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Arthur Machen Collection

An inventory of his collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Apr 1989

Biographical History

Arthur Machen (1863-1947) was a British novelist, short story writer, and translator best known for his supernatural and horror tales such as The Three Impostors and The Hill of Dreams.

Arthur Llewellyn Jones Machen was born on March 3, 1863 in the Welsh border town of Caerleon on Usk to John Edward Jones and Janet Machen. An only child, Machen led an isolated childhood that would later influence his writing. Although Machen sat for the exam for the Royal College of Surgeons in June 1880, he decided to pursue a career of writing. In London, he worked with Redway and with Robson and Karslake as a cataloger of rare and occult books. Machen married Amy Hogg in 1887. After his wife died in 1899, Machen joined the Sir Frank Benson's Shakespeare Repertory Company as an actor in 1901. While with the company, Machen met his second wife, Purefoy Hudleston, whom he married in 1903. The couple had two children, Hilary and Janet. Machen was a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, an occultist group.

Selected Works

1884 The Anatomy of Tobacco; or, Smoking Methodised
1888 The Chronicle of Clemendy; or, The History of the IX Joyous Journeys
1894 The Great God Pan, and The Inmost Light
1895 The Three Impostors; or, The Transmutations
1906 The House of Souls
1907 The Hill of Dreams
1915 The Angels of Mons, The Bowmen, and Other Legends of the War
The Great Return
1917 The Terror
1922 Far Off Things
1923 Things Near and Far
1924 The Shining Pyramid
1933 The Green Round
1936 The Children of the Pool, and Other Stories
The Cosy Room, and Other Stories

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Arthur Machen Collection contains eleven outgoing letters and one item of miscellany by the fin de siecle British novelist, poet, essayist, and translator of Casanova's Memoirs.

Written between 1915 and 1933, the pieces of Correspondence in the collection are to various correspondents, most of whom were business associates (Henry Savage, Messrs. Spurr and Swift) and admirers of Machen's work (Maurice Berry, John H. Swann). There are also two items (G. D. Parker, Mr. Ragg) in which Machen offers encouragement to fellow writers. Commiserating with Henry Savage concerning the publication of the new periodical Gypsy, Machen notes (29 Apr 1915): "You are bound to be harried & worried; it is what editors are for." He goes on to offer a further observation:

I am afraid - & also I hope - that you will lack the element that really made the success of "The Yellow Book." This was, I fear, not the beauty & the strangeness of Beardsley's line, but the foul beastliness of his faces at this particular stage of his art. The literature of "The Yellow Book" was very well, but not amazing in its merit.

Responding to a letter from Dr. Parker asking advice about publishing a book of poems, Machen writes (29 Sep 1922): "I was thrown out of Fleet St. about a year ago, & have nothing to do with that world now." But in a letter to Mr. [Frederick William?] Ragg (21 May 1925), Machen writes more encouragingly:

You must go on with the effort of literature: unhappily, that is the only recipe. Remember that Cervantes was on the verge of old age when he thought of "Don Quixote." Though there is no general rule: to many is given to do best in their earliest days.

There are also a number of letters in the collection in which Machen writes about his own work (Berry, Ragg, Swann). Referring to his Dog and Duck, Machen notes tantalizingly (03 Mar 1924):

As to the Game: let me whisper in your ear - not for publication - that its antiquity is not quite so vast as the treatise might seem to suggest. But when the season comes round, I will lead you to the Alley, & and instruct you in its mysteries.

And writing to Maurice Berry of an unspecified work which had been ignored by both the critics and the reading public, Machen illuminates a reference to poet John Keats (06 May 1926):

...this is one of the instances given to show that Truth & Beauty are not obvious to all when they are uttered. The "Word of the Lord" that was given to Keats was the supreme beauty of his poetry: it was received in many influential quarters - the Quarterly, Blackwood, Carlyle - with hatred, contempt, abuse.

In addition to Machen's letters, the collection also contains a single item of Miscellany: an undated page of lettering samples for The Hills of Dreams. The various styles of lettering were possibly intended for use on a book cover or title page.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection contains two series: Correspondence and Miscellany. The Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Machen, Arthur, 1863-1947.
Savage, Henry.


Authors, English.
English literature -- 19th century.
English literature -- 20th century.
Poets, English.

Genres and Forms

Letters (correspondence)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Arthur Machen Collection
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

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