Creative Stoke

The E-BNR aims to build a comprehensive & unique cross-artform guide to the British neo-Romantic tradition, from 1880 to the present day.

While the British Romantics of 1789-1824 have spawned a vast industry of publishers, conferences & tourism, the later neo-Romantic traditions remain largely neglected. The E-BNR is aimed at bringing this hidden tradition to light.

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  Neo-Romantic artists have drawn their inspiration   from artists of the age of Romanticism or earlier.   Characteristic themes in their work include a   mystical approach to the British landscape...

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George Macdonald.
Lewis Carroll.
John Ruskin.
Christina Rosetti.
Rudyard Kipling.
William Morris.
Richard Jefferies.
Edward Carpenter.
Kenneth Grahame.
Arthur Machen.
Algernon Blackwood.


G.M. Hopkins.
W.B. Yeats.
A.E. Housman
Laurence Binyon.


Gustav Holst.
Vaughan Williams.
Edward Elgar.
Granville Bantock.


Edward Burne-Jones.
Maxwell Armfield.
Mark Symons.
John Duncan.
George Henry.
  & Edward Atkinson

Gerald Moira.
Robert Bateman.
Samuel Palmer.
Walter Crane.
Edward Robert Hughes.
Bernard Sleigh.
Eleanor Fortescue

Nathaniel Sparks.
F.C. Robinson.
Reginald Hallward.
Laurence Housman.
James Joshua Guthrie.
Paul Nash.
Charles Mahoney.
Arthur Rackham.
Thomas Cooper Gotch.
Christopher Wood.


Aesthetic movement.
Birmingham Group.
Neo-gothic architecture.
Fairy & ghost photos.

1920s - 'places to hide':

Ballet design.
Book illustration.
The Kibbo Kift.



John Cowper Powys.
J.R.R. Tolkien.
Mervyn Peake.
C.S. Lewis.
Daphne du Maurier.
Mary Webb.
Herbert Read.
Forrest Reid
T.H. White.
Hugh Walpole.


Robert Graves.
Rev. Francis Kilvert.
Geoffrey Grigson.
Bill Brandt.
Roger Mayne.
John Deakin.
Nikolaus Pevsner.


Arnold Bax.
Vaughan Williams.


John Piper.
John Craxton.
John Minton.
David Jones.
Graham Sutherland.
Stanley Spencer.
Eric Ravilious.
Ralph Chubb.
Charles Mahoney.
Michael Ayrton.
Thomas Monnington.


Dylan Thomas.
Edwin Smith.
Ithell Colquhoun.
Francis Berry.
George Barker.
Laurence Whistler.


Humphrey Jennings.
Powell & Pressburger.
David Lean.
Epic British film music.





   ENTRY: Machen, Arthur

   Arthur Machen (b. March 3, 1863 Ė d. December 15, 1947) was a leading fantasy author of the 1890s. He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy and horror fiction.

   He was born Arthur Llewelyn Jones, in Caerleon, Monmouthshire (now in Newport, Wales). His father John Edward Jones became Vicar of the tiny church of Llandewi Fach, near Caerleon. Machen's love of the beautiful landscape of Monmouthshire with its everyday associations with misty Celtic, ancient Roman and medieval history made a powerful impression on him which are at the heart of many of his works. At the age of eleven Machen boarded at Hereford Cathedral School where he received an excellent classical education. Family poverty however ruled out attendance at University and Machen was sent to London where he sat exams to attend medical school but failed to obtain a place.

   Machen however showed literary promise; publishing in 1881 a long poem "Eleusinia". Returning to London he lived in relative poverty attempting to work as a journalist, and as a childrenís tutor, while writing in the evening and going on long rambling walks through the streets of London.

   Machen later secured work as a translator of overseas works into a spirited English style. In 1887 Machen married Amy Hogg, an unconventional music teacher with a passion for the theatre who had literary friends in London's bohemian circles. Amy had significantly introduced Machen to A.E. Waite who was to become one of Machen's closest friends. Machen also made the acquaintance of other literary figures such as M.P. Shiel and Edgar Jepson. Soon after his marriage, Machen began to receive a series of legacies from Scottish relatives that allowed him to gradually devote more time to writing.

