Sunday, October 30, 2011

More Weird Tales from the Victorian Age

Frederick Marryat
Born July 10, 1792, Westminster, London
Died August 9, 1848, Langham, Norfolk, England

For Weird Tales
"The Werewolf" (story, May 1926)

Frederick Marryat served well in the British navy and wrote prolifically about the sea. He also wrote horror stories, including "The Story of the Greek Slave" and "The Legend of Bell Rock." Marryat's weird novels included The Phantom Ship (1839) and Snarleyyow, or The Dog Fiend (1837). Weird Tales reprinted his story "The Werewolf," in its May 1926 issue. I believe the story was retitled after the original, "The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains," drawn from the novel The Phantom Ship, and originally published in The New Monthly Magazine in 1839.

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
Née Elizabeth Stevenson
Aka Mrs. Gaskell
Born September 29, 1810, Chelsea, London
Died November 12, 1865, Holybourne, Hampshire, England

For Weird Tales
"The Old Nurse's Story" (story, Oct. 1927)

Elizabeth Gaskell, friend and associate of Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Eliot Norton, and other prominent people of her age, was a successful and well-loved author despite her short life. With Dickens, Wilkie Collins (see below), and three others, she wrote "The Haunted House," a collection of interconnected stories set in a haunted house. "Conducted by" Dickens (who also wrote the first and last installments and one in between), the story was published in All the Year Round in 1859. Mrs. Gaskell's contribution to Weird Tales was "The Old Nurse's Story" from October 1927.

(William) Wilkie Collins
Born January 8, 1824, London
Died September 23, 1889

For Weird Tales
"The Dream Woman" (story, Jan. 1927)

Author of more than three dozen volumes of drama, fiction, and non-fiction, Wilkie Collins is remembered now for his mystery and detective novels, especially The Woman in White (1860) and The Moonstone (1868). Collins contributed to Dickens' collection of ghost stories, "The Haunted House." (See Elizabeth Gaskell above.) "The Dream Woman," from The Frozen Deep and Other Stories (1874) appeared in Weird Tales in January 1927. 

William Ernest Henley
Born August 23, 1849, Gloucester, England
Died July 11, 1903, Woking, England

For Weird Tales
"A King in Babylon" (poem, Dec. 1929)

Poet William Ernest Henley was a friend of Robert Louis Stevenson and the model for Long John Silver, right down to his wooden leg. His poem "Invictus" (1875) is the popular source of the phrase "bloody but unbowed" and an empowering and inspiring couplet:

I am the master of my fate:
   I am the captain of my soul.

Weird Tales reprinted his poem "A King in Babylon" in its December 1929 issue.

Ernest Dowson
Born August 2, 1867, Lee, London
Died February 23, 1900, Catford, London

For Weird Tales
"A Requiem" (poem, Mar. 1927)
"The Three Witches" (poem, Feb. 1928)

Playwright, novelist, poet, reviewer, and translator Ernest Dowson lived a short life of tragedy and dissipation, yet through his work, his name will live on, for his poetry gave us the phrases "Gone with the Wind" and "Days of Wine and Roses." Weird Tales did its part to remember him with two poems reprinted, "A Requiem" (March 1927) and "The Three Witches" (February 1928).

A Requiem
by Ernest Dowson

Neobule, being tired,
Far too tired to laugh or weep,
From the hours, rosy and gray,
Hid her golden face away.
Neobule, fain of sleep,
Slept at last as she desired!

Neobule! is it well,
That you haunt the hollow lands,
Where the poor, dead people stray,
Ghostly, pitiful and gray,
Plucking, with their spectral hands,
Scentless blooms of asphodel?

Neobule, tired to death
Of the flowers that I threw
On her flower-like, fair feet,
Sighed for blossoms not so sweet,
Lunar roses pale and blue,
Lilies of the world beneath.

Neobule! ah, too tired
Of the dreams and days above!
Where the poor, dead people stray,
Ghostly, pitiful and gray,
Out of life and out of love,
Sleeps the sleep which she desired.

An illustration of a werewolf by Henry Anelay, probably from the 19th century.
And an illustration for The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. The artist was Frederick Walker.
Text copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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