimed Rhondda trilogy, A Time to Laugh - we're barely stopping to pause for breath after the Christmas break in our quest to bring you more classic Anglo-Welsh fiction! Indeed, we have another four releases forthcoming in the next three months:

 

1) New, separate editions of Cwmardy and We Live, Lewis Jones' epic industrial novels of the 1930s, which will comprise numbers 4 and 41 in the series respectively. These are being finalised and will be released shortly, replacing the current dual edition.

 

Cwmardy

Lewis Jones

The first of Lewis Jones' two epic industrial novels of the 1930s.
 
Big Jim, collier and ex-Boer War soldier, and his partner Siân endure the impact of strikes, riots and war, while their son Len emerges as a sharp thinker and dynamic political organiser.
 
Cwmardy paints a graphic portrait of the casual exploitation, tragedy and violence as well as the political hope and humanity of South Wales industrial workers from the 1900s to the 1930s.
 
 
We Live
Lewis Jones
 
The second of Lewis Jones' two epic industrial novels of the 1930s.
 
Len, son of Big Jim and dynamic political organiser, takes centre stage in Lewis Jones' sequel to Cwmardy. Along his journey, he is influenced by Mary, a teacher, and the Communist Party, which becomes central to his work both underground and in union politics, and to his decision to leave and fight in the Spanish Civil War.
 
We Live paints a graphic portrait of the casual exploitation, tragedy and violence as well as the political hope and humanity of South Wales industrial workers from the 1900s to the 1930s.

 

2) Autobiography of a Super-tramp author W. H. Davies' moving and revealing memoir of real life at the turn of the century, Young Emma. This will comprise number 40 in the series, and will be released in early March.

 

Young Emma

W. H. Davies

 
Aged fifty, acclaimed by the literary intelligentsia and exalted by London society since the publication of The Autobiography of the Super-Tramp in 1908, W. H. Davies finally decided to marry. Casting aside the praise and trinkets which populated his old life, he took to the streets of London to find a bride towards the end of World War One.
 
From his affair with Bella, the wife of a Sergeant Major, to his year-long liaison with the gentle Louise, to the turbulent brushes with a drunkard who fears her own murder at his hands, Davies lurches from happiness and affection to annoyance and apathy. That is, until he meets Emma.
 
A moving and revealing memoir of real life at the turn of the century, Young Emma is W. H. Davies’ frank and honest account of the relationship with the woman he encountered on a London street corner who was to become his wife.
 
Featuring a foreword by C. V. Wedgewood and an appendix by George Bernard Shaw.
 
“An extraordinary memoir destined to become a classic” Publishers Weekly
 
“Young Emma is a masterpiece, and stranger than any fiction” Sunday Telegraph
 
“Classic... remarkable... an extraordinary manuscript” The Observer

 

3) Carwyn: A Personal Memoir, Alun Richards' personal reflection on the connected yet divergent cultural forces which had shaped both himself and the legendary Welsh rugby coach Carwyn James, will also follow in early March as number 42 in the series.

 

Carwyn: A Personal Memoir
Alun Richards

Carwyn James treated rugby football as if it was an art form and aesthetics part of the coaching manual. This son of a miner, from Cefneithin in the Gwendraeth Valley, was a cultivated literary scholar, an accomplished linguist, a teacher, and a would-be patriot politician, who also won two caps for Wales at outside-half. He was the first man to coach any British Lions side to overseas victory, and still the only one to beat the All Blacks in a series in New Zealand. That was in 1971, and it was followed in 1972 by the triumph of his beloved Llanelli against the touring All Blacks at Stradey Park. These were the high-water marks of a life of complexity and contradiction. His subsequent and successful career as broadcaster and journalist and then a return to the game as a coach in Italy never quite settled his restless nature.
 
After his sudden death, alone in an Amsterdam hotel, his close friend, the Pontypridd-born writer, Alun Richards set out through what he called “A Personal Memoir” to reflect on the enigma that had been Carwyn. The result, a masterpiece of sports writing, is a reflection on the connected yet divergent cultural forces which had shaped both the rugby coach and the author; a dazzling sidestep of an essay in both social and personal interpretation.
 