   Around 1890 Machen began to write stories for literary magazines very much influenced by the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, some of which used gothic or fantastic themes. This led to the creation of his first major success The Great God Pan. It was published in 1894 by John Lane. Machenís story sold well, going into a second edition.

   However, following the scandal surrounding Oscar Wilde Machenís association with works of decadent and fanstastic horror made it difficult to find a publisher for new works. Thus though he wrote some of his greatest works over the next few years some of these were published much later. These included The Hill of Dreams and the story The White People.

   Following the death of his wife, he became an actor in 1901 and a member of Frank Bensonís company of traveling players, a profession which took him round the country. This led in 1903 to a second marriage to Dorothie Purefoy Hudleston which brought Machen much happiness. Machen managed to find a publisher in 1902 for his earlier work Hieroglyphics, which was his analysis of the nature of literature, wherein he came to the conclusion that true literature must convey ecstasy.

   From the beginning of his literary career Machen espoused a mystical belief that the humdrum ordinary world hid a more mysterious and strange world beyond. His gothic and decadent works of the eighteen-nineties concluded that the lifting of this veil could lead to madness, sex, or death, and usually a combination of all three. Machenís later works became somewhat less obviously full of gothic trappings, but for him investigations into mysteries invariably resulted in life changing transformation and sacrifice. Machen loved the medieval world view because he felt it combined deep spirituality alongside a rambunctious earthiness. Machenís strong opposition to a materialistic viewpoint is obvious in many of his works marking him as part of neo-romanticism. He was deeply suspicious of science, materialism, commerce and Puritanism, all of which were anathema to Machen's conservative, bohemian, mystical temperament.

   In 1906 Machenís literary career began once more to flourish as the book The House of Souls collected his most notable works of the 1890s and brought them to a new audience. Machen also was at this time investigating Celtic Christianity, The Holy Grail and King Arthur. Publishing his views in Lord Alfred Douglasís journal The Academy, where he wrote regularly, Machen concluded that the legends of the Grail actually were based on dim recollections of the rites of the Celtic Church. These ideas also featured strongly in The Secret Glory which he wrote at this time. In 1907, The Hill of Dreams, generally considered Machenís masterpiece, was finally published, though it was not recognized much at the time.

   The next few years saw Machen continue with acting in various companies and with journalistic work, but he was finding it increasingly hard to earn a living as his legacies were long exhausted. Machen was also attending literary gatherings like The New Bohemians and The Square Club amongst other activities. Finally Machen accepted a full time journalistís job at Alfred Harmsworthís London Evening News in 1910. In February 1912 his son Hilary was born, followed by a daughter Janet in 1917. The coming of war in 1914 saw Machen return to public prominence for the first time in twenty years due to the publication of The Bowman and the subsequent Angels of Mons episode. He published a series of stories capitalizing on this success, most of which were morale boosting propaganda but the most notable, The Great Return (1915), and the novella The Terror (1917), were more accomplished and dwelled more closely on legend. He also published a series of autobiographical articles during the war, later published as Far off Things.

   In general though Machen thoroughly disliked work at the newspaper, and it was only the need to earn money for his family which kept him at it. The money came in useful allowing him to move to a bigger house in St Johnís Wood in 1919 with a garden, which became a noted location for literary gatherings attended by friends like the painter Augustus John, Wyndham Lewis, and Jerome K. Jerome. Machenís dismissal from the Evening News in 1921 came as a relief in one sense though it caused financial problems. However Machen was recognized as a great Fleet Street character by his contemporaries and he remained in demand as an essay writer for much of the twenties.

   Fortunately 1922 also saw a revival in Machenís literary fortunes. The Secret Glory was finally published, as was his autobiography Far Off Things, and new editions of Machenís Casanova, The House of Souls and The Hill of Dreams all came out. Machenís works found a new audience and publishers in America.

   In 1924 he issued a collection of bad reviews of his own work, with very little commentary, under the title Precious Balms.

   He received some recognition for his literary work when he received a Civil List pension in 1932 of one hundred pounds, but a gradual loss of work since the early 1920s later made things difficult once more.

   Machenís financial difficulties were only finally ended by the literary appeal launched in 1943 for his eightieth birthday. The initial names on the appeal show the general recognition of Machenís stature as a distinguished man of letters as they included Max Beerbohm, T. S. Eliot, Bernard Shaw, Walter de la Mare, Algernon Blackwood and John Masefield amongst others. The success of the appeal allowed Machen to live the last few years of his life till 1947 in relative comfort.

