Arthur Llewellyn Jones Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Arthur Machen (MAHK-ehn), the Welsh writer of the bizarre and supernatural, was born Arthur Llewellyn Jones at Caerleon-on-Usk, Monmouthshire; he took his mother’s maiden name in childhood. The sole child of a High Church clergyman, he was an introspective, imaginative, almost mystical boy, forced to spend most of his time by himself. He was educated in private schools, but the family’s poverty kept him from achieving a first-class education. In his early reading he came under the influence of Thomas De Quincey and various medieval writers, and traces of that interest show in his later work.{$S[A]Jones, Arthur Llewellyn;Machen, Arthur}

Machen worked as a clerk in a publishing house in Paddington, then as a teacher, and finally as a freelance writer. None of these vocations satisfied him, and even writing was a great labor which he never relished. Machen’s best-known works were The Great God Pan, The Three Imposters, and The Hill of Dreams. The latter novel was rejected by the publishers when it was first submitted, and it was ten years after its completion before it finally appeared. Ironically, it was his masterpiece.

Machen married Amelia Hogg in 1887; she died in 1899. In 1902 he joined the Benson Shakespearian Repertoire and toured with them. While with the company he met the actress who became his second wife and the mother of their two children, Hilary and Janet. He joined the staff of the London...

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(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Arthur Llewellyn Jones was born on the border between England and Wales in the village of Caerleon-on-Usk on March 3, 1863, the son of an Anglican clergyman, John Edward Jones. “Machen,” Jones’s mother’s name, was legally taken by his father a few years later to fulfill the requirements of an inheritance. The childhood he spent in this remote countryside, which still bore the traces of ancient Roman occupation, would remain with him all his life.

Having foiled his parents’ plans for a formal education, Machen moved to London at the age of eighteen, earning a bare subsistence as a journalist and translator. His first important literary effort was The Great God Pan (1890), a controversial novella of supernatural horror that was to be followed by many more works in the same vein. Machen wrote his most important novel, The Hill of Dreams, during the mid-1890’s but was not able to find a publisher until about ten years later. Referring to Daniel Defoe’s famous novel, Machen described his own effort as “a Robinson Crusoe of the soul,” and in it he described the agonizing experiences of a sensitive writer much like him in the vast, impersonal metropolis of London.

Machen had made a name for himself as a novelist and short-story writer, but his income was negligible. Although he never quite gave up fiction, he made a living as an actor, journalist, and essayist during the latter part of his life. Machen died in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, on December 15, 1947.