Blackwood, Algernon

14 March 1869 - 10 December 1951

British author, adventurer, newspaper reporter, factory owner, "psychical researcher" — Blackwood's career and interests were varied, although he is best known now as one of the foremost authors of ghost stories in the early C20, perhaps one of the best ever. His own interest in and understanding of "spiritualism" as well as of human psychology is responsible for the impressive power and effectiveness of his ghostly tales. Much of his supernaturalism has mystical undertones, putting his work in line with that of his contemporary Arthur Machen.

Sites:
Blackwood resource page
A brief biography and mini-directory. [Allan Gulette]
Blackwood Stories
Collection of Blackwood texts in various formats, with an emphasis on printer-friendliness. If you want clean, nice-looking hardcopy or etexts of Blackwood's work, check this site out. [algernonblackwood.org]
Brief biographical note
Biographical note and bibliography. [Wikipedia]
Brief biographical note
At Starkhouse Press; includes cover images of Blackwood reprint volumes.
Brief biographical note
Includes bibliography. [FantasticFiction]
Bibliography
Includes images of some early editions of Blackwood's works. [Tartarus Press]
  Algernon Blackwood


Etexts:
"Accessory Before the Fact" [1914]
A neat little "time slip" story, but mystical rather than science fictional. This tale was filmed as part of the early 1960s British TV series Tales of Mystery.
- at HorrorMasters (PDF)
- at BlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats)

"Ancient Lights" [1914]
Another work testifying to Blackwood's fascination with the mystical/supernatural aspects of wilderness, often (as in this case), malefic; this tale could just as well be called "The Man Whom the Trees Hated." Blackwood's nature tales compare interestingly to Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic "Young Goodman Brown."
- at HorrorMasters: HTML (25K) or PDF

"Ancient Sorceries" [1908]
This tale also was filmed as part of the early 1960s British TV series Tales of Mystery.
One of the John Silence stories, although here Blackwood's famous psychic detective/physician has a very small role to play. Another work linking cats with witches and the demonic, so don't read if you're a PC pagan....
- atBlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats)
- at HorrorMasters

"An Egyptian Hornet" [1915]
- at Lit of the Fantastic (20K)
- at BlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats)

"The Empty House" [1906]
A classic haunted house story, one of Blackwood's better pieces, in my opinion; it's a carefully managed exercise in suspense and terror, with none of the atmospherics that sometimes (as in "The Listener," for example) turn into narrative loose ends.
- at BlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats)
- at HorrorMasters [PDF; not printable]

"The Glamour of the Snow" [1912]
Think of this one as the second half of Blackwood's "The Kit-Bag," what with its Alpine setting and winter sports motif....
- at HorrorMasters: PDF or HTML

"The House of the Past" [1904]
- at BlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats) - at this site (16K)
- at HorrorMasters (PDF)

"Keeping His Promise"
A promise kept by a ghostly visitor — Blackwood's treatment of a Gothic-tradition staple.
- at BlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats)
- at HorrorMasters

"The Kit-Bag" [Dec. 1908]
Along with Blackwood's customarily effective use of architectural spaces, this tale pits experience against naiveté and law against justice, and may raise an interesting gender question or two.
--> at LitGothic (PDF; printable, with online annotations)
- at HorrorMasters (PDF, not printable)

"The Listener" [1907]
Like "The Kit-Bag" and "The Empty House" — works written about the same time — this tale effectively demonstrates Blackwood's interest in creating suspense and his use of architectural spaces (rooms & stairways particularly) to do that creating.
- at BlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats)
- at HorrorMasters (PDF)

"The Man Whom the Trees Loved" [1912]
The eco-horror story to end all eco-horror stories.... Or is it, really? A horror story, that is.... This strikes me as one of Blackwood's best supernaturalist works, perhaps in no small part because the supernaturalism is indirect, but also because it's a wonderful meditation on changing notions of spirituality at the turn of the C20, on the threshold of the Victorian era's final collapse in the trenches of World War I. It pits conventional Christianity against animistic mysticism, and thus provides an examination of Victorian spiritual ennui that in some ways is reminiscent of the work of Arthur Machen. Very highly recommended.
- at Project Gutenberg
- at BlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats)
- at HorrorMasters (PDF, not printable)

