Algernon Blackwood CBE

BlackwoodEnglish short story writer and novelist Algernon Henry Blackwood, CBE sadly died 10 December 1951. He was born 14 March 1869 in Shooter’s Hill and between 1871 and 1880 lived at Crayford Manor House, Crayford and was educated at Wellington College. Blackwood had a varied career, working as a dairy farmer in Canada, where he also operated a hotel for six months, worked as a newspaper reporter in New York City, became a bartender, model, journalist for the New York Times, a private secretary, business man, and a violin teacher.

He became one of the most prolific writers of ghost stories and he was also a journalist, he also wrote the short story collection Incredible Adventures (1914). he was also an occasional essayist for various periodicals. In his late thirties, he moved back to England and started to write stories of the supernatural. He was successful, writing at least ten original collections of short stories and later telling them on radio and television. He also wrote fourteen novels, several children’s books, and a number of plays, most of which were produced but not published. He was an avid lover of nature and the outdoors, and many of his stories reflect this. To satisfy his interest in the supernatural, he joined The Ghost Club. He never married; according to his friends he was a loner but also cheerful company.

Blackwood was a member of one of the factions of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, as was his contemporary Arthur Machen. Cabalistic themes influence his novel The Human Chord. His two best known stories are probably “The Willows” and “The Wendigo”. He would also often write stories for newspapers at short notice,

Blackwood’s novels were a speculative and imaginative treatment of possibilities outside our normal range of consciousness, often concerning hidden human powers and the extension of consciousness. He also wrote a number of horror stories and stories which induced a sense of awe in the reader such as the novels The Centaur, which climaxes with a traveller’s sight of a herd of the mythical creatures; and Julius LeVallon and its sequel The Bright Messenger, which deal with reincarnation and the possibility of a new, mystical evolution of human consciousness. Blackwood also wrote an autobiography of his early years, Episodes Before Thirty and an biography, Starlight Man, was also written by Mike Ashley

Sadly Blackwood died after several strokes. Officially his death on 10 December 1951 was of cerebral thrombosis with arteriosclerosis as contributory. He was cremated at Golders Green crematorium. A few weeks later his nephew took his ashes to Saanenmöser Pass in the Swiss Alps, and scattered them in the mountains that he had loved for more than forty years.

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