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Creator / Algernon Blackwood

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Algernon Henry Blackwood CBE (March 14, 1869 — December 10, 1951) was a very prolific (for his time) writer of Horror and Fantasy short stories and novels as well as an early writer of the cosmic horror story as well as a journalist and broadcasting narrator. His works combine the beauty of nature (often going into scenery porn) with various gothic horror tropes as well as creatures and folklore from various religions such as the wendigo. His most famous work is probably "The Willows" which many consider his best. He also was an early influence on the occult detective genre of fiction with his creation "Dr. John Silence". His work would occasionally play with a trope and feature black comedy. In contrast to many other authors like him Blackwood had a genuine interest in the supernatural and actually worked as a paranormal investigator with a group of friends before he moved into writing.

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Tropes appearing in Algernon Blackwood's works include:

  • Arcadia and The Simple Life Is Simple: The theme of The Centaur, where an Irish reporter experiences a vision of cosmic consciousness while in the Caucasus mountains. He comes back believing that humans should discard material possessions and live as close to the earth and nature as possible. Some believe him, but warn that most people won't get it unless they've experienced such a vision themselves.
  • Astral Projection: The kids and some adults in A Prisoner in Fairyland do it to collect starlight in Fairyland, which they distribute to their loved ones as kind of a mental/spiritual anodyne.
  • Body Horror:
    • Happens to the man dragged off by the wendigo in "The Wendigo".
    • "The Paper Man"
  • Brain Bleach: The protagonist of "The Man Who Found Out" learned something so repellent from two ancient tablets that he had a hypnotist eliminate the abhorrent knowledge via Laser-Guided Amnesia.
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  • Cool Train: The Starlight Express in A Prisoner in Fairyland.
  • Creepy Doll: "The Doll"
  • Don't Go in the Woods: A recurring theme, although in The Centaur it's more like the forces there are powerful, so be careful, but they're not evil.
  • Drugs are Bad: In "A Psychical Invasion" they cause a man to get possessed by a ghost.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Some are encountered in "The Willows," and they're literally incomprehensible. They produce a loud ringing sound, dig perfectly conical pits in the sand and in the body of the man they eventually kill, and although their presence can be felt they're invisible.
  • Eldritch Location: The setting of "The Willows." More specifically, it's set in the remote countryside around the Danube River in Romania. And there's something just wrong about it. The characters speculate that an incomprehensible dimension that does not like humans somehow borders or touches it, but they never even come close to finding out the place's actual nature.
  • Elemental Embodiment: "The Nemesis of Fire" features John Silence fighting against a Fire Elemental.
  • The Fair Folk: They heavily influence the countryside that is the setting for "The Trod".
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Blackwood writes a well-meaning one in Jimbo, who is aghast that his five-year-old son, whom he intends to send to military school, is "an imaginative child" who might become "an ass", or a "poet, or one of these -- these -- !"
  • Genius Loci:
    • The setting of "The Willows" - or at least one of the things that is speculated about the setting.
    • The forest around the protagonist's house in "The Man Whom the Trees Loved" is implied to be alive.
    • The spirits of Fright and the Frightened Children in Jimbo in the haunted house are this.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Essentially what happens to anyone who reads the translated message from the tablets in "The Man Who Found Out".
  • Growing Up Sucks: Averted in some tales, especially A Prisoner in Fairyland, where adults may get "wumbled" with daily cares and forget about the realities behind the "real" world, but can re-learn the necessary skills at any age.
  • Haunted House: "The Empty House" has a fairly typical example. Jimbo has a kind of subjective example, with the kid initially thinking the ghosts are friendly, until his governess tries to Scare 'em Straight and ends up traumatizing him.
  • He Also Did: In addition to his supernatural writing Blackwood was also a radio broadcaster and wrote a great deal of children's literature, literary fiction and propaganda.
  • Human-to-Werewolf Footprints: In "The Wendigo", the prints of a man being dragged off by the monster become a copy of the monster's footprints—and grow further apart, until eventually they disappear.
  • Magical Native American: "Running Wolf" has one that come back from the dead as a wolf and only the (white) protagonist can grant him release.
  • Made of Indestructium: The Tablets of the Gods in "The Man Who Found Out"; the first victim spends months trying to unsuccessfully destroy them. Following some Laser-Guided Amnesia by the second victim, they get casually tossed out as bits of rubbish.
  • Nature Spirit: Blackwood was fond of this trope; his variants tend to fall somewhere between The Fair Folk and Eldritch Abomination.
  • Occult Detective: Dr. John Silence.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different:
    • "A Psychical Invasion"
    • "The Empty House"
    • "Running Wolf"
  • Our Vampires Are Different: "The Singular Death of Morton"
  • Our Werewolves Are Different:
    • "The Strange Adventure of a Private Secretary in New York" has an example who behaves similar to a werewolf but never actually transforms.
    • "The Camp of the Dog"
  • Paranormal Investigation
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: In "The Man Who Found Out", an explorer discovers the long-lost Tablets of the Gods, reputed to explain the true purpose of human existence. Reading their translation causes him to lose the will to live, and the friend who inherits the Tablets destroys the text and has his own memory of reading it erased via hypnosis.
  • Wendigo: "The Wendigo" is an influential early example of modern treatments of the concept.
  • When Trees Attack:
    • "The Man Whom the Trees Loved".
    • In "The Willows," provided you take the view that the... things they encountered were spirits of the willow trees.
  • Write What You Know: Many of Blackwood's stories take place in New York (where he lived for a time) or feature various fictional accounts of cases investigated by him when he was part of the Psychical Research Society or things he learned from The Hermetical Order of the Golden Dawn when he was part of them.


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