Our Haunted Year: 2017

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The end of the 2017 is upon us and I’d like to take a moment to look back at the books we’ve published over these past twelve months. While I’ve always defined Swan River as an Irish press, this year all of our books were either by Irish authors or have a strong Irish connection.

IMG_1604The publication date of our first book was pre-determined: the Selected Poems of A.E. (George William Russell). Last April was the 150th birth anniversary of Ireland’s under-appreciated mystical poet.  And as no other edition of his books were properly in print, I knew it fell upon us to do something to mark the occasion.

The genesis of this book dates a few years back. I was casting around for an A.E. project to mark the sesquicentennial year, and for a brief time considered assembling a collection of my own favourites. That’s when I acquired a first edition of Selected Poems, the dust jacket of which bore a request from the poet himself: “If I should be remembered I would like it to be for the verses in this book.” So that’s exactly what I did. On the boards is reproduced a painting by A.E., and rounding out the book is an excellent afterword by Ambassador Dan Mulhall. If you’re interested in learning more about A.E., we’ve a few past blog posts for you to check out.

IMG_1869Our next book was a real pleasure to work on. Following on from the success of Mervyn Wall’s beloved cult classics, The Unfortunate Fursey and The Return of Fursey, I wanted to bring back into print his equally delightful short story collection A Flutter of Wings, which hadn’t been available for over forty years. To this new edition we added Wall’s nightmarish bureaucratic drama, Alarm Among the Clerks, which had been out of print for an alarming seventy years.I hope people will like this book as much as the Furseys.

What makes this edition even more special are the illustrations by Clare Brennan. In addition to being an excellent artist and designer, Clare has the distinction of being Mervyn Wall’s granddaughter. If you like Clare’s illustrations for A Flutter of Wings, you’ll be delighted to know prints are available to buy from her website. And of course, with an introduction by Val Mulkerns, this book has become one of my favourites of the year.

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In November we were happy to publish a new collection by Bram Stoker: Old Hoggen and Other Adventures. It’s not every day a new collection of short stories by Stoker gets published, which is what makes this book extra special. It brings together for the first time a number of adventure tales that have been rediscovered in recent years. You can read more about how the “lost” volume of stories was assembled, and its relationship to Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories, in the Preface. Old Hoggen also provided a joyful opportunity to work with Stoker scholar John Edgar Browning, who has been leading the charge  in all things Bram in recent years. The striking cover is by long-time Swan River conspirator Jason Zerrillo, who I’m sure we’ll see more from in the new year.

Alan Hanna'sThe final book of the year was The Scarlet Soul: Stories for Dorian Gray, an anthology edited by Mark Valentine and including ten new stories of art, obsession, love, lust, and sorcery by Reggie Oliver, Caitriona Lally, Lynda E. Rucker, John Howard, D. P. Watt, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Avalon Brantley, Timothy J. Jarvis, John Gale, and Derek John. In addition to this fine volume of tales, which I hope you will enjoy, this book is the first time I’ve worked with artist John Coulthart, who designed the front cover and boards.

Green Book 09Turning now to our journal, The Green Book, which has now entered the double digits! Issue nine focused on Irish women writers, with included, among other pieces, two essays by Elizabeth Bowen, an article on Rosa Mulholland by the late Richard Dalby, and an uncollected story by Dorothy Macardle called “The Boys’ Room”. Issue nine was one of the strongest issues we’ve had to date.

Green Book 10Issue ten, published in the autumn, was devoted to the fantasist Lord Dunsany, and comprised of writings about him by his contemporary Irish peers. With pieces by W.B. Yeats, Francis Ledwidge, Forrest Reid, Elizabeth Bowen, Katharine Tynan, and others, my intention was to remind readers that Dunsany once held a firm position in early-twentieth century Irish literature. I hope people read this issue from cover to cover as it illuminates Dunany over the course of his entire career.

2017-08-05-Irish-Writers-PoWhile not a book publication, another project that came to fruition this year was the Irish Writers of the Fantastic poster that I designed with Jason Zerrillo a couple years back. The poster showcases twelve writers, spanning three centuries, each of whom made significant contributions to Irish literature.

