Algernon Blackwood (14 March 1869 – 10 December 1951) was an English short story writer and novelist, one of the most prolific writers of ghost stories in the history of the genre. He was also a journalist and a broadcasting narrator. Blackwood had a varied career, working as a milk farmer in Canada, operating a hotel, as a newspaper reporter in New York City, bartender, model, journalist for the New York Times, private secretary, businessman, and violin teacher.
Throughout his adult life, he was an occasional essayist for various periodicals. In his late thirties, he moved back to England and started to write stories of the supernatural. He was very successful, writing at least ten original collections of short stories and eventually appearing on both radio and television to tell them. He also wrote fourteen novels, several children’s books, and a number of plays, most of which were produced but not published. To satisfy his interest in the supernatural, he joined The Ghost Club.
Jack Sullivan points out that “Blackwood’s life parallels his work more neatly than perhaps that of any other ghost story writer. Like his lonely but fundamentally optimistic protagonists, he was a combination of mystic and outdoorsman; when he wasn’t steeping himself in occultism, including Rosicrucianism and Buddhism, he was likely to be skiing or mountain climbing.”
Blackwood was a member of one of the factions of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, as was his contemporary Arthur Machen. Qabalistic themes are at the heart of his novel The Human Chord.
His two best known stories are probably The Willows and The Wendigo. He would also often write stories for newspapers at short notice, with the result that he was unsure exactly how many short stories he had written. Though Blackwood wrote a number of horror stories, his most typical work seeks less to frighten than to induce a sense of awe.