Algernon Blackwood

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Algernon Henry Blackwood (14 March 1869 – 10 December 1951) was an English writer, one of the most influential weird fiction and ghost story authors in the history of these genres.


Episodes Before Thirty (1923)[edit]

Episodes Before Thirty is an autobiographical work detailing some events in Blackwood's early years.

  • (...) The whole setting of this Moravian school was so beautifully simple that it lent just the proper atmosphere for lives consecrated without flourish of trumpets to God. It all left upon me an impression of grandeur, of loftiness, and of real religion... and of a Deity not specially active on Sundays only.
  • It is a mercy one cannot see the future. In that New York misery, present and to follow, had I known that some fifteen years later I should be my own master, living more or less “like a gentleman,” earning my livelihood, though a very bare one, by writing, I could never have faced what I did face. Any value that may have lain in the experiences would certainly have been missed, at any rate. If one knew that the future promised better things, there is no patience in human beings that could hold and wait for it; if, on the other hand, it promised worse, I have met no courage that could bear the present. Those who preach “live in the present only” have common sense on their side.
  • Events, moreover, which brought big changes into my life had always come, I noticed, from outside, rather than as a result of definite action on my own part. A chance meeting in a hotel-bar set me reporting, a chance meeting with Mullins landed me on the Times, a chance meeting with Angus Hamilton in Piccadilly Circus led to my writing books, a chance meeting with William E. Dodge now suddenly heaved me up another rung of life into the position of private secretary to a millionaire banker.

    To me it has always seemed that some outside power, but an intelligent power, pulled a string each time, and up I popped into an entirely new set of circumstances. This power pushed a button, and off I shot in a direction at right angles to the one I had been moving in before. This intelligent supervision I attributed in those days to Karma. In the mind, though perhaps with less decision there, it operated too. A book, a casual sentence of some friend, an effect of scenery, of music, and an express-lift mounts rapidly from the cellar of my being to an upper story, giving a new extended view over a far, a new horizon. Much that puzzles in the obscurity of the basement outlook becomes clear and simple. The individual who announces the sudden change is unaware probably how vital a role he plays in another’s life. He is but an instrument, after all.

Quotes about Algernon Blackwood[edit]

  • Of the quality of Mr. Blackwood's genius there can be no dispute; for no one has even approached the skill, seriousness, and minute fidelity with which he records the overtones of strangeness in ordinary things and experiences, or the preternatural insight with which he builds up detail by detail the complete sensations and perceptions leading from reality into supernormal life or vision. Without notable command of the poetic witchery of mere words, he is the one absolute and unquestioned master of weird atmosphere; and can evoke what amounts almost to a story from a simple fragment of humourless psychological description. Above all others he understands how fully some sensitive minds dwell forever on the borderland of dream, and how relatively slight is the distinction betwixt those images formed from actual objects and those excited by the play of the imagination.

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