“One of the most readable books on rugby... a stylish contribution to the game’s history.” The Times
 
“The best evocation there is of this charismatic if restless man.” Gerald Davies
 
“The Welsh persona is at the heart of Alun Richards’s book, so much so that the reader could be forgiven for imagining that Dylan Thomas played fly half for Swansea and that Harry Secombe hooked for Pontypool, and perhaps still does... untold pleasure and excitement.” Chris Laidlaw, The Sunday Times
 
“A craftsman, a wordsmith who can compel you to re-read and savour a sentence, a paragraph or a number of pages...” The Observer
 
“Stayed up half the night and cracked the dawn. Loved it.” Cliff Morgan
 
“A beautifully written insight into the very heart and soul of Welsh Rugby and a handsome addition to the literature of the game.” Bill McLaren

 

 

 

Win the entire Library of Wales series in the 2015 M. Wynn Thomas Prize!

About the prize
The M. Wynn Thomas Prize is offered to celebrate outstanding scholarly work in the field of Welsh writing in English. There are two prize categories: the ‘Open’ category and the ‘New Scholars’ category. Essays submitted may be unpublished or published, in English or in Welsh. Published essays should be from 2013/14. Topics may include all aspects of Welsh writing in English as well as the inter-relationship of Welsh writing in English with cognate areas (Welsh Studies, history, cultural studies, film/media studies, translation studies, performance/theatre studies, digital humanities, comparative literature etc.). The judging panel for the 2015 Prize will be Dr Matthew Francis (Aberystwyth University/University of Wales Trinity Saint David), Dr Aidan Byrne (University of Wolverhampton) and Dr Alyce von Rothkirch ( Swansea University).
 
The prize is awarded for a piece of substantial scholarship that is engagingly written. We encourage submissions that are ground-breaking in terms of subject-matter and/or methodology/disciplinarity. Essays that grapple with new ideas in an intelligent and conceptualised way are preferred. It is awarded at the annual conference of the Association of Welsh writing in English, which takes place around Easter every year in Gregynog Hall (near Newtown).
 
Prize categories:
‘Open’ Category
Essays in this category will be approximately 6,000-8,000 words long, of the highest scholarly quality and either already published in, or of a standard appropriate to an international, peer-reviewed journal. Authors may be academics or scholars, who are not affiliated with an HE institution. 
Prize: £150 and a full set of the Library of Wales series of books published by Parthian.
 
‘New Scholars’ Category
Essays in this category will be approximately 4,000-7,000 words long and of highly developed scholarly quality appropriate to the author’s level of (postgraduate) study. Authors may be postgraduate students or students who have recently graduated.
Prize: £150 and a full set of the Library of Wales series of books published by Parthian.
 
Deadline:
Essays must be submitted by email or by post by 25 December 2014.
 
Contact Alyce von Rothkirch for more information and to submit your essays:
 
Dr Alyce von Rothkirch
DACE, Swansea University
Singleton Park
Swansea SA2 8PP

Dannie Abse 1923–2014

Dannie Abse

22 September 1923–28 September 2014

 

Dannie Abse was born in Cardiff in 1923 and grew up in the city. After studying at the Welsh National School of Medicine, he moved in 1943 to London where he continued
his medical studies at King’s College and Westminster Hospital; his military service was done in the RAF. Qualifying as a doctor in 1950, he worked as a specialist in a chest clinic on the fringes of Soho; he lived in Golders Green, but kept in touch with Wales through his support for Cardiff Football Club and his presidency of the Welsh Academy, the national association of writers, and for many years he had a home at Ogmore-by-sea; he also edited the anthology Twentieth Century Anglo-Welsh Poetry (1997). He published some sixteen books of verse; they include After Every Green Thing (1948), Walking under Water (1952), Tenants of the House (1957), A Small Desperation (1968), Funland (1973), Way Out in the Centre (1981), Ask the Bloody Horse (1986), On the Evening Road (1994), Arcadia: One Mile (1998) and Running Late (2007); many of his poems on Welsh themes are to be found in Welsh Retrospective (1997). He also wrote a number of prose works, mainly autobiographical, which include Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve (1954) and A Poet in the Family (1974). His Collected Poems 1948-88, entitled White Coat Purple Coat, appeared in 1989 and his New and Collected Poems, nearly three hundred in all, in 2003; a small selection was published in the Corgi series as Touch Wood in 2002. At the heart of his work lay a fascination with the foibles of human nature and he reserved his warmest admiration for those who have refused to conform and have suffered as a consequence. As a Jew, albeit secular, he was particularly sensitive to political pressures; a stronger awareness of his Jewish identity came to the fore in his mature work and some of his later poems dealt specifically with the Holocaust. In all his verse there is, in about equal measure, a deep melancholy and a sheer delight in everyday experiences, some of which is based on his experiences as a doctor. His poems have a haunting power, in which there is a place for nostalgia, humour, irony, optimism and a delicious sense of the incongruous and mysterious. He died yesterday on September 28th 2014 at the age of 91.
 
