Monday, October 29, 2018

The Peripeteia of Frances Yates

Frances Yates: The Art of Memory (1966)

And what, pray tell, does 'peripeteia' mean when it's at home?
a sudden reversal of fortune or change in circumstances, especially in reference to fictional narrative
is the best definition the online dictionary can provide.

I guess, in the case of Frances Yates, it refers to her transformation from an immensely learned but fairly dry-as-dust scholar of the intellectual life of the sixteenth and seventeenth century in Europe (with particular reference to the flourishing of hermetic and magical discourses in the allegedly proto-scientific late Renaissance) into a kind of pop culture guru: the High Priestess of the more respectable side of New Age Occultism.

Dame Frances Amelia Yates (1899-1981)

Southsea, Portsmouth

Her earlier books, on John Florio, the first translator of Montaigne into English (1934); Shakespeare (Love's Labour's Lost, 1936), and such apparently recondite subjects as The French Academies of the Sixteenth Century (1947) and The Valois Tapestries (1959), gave few signs of what was to come.

Reviewers were cautious about some of her 'wilder' conjectures, but for the most part she appeared just another habitué of Aby Warburg's superb library, transferred to England to avoid Nazi repression in 1933, and (as the Warburg Institute), affiliated with the University of London in 1944.

  1. John Florio: The Life of an Italian in Shakespeare's England. 1934. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

  2. A Study of Love's Labour's Lost. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1936.

  3. The French Academies of the Sixteenth Century. 1947. London: Routledge, 1989

  4. The Valois Tapestries. 1959. London: Routledge, 2010.

The sea-change came with her next two publications: the double-whammy of Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (1964) and The Art of Memory (1966). Wow! Talk about time, place and opportunity all coming together.

It was the age of The Morning of the Magicians (UK, translated as 'The Dawn of Magic': 1963 / US: 1964), Louis Pauwels' and Jacques Bergier's 1960 bestseller about the wilder side of twentieth century occultism. It all sounds familiar enough nowadays, but at the time most people had never even heard of the 'Vril Society' or the 'Thule Spceity" - let alone their philosophical connections with Nazism.

Le Matin des magiciens mixed up information about "conspiracy theories, ancient prophecies, alchemical transmutation, a giant race that once ruled the Earth, and the Nazca Lines" into what (in retrospect) seems a kind of blueprint for New Age nuttiness generally. Some of it may actually have been true, mind you.

It's not, I hasten to say, that Frances Yates's serious study of the memory systems of Ramon Lull and Giordano Bruno, and of the Renaissance Hermetic tradition generally had anything in common intellectually with Pauwels and Bergier's rather formless compendium of mid-twentieth century bugaboos and conspiracy theories, but it's impossible to deny that the same readers were attracted to both.

The Art of Memory in particular, outmoded though it may be in some few particulars fifty years after its publication, remains one of the most exciting books of intellectual history I've ever read. Its devotees are many, and the number of memory system addicts it has spawned must be many (even TV mentalist Derren Brown has claimed to practise its precepts).

  1. Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. 1964. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul / Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1982.

  2. The Art of Memory. 1966. A Peregrine Book. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978.

All of which brings me to the second meaning of peripeteia in my title above.

I wish I could date it precisely, but it must have been sometime in the mid-1980s that I was browsing through Anah Dunsheath's Rare Books on High Street, when I stumbled across a little pile of books shoved to one side of the entrance to her shop.

They were, in fact, four. As well as the two books mentioned directly above, there were also:

  1. Frances Yates. Lull and Bruno. Collected Essays 1 (of 3). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982.

  2. Scott, Walter, ed. & trans. Hermetica: The Ancient Greek and Latin Writings which Contain Religious or Philosophic Teachings Ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus. Vol. 1: Introduction / Texts and Translation. 4 vols. 1924. Boulder: Hermes House, 1982.

Hermetica, vol. 1 (1982)

All in all, it looked as if some budding Occultist had bought a bunch of exciting looking books about all sorts of esoteric matters, and had either found them too boring and abstruse for their taste, or else found a more desperate need for ready cash. Reader, I bought them.