While the poster was designed in late 2015, it wasn’t until this October that Alison Lyons of Dublin City Libraries and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature agreed to produce copies of the poster to distribute for free around Dublin, coinciding with the Bram Stoker Festival. Copies of the poster are still available, and I urge everyone (especially if you’re a teacher or librarian!) to pick up a copy. Absolutely free! For those living abroad, there are other ways of procuring a copy.

This post wouldn’t be complete without thanking Meggan Kehrli, Ken Mackenzie, Maurice Healy, and Jim Rockhill for all the work they’ve done this year. For those who don’t know, these are the folks who make Swan River books look so good. Meggan handles all of our design, Ken takes care of the typesetting, while Jim looks after proofreading. Maurice only recently joined us this year, and has proven invaluable. On a sadder note, most will have heard by now that Richard Dalby passed away earlier this year. Richard acted informally as an advisor, as he did for many small presses, and the void that he leaves behind will be sorely missed.

BorderlandSo there you have it! That’s what we got up to this year, and I hope you found something to enjoy. There’s plenty to look forward to next year as well. We recently announced our forthcoming deluxe edition of William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland, which will be out for April 2018. I’ve spared no expense with this one, which will bear a cover and interior illustrations by John Coulthart, accompanied by a newly commissioned soundtrack by Jon Mueller. Not stopping there, Alan Moore contributed a new introduction, while Iain Sinclair is looking after the afterword. Everyone who participated in this project has a passion for Hodgson’s cosmic masterwork. As an added bonus, the book will be fully signed by all contributors.

dublin logo final copyAnd perhaps the biggest new for next year is the return of the Dublin Ghost Story Festival. I’m very excited that the guest of honour will be Joyce Carol Oates, with an opening night performance by Reggie Oliver. Even if next year’s festival is only half as fun as last year’s, we’ll be in for a huge treat. The event is already half sold-out, so if you’d like to attend, please don’t delay! We’ll be announcing further guests in the coming weeks. You’ll not be disappointed!

So that’s everything for now. Thank you again to everyone who contributed to the press this year, be it through buying books, supportive emails, or even coming out to see us at festivals and conventions. I’m looking forward to new books and hearing from everyone in the new year.

 

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Our Haunted Year: 2017

Mervyn Wall (1908-1997)

12 Wall“In Ireland anything may happen to anyone anywhere and at any time, and it usually does.”

The Unfortunate Fursey (1946)

Mervyn Wall (1908-1997) was born in Rathmines, Dublin. He was educated in Belvedere College; Bonn, Germany; and the National University of Ireland where he obtained his B.A. in 1928. After fourteen years in the Civil Service, he joined Radio Éireann as Programme Officer. In 1957 he left Radio Éireann to become Secretary of the Arts Council of Ireland, a position he held until 1975. Widely known during his lifetime as a broadcaster and critic, he is best remembered now for his plays and novels, among them two satirical fantasies set in medieval Ireland, The Unfortunate Fursey (1946) and The Return of Fursey (1948). His book Leaves for the Burning won Denmark’s Best European Novel award in 1952.

Unfortunate CoverNovels and Collections

The Unfortunate Fursey (1946)

The Return of Fursey (1948)

A Flutter of Wings (1974)

Short Stories

“They Also Serve . . . ”

“The Demon Angler”

“Cloonaturk”

Find out more about Irish Writers of the Fantastic.


A Flutter of WingsWhile our deluxe hardback editions of Mervyn Wall’s most beloved novels, The Unfortunate Fursey and The Return of Fursey, are now out of print, we still have available a new hardback edition of his short story collection A Flutter of Wings.

You’ll also find Mervyn Wall in The Green Book. In Issue 2 is Richard Dalby’s “Mervyn Wall: Irish Author and Satirist”, while in Issue 5 there’s an extensive, career-spanning interview with Wall.

Then, of course, there’s our previous blog entry on Mervyn Wall; a short piece on the origins of The Unfortunate Fursey; an article on Wall’s encounter with the founder of modern day witchcraft, Gerald Gardner; and finally a video of a commemorative event held at the National Library of Ireland to celebrate the life and works of Mervyn Wall: Appreciations and Reminiscences.

