Author. He is remembered as a 19 th century Welsh author, mainly writing supernatural, mystic horror tales. Born Arthur Llewellyn Jones in a rectory, he was the only child of the Rev. John Edward Jones and his Scottish wife, Janet Robina Machen, whose surname rhymes with “blacken.” He took his mother's maiden name as his pen name. He was educated at Hereford Cathedral School, but was unable to go to a university as his father could not afford the fees. He tried for a career in medicine but, in 1880, failed the preliminary examinations of the Royal College of Surgeons. The following year, he moved to London and worked as a tutor, a publishers' clerk, and a cataloger of occult books, while living on a diet of dried bread, tea and tobacco. In the same year, he published his first work, a long epic poem named "Elusinia," in an edition of one hundred copies, of which only three are known to survive. Several more works followed in that decade, notably "The Anatomy of Tobacco" and several translations from the Italian. His most notable novels was "The Great God Pan" in 1894, which was written after his experiences at the ruins of a pagan temple in Wales. It was first published in 1890 as a magazine article but extended to a novel in 1894. Other successful works were "The Three Imposters" in 1895, and "The Hill of Dreams," which was written in 1897 but remained unpublished for ten years. Jerome K. Jerome, a colleague, wrote of Machen's writings: "For the ability to create an atmosphere of nameless terror, I can think of no author, living or dead, who comes near him." In 1887, he married Amelia Hogg, from Worthing in Sussex, and in 1899, after many years of illness, his wife died of cancer. In an attempt to escape his grief, he joined the Order of the Golden Dawn, but found that its teachings were less than fulfilling, and left it to join the Shakespearean touring company of Sir Frank Benson. On the tour company he played only minor roles but met an actress named Dorothie Purefoy Hudleston, who was the daughter of a colonel in the Indian Army. He married Dorothie in 1903, and the couple went on to have a son and daughter. From 1910 to 1925, he was employed as a reporter for the London Evening News. He did not enjoy journalism, but this period saw the appearance of his best-known story "The Bowmen," which appeared in the paper on September 29, 1914, shortly after the Battle of Mons in World War I. In his tale, St. George and the archers of Agincourt appeared on the battlefield to aid the British Army, which many readers believed to be a true account. Although Machen's writing declined in Great Britain during the 1920's, he remained something of a cult in the United States, yet with a lack of funds, he was forced to leave London for a house named "Lynwood" in Amersham, about 26 miles North-West of the capital, where he continued to write essays, reviews and stories. In "Who's Who," he gave as his only recreation, "Dog and Duck," which was, presumably, the local tavern. His wife was buried on April 3, 1947 and he was interred on the 17th of December of the same year, two days after he died at St. Joseph's Nursing Home in Beaconsfield. Directions to his grave site: follow the footpath Eastwards from behind St. Mary's Church, along the River Misbourne. The cemetery soon appears on the North. Follow the central path as far East as you can go, until you reach a grassy slope; then turn left or North. Machen's grave is marked by the tall tombstone, facing East, immediately in front of the slope. The rectory, which was his birth place, has a United Kingdom Commemorative Blue Plaque.
Bio by: Iain MacFarlaine
Dorothie Purefoy Hudleston Machen
1878–1947 (m. 1903)