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The Algernon Blackwood BBC Radio Collection

Written by: Algernon Blackwood
Narrated by: Philip Madoc, Malcolm Hayes, Christopher Neame, Roger Allam, Fraser Kerr, Eric Deacon, Philip Skale, Algernon Blackwood, full cast
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Publisher's Summary

A collection of strange and fantastical tales from Algernon Blackwood, plus bonus documentaries

Described by H P Lovecraft as 'the one absolute and unquestioned master of weird atmosphere', Algernon Blackwood (CBE) was the acclaimed and prolific author of numerous ghost stories and horror tales. Throughout his lifetime, he wrote 14 novels, several children's books, a number of plays, and over 200 short stories.

This anthology opens with a selection of stories featuring his most influential character, occult detective Dr John Silence. The inspiration for the famous horror movie Cat People, 'Ancient Sorceries' (read by Philip Madoc), sees a timid tourist becoming enchanted by a sleepy French town whose residents have an oddly feline manner. It is followed by four chilling dramatisations starring Malcolm Hayes as Silence. In The Nemesis of Fire, the psychic doctor investigates eldritch events at an English manor house; while Secret Worship is a chilling tale of haunting and evil in a Bavarian forest. A wilderness trip turns terrifying in The Camp of the Dog, and in The Empty Sleeve, a virtuoso violinist's desire for a rare instrument has dire consequences.

Next up are three gripping standalone dramas: The Decoy (starring George Baker and Susan Jameson); Keeping His Promise (starring Eric Deacon and Christopher Neame) and The Human Chord (starring Philip Skale).

Also included is Violet Pearn's captivating fantasy play The Starlight Express, adapted from Blackwood's imaginative children's novel A Prisoner in Fairyland and starring Denis Dowling, Patrick Barr and Cecile Chavreau. This is followed by The Willows, read by Roger Allam: a claustrophobic tale of suspense and terror, as two companions camp on a remote island and become convinced they see a body in the water.

Three eerie supernatural stories are narrated by Blackwood himself in long-lost gems from the BBC Archive. They centre around mysterious encounters with a depressed Englishwoman ('The Occupant of the Room'), a man who was frightened to death ('The Woman's Ghost Story'), and the spectral presence of a town ('The Destruction of Smith'), and are followed by a quartet of strange stories ('Algernon Blackwood Tells a Strange Story').

To conclude, two bonus documentary programmes, presented by Blackwood, delve into his life and career. The Genesis of Ideas sees him revealing the sources of his material, while the reflective On Being Eighty finds him looking back on his many years of experience and experiment.

Written by Algernon Blackwood.

First published 1906 ('Keeping His Promise'), 1907 ('The Willows', 'The Woman's Ghost Story'), 1908 ('Ancient Sorceries', 'The Nemesis of Fire', 'Secret Worship', 'The Camp of the Dog'), 1910 ('The Human Chord'), 1911 ('The Empty Sleeve'), 1912 ('The Destruction of Smith'), 1916 ('The Starlight Express'), 1917 ('The Occupant of the Room'), 1921 ('The Decoy'), 1948 ('A Japanese Literary Cocktail')

Special thanks to Keith Wickham for sourcing audio files.

Contents List

Ancient Sorceries

The Nemesis of Fire

Secret Worship

The Camp of the Dog

The Empty Sleeve

The Decoy

Keeping His Promise

The Human Chord

The Starlight Express

The Willows

The Occupant of the Room

The Woman's Ghost Story

The Destruction of Smith

Algernon Blackwood Tells a Strange Story

The Genesis of Ideas

On Being Eighty

Content Note: Contains some dated references that reflect the language and attitudes of the time.

©2023 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2023 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

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