Bought them and took them home with me and immediately started in on The Art of Memory and, really, nothing has been the same for me ever since. It was just so strange and fascinating: it gave an entirely new angle on classical antiquity, on figures as well known as Simonides and Cicero, but then - in the later chapters - it completely overturned any notions I'd had that Giordano Bruno had been a martyr to science, or that any number of my Renaissance heroes had been devoted to "reason" in any modern sense of the term.

It was, I must confess, a long time before I read the first part of her diptych, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, which seemed to me then (it doesn't now) a bit anticlimactic after the highs of The Art of Memory. Nor did I get very far with the rather boring translation of the Hermetica. The book of essays, Lull and Bruno, was very good value indeed, though, and offered a whole series of new perspectives on this matter of the Hermetic tradition.

There is a certain amount about Ramon Lull in The Art of Memory, but the essays collected here gave a glimpse of her mind at work: her painstaking way of collecting evidence, venturing conjectures, and building on them to make immensely pleasing - if not always entirely convincing - wholes.

Anyone who's at all familiar with my own fiction (a somewhat select group, admittedly) will have observed the pervasive Yatesian influence. It's particularly strong in my first two novels, Nights with Giordano Bruno (the title is a bit of a giveaway), and The Imaginary Museum of Atlantis (which lent its name to this blog), but also in the novella Trouble in Mind (2005).

After that the fever subsided a bit, but Frances Yates still is my go-to gal when it comes to any kind of abstruse or coded information. Her work has its ups and downs, definitely, but basically I consider her both completely intellectually honest and greatly gifted creatively - the models she came up so regularly with in her works of intellectual history have a huge mythopoetic force to them.

Her later work is more of a mixed bag. It was assured of a much wider sale than most historians of ideas enjoy, which led to jealousy from less fortunate colleagues. It also, at times, advanced some rather dubious conjectures on such subjects as the underlying design of Shakespeare's Globe theatre, and the precise influences at work in the court of King Frederick of Bohemia (whose ousting from the throne led directly to the Thirty Years War in Germany).

Here are her five late books, copies of all of which I've collected along the way:

  1. Theatre of the World. 1969. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969.

  2. The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. 1972. A Paladin Book. Frogmore, St Albans: Granada Publishing Ltd., 1975.

  3. Astrea (1975)

  4. Astraea: The Imperial Theme in the Sixteenth Century. 1975. Ark Paperbacks. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985.

  5. Shakespeare's Last Plays: A New Approach. 1975. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975.

  6. The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age. 1979. Ark Paperbacks. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that she was having fun in these last books. They touch on all the themes dear to her heart, and they're all exhaustively researched, and yet they're not quite so convincing as the best of her mature work. The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, in particular, is a dazzling read. Whether or not "Christian Rosenkreuz" and the various strange letters circulating around the continent in the early seventeenth century can really be explained by reference to the politics of the Holy Roman Empire may seem doubtful at times, but certainly nobody else has succeeded in making more sense of that strange tangle of esoteric philosophy and partisan religious politics.

Similarly, I'm not sure that she proves her point about the shape and structure of Shakespeare's various theatres, but she brings in Robert Fludd, John Dee, and an awe-inspiring range of learning which gives one some idea of just how complex and delightful such intellectual puzzles can be.

Nowadays, of course, these things have been vulgarised and made ridiculous by such absurd gallimaufries of half-digested platitude and pointless factoid as The Da Vinci Code and its progenitor The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. When Yates was writing, though, one could still theorise without the haunting shadow of Indiana Jones, Robert Langdon, and Benjamin Gates (from National Treasure).

By contrast, it's never safe to assume that Yates has gone out too far on a limb, or that she doesn't really know what she's talking about. All of her books, in the final analysis, constitute tentative suggestions for future researchers in the field. She's no crank, but is always evidence-driven and willing to change her mind as and when new facts and theories emerge.

