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Summary Article: Machen, Arthur
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Welsh writer. His stories of horror and the occult include The Great God Pan 1894 and The Terror 1917. Partly autobiographical, The Hill of Dreams 1907 is an early example of the stream of consciousness novel. Other writings, characterized by mystic symbolism and the supernatural, include the collections of stories The House of Souls 1906 and The Angel of Mons 1915. Machen was regarded as an exponent of the Decadents school of writing.

Life He was born in Caerleon-on-Usk and educated at Hereford Cathedral School. He was brought up in the countryside and was strongly influenced by ancient religious traditions; when he went to London as a young man, he found a job cataloguing a library of occult books. He spent some years in ill-paid literary jobs, making a name with his translations of The Heptameron 1886 and The Memoirs of Casanova 1894. From 1910 to 1921 he was on the staff of the Evening News, which published his fantasy The Bowmen, containing the legend of the ‘Angel of Mons’.

Work In his own prose, measured and musical, he wrote of strange beliefs, of mystics who walked on lonely hills in Wales or in sinister streets in Holborn. His earliest works, apart from translations, were The Chronicle of Clemendy 1884 and The Anatomy of Tobacco 1888. Popularity eluded him until he wrote The Great God Pan, which began his career as a writer of stories of ‘nameless terrors’. The Secret Glory 1922 introduced the theme of the Holy Grail, and his finest stories, such as The Shining Pyramid 1925 and The Children of the Pool 1936, offer a unique blend of pastoral and occult awareness.

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