Forrest Reid, Irish author of childhood and the supernatural, was born on June 24, 1875, in Belfast, Ireland, the son of Robert Reid and his wife, Frances Matilda Parr Reid. He was the youngest of twelve children. His father met with business misadventures and lost considerable money investing in ships that tried unsuccessfully to run a Civil War blockade to the United States. As a boy, Reid enjoyed a close family life, but he spent a large amount of time by himself, roaming the fields of Ulster and developing his imaginative powers to the point where dream and reality became almost indistinguishable. He became interested in memory, in time, in the spiritual demands of animals, and in a kind of youthful pantheism. He was tutored at home until he was eleven; he hardly ever attended church, perhaps because he found his needs met during his wanderings over the countryside.
He was educated at the Royal Academical Institution in Belfast and then at Christ’s Church, Cambridge, where he received his B.A. He was not impressed by Cambridge or by intellectual company of the sort he found there, and he was happy to return to Belfast. He lived in a small suburban house, doing most of his own housekeeping and leading a simple life. He took a job as a clerk in a Belfast tea warehouse and apparently enjoyed working there, performing simple duties, receiving an adequate income, and using his mind imaginatively in the creation of ideas and stories.
His first novel was The Kingdom of Twilight, a book he later wished he could disown; the story was good enough to interest Henry James, who wrote to...
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