Mervyn Wall (1908-1997)

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973)

11 Bowen“In her once familiar street, as in any unused channel, an unfamiliar queerness had silted up; a cat wove itself in and out of railings, but no human eye watched Mrs. Drover’s return.”

 – “The Demon Lover” (1941)

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) was born in Dublin. In 1930 she inherited the family estate in Bowen Court, in Co. Cork, where she entertained the likes of Virginia Woolf and Eudora Welty. Her novels, non-fiction, and short stories—such as those in The Cat Jumps and Other Stories (1934) and The Demon Lover and Other Stories (1945)—continue to be read and appreciated today. Her ghostly fiction, which made regular appearances in the anthologies of Cynthia Asquith, is akin to that of Henry James in its psychological probity, but briefer, wittier, and more ironic, with a streak of feline cruelty.

demon loverCollections

The Cat Jumps and Other Stories (1934)

The Demon Lover and Other Stories (1945)

The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen (1980)

Short Stories

“The Cat Jumps” (1929)

“The Apple Tree” (1931)

“The Demon Lover” (1941)

“Pink May” (1945)

“Hand in Glove” (1952)

Find out more about Irish Writers of the Fantastic.


Green Book 09Elizabeth Bowen has featured numerous times in various issues of The Green Book. The first was Issue 4: “Who’s Afraid of ‘The Demon Lover’?: Ireland and the Supernatural in Elizabeth Bowen’s Short Fiction” by Megan Kuster.

Issue 9 contains two pieces by Bowen. The first is her introduction to The Second Ghost Book, a fascinating essay that reveals Bowen’s own thoughts on supernatural literature. the second piece is “Big House”, in which Bowen discusses landed estates in Anglo-Irish literature. In the same issue is Bernice M. Murphy and Edwina Keown’s “Uncanny Irish-American Relations: Elizabeth Bowen and Shirley Jackson”.

Finally, in Issue 10, which is an issue devoted to Lord Dunsany, you’ll find Bowen’s not-so-gentle review of Dunsany’s One Ireland.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973)

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

10 Lewis“If ever they remembered their life in this world it was as one remembers a dream.”

– The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) is widely considered a titan of twentieth-century fantasy, due largely to his “Chronicles of Narnia” novels (1950-56), which commenced with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Though born in Belfast, Lewis is more often associated with Oxford, where he joined the Magdalen College English faculty, and associated with J. R. R. Tolkien and other members of the Inklings literary group. Lewis also explored science fiction in his “Space Trilogy” novels (1938-45), while Christian themes permeate works such as The Screwtape Letters (1942). Lewis is buried at Holy Trinity Church in Headington, Oxford.

9780061715051_1_slideshowNovels

Out of a Silent Planet (1938)

The Screwtape Letters (1942)

That Hideous Strength (1945)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)

Prince Caspian (1951)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

Find out more about Irish Writers of the Fantastic.

 

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Dorothy Macardle (1889-1958)

9 Macardle“It would be strange, indeed, if the vigour and content of the living could not banish the lingering sorrows of the dead.” – The Uninvited (1941)

Dorothy Macardle—historian, playwright, journalist, and novelist—was born in Dundalk, Co. Louth. She was educated at Alexandra College in Dublin where she later lectured in English literature. She is best remembered for her seminal treatise on Ireland’s struggle for independence, The Irish Republic (1937), but also wrote novels of the uncanny, including The Uninvited (1941), The Unforeseen (1946), and Dark Enchantment (1953). She died in Drogheda and is buried in St. Fintan’s Cemetery, Sutton.

Earth-Bound Novels and Collections

Earth-Bound and Other Supernatural Tales (1924)

The Uninvited (1941)

The Unforeseen (1946)

The Dark Enchantment (1953)

Short Stories

“Samhain” (1924)

“The Prisoner” (1924)

“The Portrait of Roisin Dhu” (1924)

“The Venetian Mirror” (1924)

Find out more about Irish Writers of the Fantastic.