Our thoughts go out to his family at this difficult time.

Title #39 in the Library of Wales series is revealed...

March 2014 saw the release of the outstanding Story anthology, the first volume of which contains six short stories written by Rhys Davies – the highest number of contributions from any author across both volumes. Therefore, it should be of no surprise that the Library of Wales has selected Rhys Davies’ 1937 text A Time to Laugh to be number 39 in its series of classic Welsh fiction.
 
The release, scheduled for fall 2014, follows on seven years after his last entry in the series – 2007’s The Withered Root – was published, and is the second novel in Davies’ critically acclaimed Rhondda Trilogy, which biographer Meic Stephens has called ‘the most sustained literary examination of Welsh industrial history ever published and certainly the least ideologically distorted’.
 
A Time to Laugh is set in a coal-mining valley on the eve of the 20th century, and takes place against a background of industrial unrest and social change. The old certainties of pastoral Rhondda have given way to a new age of capital and steam, and life in the Valley has been transformed by strike, riot and gruelling poverty. 
 
The central character is Dr Tudor Morris, whose ancient estate has been sold to one of the railway companies opening up the Rhondda for the purpose of extracting coal and taking it down the Valley to the docks in Cardiff. The doctor abandons his class and seeks personal salvation among the poor.
 
About Rhys Davies
Rhys Davies (1901–1978) was one of the most prolific and unusual writers to emerge from the Welsh industrial valleys in the twentieth century. Born in Clydach Vale, a tributary valley of the Rhondda arising from Tonypandy, he was the fourth child of a small grocer and an uncertified schoolteacher. He spurned conventional education and left the valley, which was to be the basis of much of his work, at the age of nineteen, settling in London, which was to remain his base until he died.
 
Early in his literary career, he travelled to the south of France where he was befriended by D. H. Lawrence, who remained an influence in his writing. Though sex remained, for Davies, the primary determinant of human relations, he differed radically from Lawrence in that he saw the struggle for power rather than love, either sexual or emotional, as the crucial factor.
 
Though the bulk of his work was in the novel he achieved his greatest distinction in the field of the short story. Having few predecessors, Welsh or English, he drew his inspiration and models from continental European and Russian masters; Chekhov and Maupassant, Tolstoy and Flaubert. His view of humanity was Classical in that he saw people as being identically motivated whether in biblical Israel, Ancient Greece or the Rhondda valley. Much of his output was concerned with women, who would almost invariably emerge triumphant from any conflict.
 
He was a gay man at a time when it was difficult to live openly with his sexuality. He lived alone for most of his life and avoided relationships which seemed to betoken commitment on his part. His closest friendships were with women. He avoided literary coteries and groups, though he might have joined several, and held no discernible religious or political convictions. He lived, to an intense degree, for his art.
 
Other publications
As has already been mentioned, Davies is no stranger to the Library of Wales, and his 1927 classic The Withered Root was the twelfth release in the series. The novel recounts the troubled life of Reuben Daniels, reared in a South Wales industrial valley, in the bosom of the Nonconformist culture. Therein lies his downfall and that of his people, for The Withered Root is as thoroughly opposed to Welsh Nonconformity as My People (Caradoc Evans), though for different reasons. Revivalist passions constitute nothing but a perverse outlet for an all too human sexuality which chapel culture has otherwise repressed. Nonconformity has withered the root of natural sexual well-being in the Welsh, and then feeds off the twisted fruits.
 
