Arthur Morrison was born on November 1, 1863, in Poplar, England, the son of an engine fitter. Morrison seems to have desired to sever his working-class connections, for as an adult he referred to his father as a professional and asserted that he had been born in Kent, though his birth certificate indicates otherwise. His humble origins influenced him deeply; as he grew, he became a stalwart champion of talent and upward mobility as opposed to the stratification of class.
At the age of twenty-three, Morrison became a clerk for the Beaumont Trustees, a charitable organization, in the administration of the People’s Palace, a social improvement facility in the East End. Here his principal interest was in cultural activities—musical performances, debates and lectures, and club and society meetings. He became a subeditor of the Palace Journal and wrote articles on sports and other subjects for various periodicals. In 1890, he began working as a freelance journalist. He was married to Elizabeth Thatcher, whom he had met at the People’s Palace. In 1893, a son, Guy, was born to them.
In the process of becoming established as a writer, Morrison embarked on a study of the occult, which resulted in The Shadows Around Us: Authentic Tales of the Supernatural, published in 1891. That same year, his article describing the respectable monotony of a street in the East End aroused the interest of W. E. Henley, editor of the National...
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