Green Book 09In 2016 Swan River Press reprinted Dorothy Macardle’s debut collection Earth-Bound—ghost stories written in both Kilmainham Gaol and Mountjoy Prison—in a lavish, limited edition hardback. This is the first time the book has been reprinted since 1924. With a new introduction by Peter Berresford Ellis, and the addition of stories uncovered in the archives, Earth-Bound and Other Supernatural Tales is the perfect way to rediscover the work of an extraordinary writer.

We’ve also featured Macardle quite extensively in various issues of The Green Book. Issue 7 not only includes a lengthy article on the life and works of Macardle, “A Reflection of Ghosts” by Peter Berresford Ellis, but the same issue reprints two of her poems, “Easter” and “The City”.  In Issue 8 we reprinted a hitherto unpublished short story by Macardle called “The Boys’ Room”, which includes a fascinating introduction by scholar Terri Neil.

Dorothy Macardle (1889-1958)

James Stephens (1880-1950)

8 Stephens“What the heart knows today the head will understand tomorrow.”

– The Crock of Gold (1912)

James Stephens was born in Dublin in 1880. Like many young Irish poets of the early twentieth century, Stephens started his career under the tutelage of A.E.; he dedicated his debut poetry collection, Insurrections (1909), to his mentor. In Irish Fairy Tales (1920, illustrated by Arthur Rackham) and Deirdre (1923), Stephens explored the myths and legends of Ireland. His best remembered books are his Dublin novel The Charwoman’s Daughter (1912) and the philosophical fantasy The Crock of Gold (1912). He died in England in 1950.

136e52e37fb2b8e75873c34b7de2c8d8--wolves-art-illustration-artistsNovels and Collections

The Crock of Gold (1912)

The Demi-Gods (1914)

Irish Fairy Tales (1920)

In the Land of Youth (1924)

Collected Poems (1926)

Find out more about Irish Writers of the Fantastic.


Like Lord Dunsany, James Stephens was involved in the 1916 Easter Rising. His visceral account was later published in a riveting volume called The Insurrection in Dublin (1916), an extract of which was reproduced in Issue 7 of The Green Book. Stephens was also a reader of fantasy literature, and his review of E.R. Eddison’s The Worm Ouroborous (1922) can be found in Issue 8.

James Stephens was also celebrated for his superb poetical recitations, which he did often for BBC Radio. Numerous recordings still survive.

James Stephens (1880-1950)

Lord Dunsany (1878-1957)

7 Dunsany“A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.”

– The Laughter of the Gods (1917)

Lord Dunsany (Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett; 1878-1957) published his first collection, The Gods of Pegāna, in 1905. He followed this with more than sixty volumes of critically acclaimed stories, novels, plays, poems, and translations. A big-game hunter and a sportsman, Lord Dunsany was also a soldier and a highly ranked chess-player; and was the Byron Professor of English Literature in Athens in 1940-41. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950.

fc9dc8e8b83c8ce8df3a96b15f7835daNovels and Collections

The Gods of Pegāna (1905)

The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories (1908)

Plays of Gods and Men (1917)

The King of Elfland’s Daughter (1924)

The Curse of the Wise Woman (1933)

Short Stories

“The Highwayman” (1908)

“Idle Days on the Yann” (1910)

“A Night at an Inn” (1916)

“The Three Sailors’ Gambit” (1916)

“The Two Bottles of Relish” (1952)

Find out more about Irish Writers of the Fantastic.


Green Book 10If you’re interested in Lord Dunsany, then you’re in luck! We’ve devoted the entirety of Issue 10 of The Green Book to Dunsany. If you’d like to read the Editorial Note and peruse the contents, please head over to our website.

Issue 7 of The Green Book also featured Dunsany, in particular his role in the 1916 Easter Rising via an extract from his autobiography Patches of Sunlight.

And finally, in Issue 2, we’ve an article from Nicola Gordon Bowe, “Lord Dunsany: Portrait of a Collector”, discussing his contributions to the Irish Arts and Crafts movement.

Lord Dunsany (1878-1957)