I've often dreamed of completing my Frances Yates collection: buying up all the older books I don't have, as well as the remaining volumes in her collected essays. They are quite expensive, for the most part, though, so I guess I'm still waiting for some blessed windfall like that day 35-odd years ago when I bent over to look at a stack of dusty-looking books on Anah Dunsheath's floor.

  1. Lull and Bruno. Collected Essays, vol. 1 of 3 (1982)

  2. Renaissance and Reform: The Italian Contribution. Collected Essays, vol. 2 of 3 (1983)

  3. Ideas and Ideals in the North European Renaissance. Collected Essays, vol. 3 of 3 (1984)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Classic Ghost Story Writers: H. P. Lovecraft

It's tempting to be facetious about the strange worlds of H. P. Lovecraft, "the twentieth century horror story's dark and baroque prince," as Stephen King famously described him.

I think a quick peek at the picture above will cure you of any notion that Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) was gifted with much of a sense of humour. Life, for him, was a terrifying and frustrating business.

Here's a little photo-montage to enable you to visualise him more clearly:

What kind of a writer was he? An over-the-top, boots-and-all, pedal-to-the-metal user of every adjective and adverb under the sun to get the extreme effects he craved. His prose may not always be pretty, but it does have a certain brute effectiveness to it.

Here's an example of his early fantasy writing, "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," a long novella deeply indebted to Lord Dunsany:
Well did the traveler know those garden lands that lie betwixt the wood of the Cerenerian Sea, and blithely did he follow the singing river Oukranos that marked his course. The sun rose higher over gentle slopes of grove and lawn, and heightened the colors of the thousand flowers that starred each knoll and dangle. A blessed haze lies upon all this region, wherein is held a little more of the sunlight than other places hold, and a little more of the summer's humming music of birds and bees; so that men walk through it as through a faery place, and feel greater joy and wonder than they ever afterward remember.

And here's a piece of his more mature writing:
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

I guess what those of us brought up on his stories relish most, though, are the fragments of unknown, hellish languages he liked to mix into his stories. Here's a wonderful example from 'The Shadow over Innsmouth', cunningly blended with New England dialect:
"Yield up enough sacrifices an' savage knick-knacks an' harbourage in the taown when they wanted it, an' they'd let well enough alone. Wudn't bother no strangers as might bear tales aoutside—that is, withaout they got pryin'. All in the band of the faithful—Order o' Dagon—an' the children shud never die, but go back to the Mother Hydra an' Father Dagon what we all come from onct—Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn—"

Steve Thomas: Innsmouth

He's best known for his creation of a thing called the 'Cthulhu Mythos': a more-or-less consistent, interconnected mythology which gradually came into being in such stories as 'The Call of Cthulhu' and 'The Dunwich Horror,' and reached its full flowering in the late novel 'At the Mountains of Madness' and his final completed story 'The Shadow Out of Time'.

The artist Steve Thomas has created a series of mocked-up travel posters for particularly significant Lovecraftian destinations:

Steve Thomas: Arkham, Massachusetts

Chief among them, of course, is Arkham, Massachusetts, home of the Miskatonic University, whose library boasts a copy of that most recondite of volumes The Necronomicon, written by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, and a source of considerable inconvenience to everyone who encounters it, whether in the original or in its variously expurgated translations into a myriad of tongues.

Abdul Alhazred: The Necronomicon

Arkham (allegedly a blend of Salem, Massachusetts, and the author's hometown Providence, Rhode Island), has more than its fair share of demons, hauntings, empty graves, corpses with their faces gnawed off, spectral beasts, and even radioactive meteorites from outer space.

Nor is there any sense in pretending that Lovecraft was just playing around with these things for poetic effect. His paranoias and neurotic fears were very real. Take, for instance, the following conversation about "H. P. Lovecraft's Phobias" on Yahoo Answers!:
Question: I've heard that Lovecraft had various phobias, what were they?

