‘The English landscape was made... not just for food and shelter and pleasure, but also for the journey of the soul. There is a field of supernatural stories set in this “other” country, the country of the spirit...’
In A Country Still All Mystery, Mark Valentine explores how certain writers have used their fiction to convey the idea of numinous terrain, places where we might at any moment stray into the realms of the unearthly and uncanny.
These essays continue similar literary and antiquarian themes to his well-received earlier volume, Haunted By Books (2015). When and where was the last wolf seen in England? Why were certain lonely houses left beyond parish boundaries? Is there a missing book by T.E. Lawrence? What was the secret history of Cope & Fenwick, liturgical publishers? What became of the original Tower of Moab?
A Country Still All Mystery will be read with pleasure by those who enjoy the out-of-the-way, the obscure, the eccentric and the outré. It will appeal to anyone who has ever strayed into remote country which seems to be not quite fully in this world.
Cover image taken from Tristram Hillier’s Shell Oil poster of Jezreel’s Temple, Gillingham, Kent.
‘A Country Still All Mystery’: Machen, Sarban and Otherworldly Landscapes
‘An Atlas of Unknown Worlds’: Mary Butts, John Metcalfe and Stories of Strange Regions
‘A Landscape of the End of the World’: The Supernatural Terrain of Francis and Eric Brett Young
Borderland Mysteries: The Thrillers of R.C. Ashby
The Islands Beyond: The Books of Robert Atkinson
Half- Seen Shadows: C.R.J. Carstairs and the Great
Crying For Elysium: The Pagan Fantasies of Forrest Reid
Courted by an Orchid: The Mystical Fantasies of Ronald Fraser
The Singer of Samarkand: James Elroy Flecker
The Third Alias: A T.E. Lawrence Mystery
The Roads to Shangri-La: James Hilton and the Mysteries of the East
The Ceremony at Arnsburg: Playing the Glass Bead Game
In an Unresting Land: Randolph Stow’s The Girl Green as Elderflower
Towards Tir-Nan-Og: Lord Dunsany’s The Curse of the Wise Woman
The Last Wolf in England
Beyond the Boundaries: Extra-Parochial Districts
The Wind in Their Faces: The After-Life of Becket’s Assassins
Inheritance of Shadows: John Meade Falkner’s Other Novels
Written in Smoke: Oliver Onions’ The Hand of Kornelius Voyt
Against the Abyss: Carnacki the Ghost-Finder
Gentleman Renegade: A.J. Raffles, Cricketer and Crook
Teaching Yourself to Think: Eric Ambler’s Spy Stories
Holy Treasures: Three Arthur Machen Mysteries
‘This Cackling Old Gander’: The New Age and Arthur Machen
Gentle Mephistopheles: The Fiction of Frank Baker
Cope & Fenwick: A Reminiscence, and a Checklist
The Amber Chapel
The Original Tower of Moab
‘Who Could Damn Hardest’: A Muggletonian Influence upon ‘Casting the Runes’?
The English Catalogue
Mark Valentine is an English author, biographer and editor.
Valentine’s short stories have been published by a number of small presses and in anthologies since the 1980s, and the exploits of his series character, "The Connoisseur", an occult detective, were published as The Collected Connoisseur in 2010.
As a biographer, Valentine has published a life of Arthur Machen in 1985 (Seren Press), and a study of Sarban, Time, A Falconer (Tartarus Press), is published in 2010. He has also written numerous articles for the Book and Magazine Collector magazine, and introductions for various books, including editions of work by Walter de la Mare, Robert Louis Stevenson, Saki, J. Meade Falkner and ... (more)