In his article on the novel for Wales Arts Review, Jon Gower writes that 'The Withered Root is a rich evocation of a time when religion swept like wildfire through Wales. At times the author’s imagination blazes incredibly brightly, setting the very pages on fire. Rhys Davies really is one of our very best Welsh writers and almost criminally neglected.'
 
Last autumn also saw the release of Meic Stephens’ comprehensive biography of Davies – Rhys Davies: A Writer’s Life. Such a man, such a writer, presents challenges for the biographer which Meic Stephens accepts with alacrity. He describes the writer’s early years as the Blaenclydach grocer’s son, his abhorrence of ‘chapel culture’, his bohemian years in Fitzrovia, his visit to the Lawrences in the south of France, his unremitting work ethic, his patrons, his admiration for the French and Russian writers who were his models, his love-hate relationship with the Rhondda, and above all, the dissembling that went into Print of a Hare’s Foot (1969), ‘an autobiographical beginning’, which he shows to be a most unreliable book from start to finish.
 
This is the first full biography of an important Welsh writer and a milestone in Welsh biographical writing. Drawing on hitherto unavailable sources, including many conversations with the writer’s brother, it provides a perspective in which his very real achievement can be more easily appreciated.
 
The Spectator states that ‘[Meic] has done more than justice...to the black humour of Davies’s writing and that of his life. This is a delightful book, which is itself a social history in its own right, and funny’, an opinion shared by Wales Arts Review, who agree that, 'in writing this informative, intriguing biography, Meic Stephens has done the reading public a great service, as Rhys Davies is clearly a writer who should be read more of by people not just in Wales but everywhere.’
 
A Time to Laugh will be released in autumn 2014.

31 Stories in May at Hay!: Day 31 ‘The Conquered’ by Dorothy Edwards

Every day throughout May, you will be able to visit the Library of Wales website to download your free story, drawn from Story, vols I and II - a collection boasting the finest Welsh short fiction ever written and featuring some of the most talented literary names from both past and present, including the legendary Dylan Thomas and the award-winning Rachel Trezise, as well as read all about the chosen author.

 

Day 31: ‘The Conquered' by Dorothy Edwards

(Taken from Rhapsody, 1927)

 

 

Dorothy Edwards was born in 1903 in Ogmore Vale, a small mining community in Mid Glamorgan. Her father, an ardent socialist and Independent Labour Party leader, was the local school headmaster. Like her father, she was politically active, working for socialist and Welsh nationalist causes, although she always wrote in English. After a scholarship to Howell's School for Girls, Llandaf, she took a degree at Cardiff University in Greek and Philosophy, but literature was her passion and soon after graduating her short stories began to appear in magazines and journals. These were collected in Rhapsody(1927), along with several previously unpublished stories written during the nine months Edwards spent in Vienna and Florence. Her novel Winter Sonata (1928) followed shortly afterwards. She spent the following years trying to supplement her mother’s meagre pension by writing stories and articles for magazines and newspapers, and doing some extra-mural teaching at Cardiff University, but she never undertook full-time employment. After a brief period spent living in London with acquaintances from the’ Bloomsbury circle, Edwards committed suicide on a Cardiff railway line in 1934. A note left in her pocket at the time of her death read: ‘I am killing myself because I have never sincerely loved any human being all my life. I have accepted kindness and friendship and even love without gratitude, and given nothing in return.'

 

You can download the story in PDF format here. (If download does not start, then right click the link and select 'Save link as'.)

 

Selected bibliography

Rhapsody (Library of Wales, 2007)

 

Contributed to

Story I (anthology) (Library of Wales, 2014)

31 Stories in May at Hay!: Day 30 - ‘The Gift of Tongues’ by Arthur Machen

Every day throughout May, you will be able to visit the Library of Wales website to download your free story, drawn from Story, vols I and II - a collection boasting the finest Welsh short fiction ever written and featuring some of the most talented literary names from both past and present, including the legendary Dylan Thomas and the award-winning Rachel Trezise, as well as read all about the chosen author.
 