Best Answer:
  • Gelatinous seafood and the smell of fish (severe).
  • Unfamilar types of human faces that deviated from his ethnic norm (severe).
  • Doctors and hospitals (mild).
  • Large enclosed spaces (subway systems, large caves etc., mild).
  • He also seems to have had a mild phobia about tall buildings and the possibility of being trapped under one after a collapse.
  • Very cold weather (probably justifiable, since he tended to faint in it).
- Source: David Haden
If you'd like to know more about that or other recondite matters, you could do worse than consult the following tome, by the indefatigable Leslie S. Klinger, annotator of Sherlock Holmes, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Alan Moore's Watchmen and a host of others:

Leslie Klinger, ed. The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft (2014)

  • Klinger, Leslie S., ed. The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft. Introduction by Alan Moore. Liveright Publishing Corporation. New York & London: W. W. Norton, 2014.

The main thing to emphasise is that this strange mixture of aesthetic recidivism, obsessive compulsion, and perverse white supremacism somehow combined into a body of work almost as influential on the twentieth century as Poe's was on the nineteenth.

If you think I'm exaggerating, just try googling "H. P. Lovecraft in popular culture" sometime.

Nor is his fan base entirely confined to readers of comics and pulp paperbacks with their caps on backwards (a proud group of human beings I'm happy to belong to: with the exception of the cap, that is). He recently joined the very select company of the Library of America, the only twentieth century horror writer as yet to do so (with the exception of the comparatively high culture Shirley Jackson):

H. P. Lovecraft. Tales, ed. Peter Straub (2005)

  • Lovecraft, H. P. Tales. Ed. Peter Straub. The Library of America, 155. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 2005.

One of the most pleasing of the recent tributes to his influence is Alan Moore's remarkable series of comics set in a slightly alternative America of the 1930s:

Jasen Burrows: Providence 3 Cover (2015)

  1. Neonomicon. Illustrated by Jacen Burrows. Rantoul, Illinois: Avatar Press, 2011.
  2. Providence: Act 1. Illustrated by Jacen Burrows. Issues #1-#4. Rantoul, Illinois: Avatar Press, 2017.
  3. Providence: Act 2. Illustrated by Jacen Burrows. Issues #5-#8. Rantoul, Illinois: Avatar Press, 2017.
  4. Providence: Act 3. Illustrated by Jacen Burrows. Issues #9-#12. Rantoul, Illinois: Avatar Press, 2017.

Jacen Burrows: Providence (2017)

Composed in his characteristic cross-genre mix of 'straight' comics and associated prose pieces and appendices, Moore's narrative described the odyssey of a hapless journalist over a thinly disguised version of Lovecraft's New England, resulting in the usual dire consequences for the entire human race.

Let's just say that these comics go some places that other fan fictions seldom do. They take a good look at Lovecraft's xenophobia and misognyny but pay full tribute to the power of his mythopoeic imagination, also. Not always to comforting effect, it should be said:

Jasen Burrows: Neonomicon 3 Cover (2010)

Beyond that, I have to say that I can't help but find amusing some of the Lovecraftian spoofs that seem to throng the web. This one, for instance, parodying those 'Sea-monkey' adverts so madly attractive to us as kids - when we were lucky enough to come across a stash of bona fide American comics, that is:

I guess that a lot of the 'shoggoth' references, and mentions of the "Great Old Ones' - not to mention 'Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos', or 'Shub-Niggurath, Goat with a Thousand Young', or even great Cthulhu him - it? - self, don't really make much sense to the uninitiate, but this one, at least, has a pleasing brevity to it:

And these are all very sound rules if you ever be unfortunate enough to find yourself caught in the midst of a Lovecraftian scenario:

On and on and on they go: Lovecraftian ice-cream flavours, carnival exhibitions, you name it, it's there:

But back to the serious world of bibliomania and book-collecting. I still remember the disquieting experience of asking in a Takapuna bookshop if they had any Lovecraft books, only to be solemnly informed by the shop assistant that not only did they not, but that she doubted the very existence of such books. I recall the slightly roguish expression on her face when I brought out the dread syllables 'Love-craft,' and the distinct impression she gave that I was on some kind of subterranean quest for porno. Fat chance in the New Zealand of the early 1970s!

