Machen, Arthur (Llewellyn) (1863-1947)

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Machen, Arthur (Llewellyn) (1863-1947)

British novelist born March 3, 1863, at Carleon-on-Usk, Wales, who became one of the leading authors of English occult fiction, but was undeservedly neglected during his lifetime. He was a close friend of Arthur Edward Waite, one of Britain's greatest authorities on occult literature. His books include: The Great God Pan (1894), The House of Souls (1906), The Hill of Dreams (1907), The Great Return (1915), and The Terror (1917). In addition to his powerful stories on occult themes, he also published a number of volumes of essays and translations.

One of Machen's short stories brought a legend to real life. On September 29, 1914, his story "The Bowmen" appeared in the London Evening News. The story describes how British troops, hopelessly outnumbered in the French trenches of World War I, are miraculously rescued by phantom English archers from Agincourt, led by St. George. Many people read it as a factual account of what had happened, and a few months after publication, a number of eyewitness accounts of the Angels of Mons began to appear. Throughout the twentieth century people have believed the events actually occurred.

Machen reiterated that his story was fiction in the introduction to the later publication of his story in the book The Bowmen and Other Legends of the War (London, 1915), but the actual semi-miraculous retreat of the British from Mons had such an overpowering effect on the British public that they seemed to want to believe in divine intervention.

He died December 15, 1947, at Beaconsfield, England.


Machen, Arthur. The Great God Pan. 1894. Reprint, London: M. Secker, 1926.

. The Great Return. London: Faith Press, 1915.

. The Hill of Dreams. 1907. Reprint, New York: Dover,1986.

. The House of Souls. 1906. Reprint, Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1971.

. The Terror. 1917. Reprint, New York: W. W. Norton, 1965.

Reynolds, Aidan, and William Charlton. Arthur Machen: A Short Account of His Life and Work. London, 1963.

Sullivan, Jack, ed. The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural. New York: Viking, 1986.