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Arthur Machen
Arthur Machen
Vital statistics
Occupation Author
Gender Male
Birth Date March 3, 1863
Birth Location Caerleon, Monmouthshire, Wales
Death Date December 15, 1947, age 84
Death Location Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
Notable Works The Great God Pan
The White People

Arthur Machen (March 3, 1863December 15, 1947) was a Welsh author and mystic of the 1890s and early 20th century. He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction. His novella "The Great God Pan" (1890; 1894) has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror (Stephen King has called it "Maybe the best [horror story] in the English language"). He is also well known for his leading role in creating the legend of the Angels of Mons.

Machen's popularity in 1920s America has been noted, and his work was an influence on the development of the pulp horror found in magazines like Weird Tales and on such notable fantasy writers as James Branch Cabell, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long (who wrote a tribute to Machen in verse, "On Reading Arthur Machen"),Donald Wandrei, David Lindsay and E. Charles Vivian.

His significance was recognized by H. P. Lovecraft, who in his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature" named Machen as one of the four "modern masters" of supernatural horror (with Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, and M. R. James). Machen's influence on Lovecraft's own work was substantial. Lovecraft's reading of Machen in the early 1920s led him away from his earlier Dunsanian writing towards the development of what became the Cthulhu Mythos. Machen's use of a contemporary Welsh or London background in which sinister ancient horrors lurk and are capable of interbreeding with modern people obviously helped inspire Lovecraft's similar use of a New England background. Machen's story "The White People" includes strange references to curious unknown rites and beings, an idea Lovecraft uses frequently in the mythos.

Lovecraft pays tribute to the influence by directly incorporating some of Machen's creations and references, such as Nodens and Aklo, into his Cthulhu Mythos and using similar plotlines, most notably seen by a comparison of "The Dunwich Horror" to "The Great God Pan" and of "The Whisperer in Darkness" to "The Novel of the Black Seal". Other Lovecraft tales with a debt or reference to Machen include "The Call of Cthulhu", "The Festival", "Cool Air", "The Descendant", and "The Colour Out of Space".

His intense, atmospheric stories of horror and the supernatural have been read and enjoyed by many modern horror and fantasy writers, influencing directly Peter Straub, Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Karl Edward Wagner, "Sarban" (John William Wall), Graham Joyce, Simon Clark, Tim Lebbon, Mark Samuels, and T. E. D. Klein, to name but a few. Klein's novel The Ceremonies was partly based on Machen's "The White People", and Straub's novel Ghost Story was influenced by "The Great God Pan".

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