To add insult to injury, I'd seen those very books in that same bookshop only a month or two before. So her denials were, to say the least, somewhat disingenuous. When I tell you that what I'd seen was something like this, though, you may understand better her reluctance to engage with such "literature." God bless pulp cover illustrators!

H. P. Lovecraft. The Lurking Fear and Other Stories (1973)

Never mind. In spite of the opposition of such petty minds, I eventually managed to assemble the six garish paperbacks which constituted the Master's collected horror fiction:
  1. Lovecraft, H. P. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. 1951. London: Panther, 1970.

  2. Lovecraft, H. P. At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels of Terror. 1966. London: Panther, 1973.

  3. Lovecraft, H. P. The Lurking Fear and Other Stories. 1964. London: Panther, 1973.

  4. Lovecraft, H. P. The Haunter of the Dark and Other Tales. 1964. London: Panther, 1970.

  5. Lovecraft, H. P. Dagon and Other Macabre Tales. 1967. London: Panther, 1973.

  6. Lovecraft, H. P. The Tomb and Other Tales. 1967. London: Panther, 1974.

If you looked carefully enough (I did), you'd observe that these six paperbacks actually constituted trimmed-down, British versions of the following three American hardbacks, all edited by by Lovecraft's most faithful disciple August Derleth, and published by Arkham House, the firm Derleth started to perpetuate the Master's work after his untimely death at the age of 47.

H. P. Lovecraft. The Dunwich Horror and Others (1963)

  1. Lovecraft, H. P. The Dunwich Horror and Others: The Best Supernatural Stories. Ed. August Derleth. Sauk City, Wisconsin: Arkham House, 1963.

  2. Lovecraft, H. P. At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels. Ed. August Derleth. Sauk City, Wisconsin: Arkham House, 1964.

  3. Lovecraft, H. P. Dagon and Other Macabre Tales. Ed. August Derleth. Sauk City, Wisconsin: Arkham House, 1965.

H. P. Lovecraft. Dagon and Other Macabre Tales (1965)

The first two collections of Lovecraft's work issued by Arkham House are now fabulously rare and valuable. Here they both are (I'm sorry to say, if you're wondering, that I don't own copies of either of them):

H. P. Lovecraft. The Outsider and Others (1939)

H. P. Lovecraft. Beyond the Wall of Sleep (1943)

Note the advertisement, above, for a book by Clark Ashton Smith, who, along with Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, constituted the 'Big Three' of the classic pulp magazine Weird Tales, which flourished - largely because of their work and that of other members of the Lovecraft group - throughout the early to mid-1930s.

There are innumerable modern editions of Lovecraft - many of them 'corrected' or at least re-edited by horror story polymath S. T. Joshi:

Leslie Boba: S. T. Joshi (1958- )

  1. Lovecraft, H. P. The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories. Ed. S. T. Joshi. 2001. Penguin Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2002.

  2. Lovecraft, H. P. The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories. Ed. S. T. Joshi. Penguin Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2005.

Ludwig Prinn: De Vermis Mysteriis (1809)

There's also a weird, less easily classifiable penumbra of works 'edited by' Lovecraft (this was indeed the main way he made his meager living), or 'based on' his manuscripts, or 'inspired by' his themes (particularly those embodied in the Cthulhu mythos). I have a small collection of these, but the field is a vast one:

August Derleth (1909-1971)

  1. Lovecraft, H. P., & August Derleth. The Shadow out of Time and Other Tales of Horror. London: Victor Gollancz, 1968.

  2. Lovecraft, H. P., & August Derleth. The Lurker at the Threshold: A Novel of the Macabre. 1945. London: Victor Gollancz, 1968.

  3. Lovecraft, H. P. & Others. Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Ed. August Derleth. 1975. London: Grafton, 1988.

Then there's the miscellaneous and secondary literature. There are collections of letters, of poetry (including his masterwork in this form, 'Fungi from Yuggoth'), of essays, of virtually anything you please. There are also numerous biographies and critical studies.

