THE KING OF HORROR; Welsh Author Arthur Machen Hailed by the 21st Century's Master of the Macabre As

Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales), May 19, 2013 | Go to article overview

THE KING OF HORROR; Welsh Author Arthur Machen Hailed by the 21st Century's Master of the Macabre As


Byline: JAMES MCCARTHY james.mccarthy@walesonline.co.uk

HE'S a little known writer who's been almost forgotten by readers obsessed with the likes of Dan Brown.

But, 150 years from his birth, cult Welsh author Arthur Machen has been hailed as a master of the macabre and credited with writing the greatest horror story of all time.

Machen, born on March 3, 1863, scandalised 19th century Britain with his pagan sex story The Great God Pan - the tale of a woman who reaps vengeance on men after a scientist conducts a disastrous brain experiment on another woman.

"He was a unique figure in literature and his short story The Great God Pan is regarded by Stephen King, the famous author, as the best horror story ever written," said Gary Crawford, of the Arthur Machen Society.

The Gothic Press founder claimed there was "no-one like" the Victorian, a contemporary of Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde and Yeats, who was born in Caerleon and moved to London as a young man.

His novel, The Hill of Dreams, was set in a town based on the ancient Roman garrison town where he grew up.

The central character, Lucian Taylor, has strange visions and sees his home as it was in Roman times.

"He did not become as famous as Stephen King because King is a very different writer," Gary said. "King fans would not necessarily become Machen fans."

But his writing was "dense" and "poetic", he said, adding that Machen - born Arthur Llewellyn Jones - was "immersed in Welsh history and Welsh ancient beliefs".

"He was very interested in the occult in the 1890s," Gary said. …

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