"Max Hensig" [1907]
Not a supernaturalist tale at all, this is nonetheless one of Blackwood's finer achievements, "Gothic" in its portrayal of a cold-blooded serial killer pursuing — and toying with — his intended victim. Reminds me, a bit, of Bernard Capes' "An Eddy on the Floor." This tale also was filmed as part of the early 1960s British TV series Tales of Mystery.
- at BlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats)
- at HorrorMasters (PDF)

"The Other Wing" (1917)
As in, the disused wing of the Elizabethan mansion where little Timmy is growing up, a wing inhabited, Tim is certain, by Sleep, her minions Dreams — and Nightmare. While not convinced this story entirely makes sense, I think it's an interesting engagement, nonetheless, with parent/child dynamics (perhaps an autobiographical element?) and with the distance one travels, on one's "inner map of wonder," between childhood and adulthood. See this brief comment.
- at Gaslight (45K)
- at BlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats)

"Perspective" [1910?]
- at HorrorMasters

"Secret Worship" [1908]
One of the stories featuring John Silence, Blackwood's psychic detective/physician — and devil worship. And particularly interesting since Blackwood himself was sent, for a while, to a monastic school in Germany much like the one featured in this story. Talk about payback....
- at BlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats)
- at Gordon Fernandes (74K)
- at HorrorMasters (PDF)

"The Transfer" [1912]
Another (brief) tale of malefic nature, seasoned with a hint of psychic vampirism.
- at BlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats)
- at HorrorMasters (PDF)

"A Victim of Higher Space" [1917]
"The Wendigo" [1910]
Another of Blackwood's ghostly wilderness tales. Like so much of Blackwood's short fiction, this story starts off nicely, with a skilful building of suspense (Blackwood's greatest strength, in my humble); it then, characteristically, gets a bit too literal in its rendering of supernatural manifestations, and loses some of its magic. The Wendigo myth has been referenced by Stephen King (in Pet Sematary) and has been featured in a number of films, going back to 1914's The Lure of the Windigo. (A "wendigo," or "windigo," btw, is a cannibalistic monster from Algonquin folklore.)
- at BlackMask/Munsey's (multiple formats)
- at Project Gutenberg (120K)
  click for info from amazon.com
click the cover image for more info from Amazon.com

"The Willows" [1907]
Said by some, including H. P. Lovecraft, to be one of Blackwood's best stories, and thus one of the best ghost stories in English. Personally I prefer "The Empty House," but that's just me.... "The Willows," by the way, forms a very interesting pair w/ another Blackwood tree ghost story, "The Man Whom the Trees Loved." "The Willows" is also one of several wilderness-themed supernaturalist stories by Blackwood; others include "The Wendigo."
  click for info from amazon.com
click the cover image for more info from Amazon.com


Books:
click for more info from amazon.com
click the cover image for more info from amazon.com
The Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood are collected by E. F. Bleiler in Dover's volume of that name; read a review here. click for more info from amazon.com
click the cover image for more info from amazon.com
<-

The tales of Blackwood's supernaturalist detective John Silence are available in S. T. Joshi's recent collection:
->


Essays and Reviews:
Interview with Mike Ashley
Ashley is the author of Algernon Blackwood: A Bio-Bibliogrpahy (Greenwood, 1987), and has edited two collections of Blackwood's tales, as well as numerous other horror-related works. Conducted by Bengt Dahlqvist.
Review of Starlight Man: The Extraordinary Life of Algernon Blackwood.
by Mike Ashley [Constable and Robinson, 2001] Reviewer: Rod McDonald
Another review of Starlight Man
Reviewer: Iain Rowan [InfinityPlus]
Review of The Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood
Includes thumbnail synopses of each of the tales in the Dover collection edited by E. F. Bleiler. [ReviewCentre.com]
Discussion of Blackwood's "The Chemical"
By rbadac [VioletBooks]
Review of The Magic Mirror
This collection of Blackwood's tales was edited by Mike Ashley. Reviewer: rbadac. [Violet Books.com]
Brief comment on Blackwood's "The Other Wing"
By rbadac [VioletBooks]


Discussion:
Blackwood.
Discussion for all things Blackwood; here's subscription info



"Algernon Blackwood."