Algernon Blackwood


A picture of the author Algernon Blackwood

English born in 1869, Algernon Blackwood, a journalist and broadcast narrator, was one of the most prolific writers of ghost stories in the history of the genre. His short story collection Incredible Adventures (1914) is categorized by paranormal buffs as "weird fiction" but many of his stories belong to the Gothic genre where he mixes elements of horror and romance.

A Haunted Island, The Strange Adventures of a Private Secretary in New York, and Skeleton Lake: An Episode in Camp are enough to send shivers down your spine!

Blackwood's stories typically induce a sense of awe, rather than horror. As quoted in Peter Penzoldt's The Supernatural in Fiction (1952) Blackwood sums up his writing this way:

    My fundamental interest, I suppose, is signs and proofs of other powers that lie hidden in us all; the extension, in other words, of human faculty. So many of my stories, therefore, deal with extension of consciousness; speculative and imaginative treatment of possibilities outside our normal range of consciousness. ... Also, all that happens in our universe is natural; under Law; but an extension of our so limited normal consciousness can reveal new, extra-ordinary powers etc., and the word "supernatural" seems the best word for treating these in fiction. I believe it possible for our consciousness to change and grow, and that with this change we may become aware of a new universe.

Gothic and horror fans will wish to read The Willows (1907), one of Blackwood's most famous short stories (it's a long short story, and I have categorized it under the Novella rather than Short Story section). The Wendigo is his other famous classic. It's based on a creature from Algonquian folk myth, it was written after Blackwood returned from a remote hunting trip in Canada.

I also adore his short story, The Olive. This story is more about chance, circumstance and what might be made of them than it is about anything supernatural. It is highly recommended.

Blackwood passed away in December 1951, after suffering a series of strokes.

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