   Machenís literary significance is substantial being translated into many languages and his stories have been reprinted in short story anthologies countless times. More recently the small press has continued to keep Machen's work in print.

   Literary critics see Machenís works as a significant part of the late Victorian revival of the gothic novel and the decadent movement of the 1890s bearing direct comparison to the themes found in contemporary works like Robert Louis Stevensonís The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Bram Stokerís Dracula and Oscar Wildeís The Picture of Dorian Gray. At the time authors like Wilde, W.B. Yeats and Arthur Conan Doyle were all admirers of Machenís works.

   His popularity in 1920s America has been noted and Machenís work was an influence on the development of the pulp horror found in magazines like Weird Tales and on such notable fantasy writers as Robert E. Howard.

   His significance was recognized by H. P. Lovecraft, who in his essay on "Supernatural Horror in Literature" named Machen as one of the four "modern masters" of supernatural horror. Machenís influence is not limited to genre fiction, however Jorge Luis Borges recognized Machen as a great writer, and through him he has had an influence on magic realism. He also was one of the most significant figures in the life of the Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman, who attributed to Machen his conversion to High Church Anglicanism, an important part of his philosophy and poetry. Obviously, Machen's niece Sylvia Townsend Warner (who has written extensively on fantasy and fairytale) was also influenced by Machen.

   Machen might also be seen as a pioneer in psychogeography, due to his interest in the interconnection between landscape and the mind. His strange wanderings in Wales and London recorded in his beautiful prose make him of great interest to writers on this subject, especially those focusing on London such as Iain Sinclair, and Peter Ackroyd. Alan Moore wrote a graphic novel exploration of Machenís mystical experiences in his work Snakes and Ladders.





Leslie Hurry.
Robin Tanner.
Ceri Richards.
Michael Ayrton.

  Classical music:

Havergal Brian.
Benjamin Britten.


Dylan Thomas   (reputation).
Vernon Watkins.
Ted Hughes.
Christopher Logue.
Keith Vaughan.
Ore magazine.
Eric Ratcliffe.
Edwin Morgan.
Roland Mathias.


Laurie Lee.
Alan Garner.
John Gordon.


Laurie Lee.
E.P. Thompson.
J.A. Baker.
Geoffrey Grigson.



Fay Godwin.
James Ravilious.
Raymond Moore.
Andy Goldsworthy.

  Popular music:

Robert Wyatt.
Syd Barrett.
Marc Bolan.
John Foxx.
Throbbing Gristle.
Genesis P. Orridge.
The Dancing Did.
Virginia Astley.
Brian Eno.
Roger Eno.

  Classical music:

Dave Heath.


Clifford Harper.


Derek Jarman.
David Rudkin.


Vivienne Westwood.


Angela Carter.
Ted Hughes.
Peter Ackroyd.
Heathcote Williams.
Keith Roberts.
Richard Cowper.
Robert Holdstock.
Susan Cooper.


Kathleen Raine.
Roland Mathias.
Gwyn Thomas.
R.S. Thomas.
George Mackay

Seamus Heaney.
Pauline Stainer.


Graham Ovenden.
Annie Ovenden.
Ann Arnold.
Robert Lenkiewicz.
John Elwyn.
Cecil Collins.
Ian Hamilton Finlay.
Andrew Logan.
Alan Reynolds.
Norman Ackroyd.
Christopher P. Wood.
Jim Leon.

  Groups & circles:

The Ruralists.
Temenos magazine.
Resurgence magazine.
Crop Circles, makers.
English Underground.

2000 - to the present:

Andrew Logan.
Ian Hamilton Finlay.
Vivienne Westwood.
Andy Goldsworthy.
Christopher Bucklow.
Peter Ackroyd.
Pauline Stainer.
Brian Eno.
Roger Eno.
Jon Aldersea.
Christopher P. Wood.
Made in Staffordshire, England.  © 2007. Last updated: 18th Jan 2007. Site search by PicoSearch.
Some of the initial E-BNR text was sourced or partly derived from Wikipedia, used here under the GNU licence.