Day 30: ‘The Gift of Tongues' by Arthur Machen
(Taken from T.P.’s and Cassell’s Weekly, issue dated Dec 3, 1927)
 
 
Born Arthur Llewelyn Jones in 1863 in Caerleon, Gwent, Machen was one of the most influential writers of  the 1890s and early 20th century and is also well known for his leading role in creating the legend of the Angels of Mons, the group of angels who protected members of the British Army in the Battle of Mons at the outset of WWI. 
Machen was baptised under his mother’s maiden name, and later used it as a pen name. He spent a solitary childhood in the Monmouthshire countryside, exploring the Black Mountains, the ancient forest of Wentwood and the Severn Valley. He drew on his childhood among these dark and mysterious landscapes full of Celtic, Roman and medieval history and long-buried pagan remains, interweaving it with his adult life in bohemian fin-de-siècle London, to create magical and often deeply disturbing tales.
When his father became vicar of the parish of Llanddewi Fach in 1864, he was brought up at their rectory, and since the age of eight he was interested in the occult, reading, amongst others, an article on alchemy in a volume of Household Words found in its library. At the age of eleven, Machen boarded at Hereford Cathedral School, where he received an excellent classical education, but, unable to complete his education due to his family’s poor finances, he moved to London with hopes of a medical career first, and a literary one then, when he published his first long poem, Eleusinia, in 1881. After a number of writing commissions, which included translating The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova, and his attempts to work as a journalist and as a children’s tutor, he published his first book, The Anatomy of Tobacco, in 1884.
 
However, it was in the 1890s that Machen achieved literary success and a reputation as a leading author of gothic texts, contemporary of Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats all of whom admired his work tremendously. In 1890 he published his classic horror novel The Great God Pan (1890), which was  widely denounced for its sexual and horrific content but sold well, going into a second edition. He then wrote ‘The Shining Pyramid’ (1895) and The Three Impostors (1895), a novel composed of a number of interwoven tales, that were eventually to be regarded as among Machen's best works. Many of his works bear the imprint of the Welsh border country of his upbringing. Other stories were published much later, including The Hill of Dreams (1907),  after the Oscar Wilde scandal, that made difficult for decadent writers to find a publisher for new works.
 
After his wife’s death, Machen became an actor and a member of Frank Benson's company of travelling players, a profession which took him round the country, and that led in 1903 to a second marriage. In 1906 though, Machen's literary career began once more to flourish as the book The House of Souls, a collection of his most notable works of the nineties, brought them to a new audience. In those years Machen was also investigating Celtic Christianity, the Holy Grail and King Arthur, concluding that the legends of the Grail were based on rites of the Celtic Church and that the Grail survived into modern times.
 
But it was the WWI that saw Machen return to public prominence due to the publicity surrounding the Angels of Mons episode and a series of stories on morale-boosting propaganda, and after the War he became a star on both sides of the Atlantic, and his great literary significance was recognized by H. P. Lovecraft, who described him as one of the four ‘modern masters of the horror story’.
In 1923 Machen completed his second volume of autobiography, Things Near and Far—the final volume, and in the late 1920s, facing financial hardship, he became a manuscript reader for the publisher Ernest Benn. His financial difficulties were only finally ended by the literary appeal launched in 1943 for Machen’s eightieth birthday, where the names included were Max Beerbohm, T. S. Eliot, Bernard Shaw, Walter de la Mare, Algernon Blackwood, and John Masefield. The success of the appeal allowed Machen to live the last few years of his life, until 1947, in relative comfort.
His fans today include Stephen King, Clive Barker, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, who have all emphasised their debt to Machen as ‘the forgotten father of weird fiction’ (The Guardian).
 
You can download the story in PDF format here. (If download does not start, then right click the link and select 'Save link as'.)
 
Selected bibliography
The Great God Pan (Library of Wales, 2010)
The Hill of Dreams (Library of Wales, 2010)
 
Contributed to
Story I (anthology) (Library of Wales, 2014)

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