Of these I have only the first, somewhat dismissive one by L. Sprague de Camp, along with Colin Wilson's pioneering essay of 1962. Since then, however, the field has expanded vastly, due initially to the combined efforts of Derleth and Joshi, but now thanks largely to the incremental effect Academia tends to have on all such harmless pursuits:

L. Sprague de Camp: Lovecraft: A Biography (1975)

  1. De Camp, L. Sprague. Lovecraft: A Biography. 1975. London: New English Library, 1976.

  2. Wilson, Colin. The Strength to Dream: Literature and the Imagination. 1962. Abacus. London: Sphere Books Ltd., 1982.

Colin Wilson: The Strength to Dream (1962)

Monday, October 22, 2018

In Haunted Christchurch

NZSA (Canterbury)


We flew down for this event. Partly from curiosity, I must confess. I haven't really spent any time in Christchurch since the earthquake (though Bronwyn has), and I wanted to see what it was like.

Latimer Square by Night (Bronwyn Lloyd: 18/10/18)

Also, the hotel we were staying at, Rydges Latimer, was the scene of a haunting a few years ago, when Pakistani cricketer Haris Sohail had his bed shaken by an invisible something, so that constituted a bit of a temptation, too.

Church of St. Michael & All Angels (Bronwyn Lloyd: 18/10/18)

Nothing like that happened to us, but when we compared notes later, we realised that each of us had woken up during the night to find the room bathed with light from the clock radio beside the bed (this despite the fact that I'd covered it with a pillow before going to sleep). The pillow was certainly still there, in place, next morning - what can have led us to think that it had shifted, or been lifted off, by something or someone, in the middle of the night, then?

Keep out! (Bronwyn Lloyd: 18/10/18)

Perhaps these are mysteries we'll never understand. Valiant Christchurch is still in many ways a troubled city, though: witness many of the poems and stories read out at the awards ceremony.

Bell tower (Bronwyn Lloyd: 18/10/18)

Not only that, but it's also an intensely atmospheric one to wander around at night.

Tree (Bronwyn Lloyd: 18/10/18)

For the rest, we certainly had a great time while we were there, doing touristy things around the Square and the Avon, and then (next day) taking the bus out to Lyttelton and the Tannery.

Phone box (Bronwyn Lloyd: 18/10/18)

Bridge of Remembrance (Bronwyn Lloyd: 18/10/18)

It seemed strangely appropriate to have ended up in a restaurant called "Original Sin' - certainly their pasta was to die for!

Original Sin (Bronwyn Lloyd: 18/10/18)

The event itself was run very smoothly and professionally by the Canterbury branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. Every reader stuck to their allotted time - perhaps because the sheer splendour of the surroundings made us all determined to mind our p's and q's.

Reading from my novel (Bronwyn Lloyd: 18/10/18)

Here's the fiction shortlist:
NZSA Canterbury Heritage Book and Writing Awards 2018

Judge: Fiona Farrell
  1. Harvest by Christine Carrell (Nugget Stream Press 2017)
  2. The Life of De’Ath by Majella Cullinane (Steele Roberts Publishers, 2018)
  3. Finding by David Hill (Puffin 2018)
  4. This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman (Vintage Penguin Random House 2018)
  5. The Annotated Tree Worship: List of Topoi / Draft Research Portfolio by Jack Ross (Paper Table 2017)
  6. Gone to Pegasus by Tess Redgrave (Submarine Press 2018)
No fewer than 18 novels were entered for this part of the competition, apparently - along with 24 in the non-fictional book category, and many poems and essays. The judges certainly had their work cut out for them.

by the door (Bronwyn Lloyd: 18/10/18)

The winner was Dame Fiona Kidman's powerful novel about capital punishment in New Zealand, This Mortal Boy. The runner-up was David Hill's wonderful YA historical novel Finding. I was more than a little surprised, then, when Fiona Farrell announced that she'd insisted on creating a special category for my novel The Annotated Tree Worship, since (as she said) experimental fiction has a vital place in the literary firmament, too.

So here I am, looking proud as punch, with my 'Highly Commended' certificate. Thanks, Fiona:

Inside the church (Bronwyn Lloyd: 18/10/18)