M.P. Shiel: The Middle Years 1897-1923

Harold Billings, Roger Beacham (rogerbeachampublishers.com), $29.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-9766044-4-0
Shiel, whose formidable output includes memorable supernatural horror shorts as well as the apocalyptic SF classic The Purple Cloud, is an open book in this second installment of Billings's exhaustive multivolume study of the man and his work that began with M.P. Shiel: A Biography of His Early Years. At the end of the 19th century, Shiel, who was well-connected in London literary circles, largely turned his back on writing short fiction to publish novels serially in popular periodicals. This approach often yielded overwritten potboilers but also The Last Miracle and Lord of the Sea, novels admired today for their imaginativeness as much as they are criticized for their ethnic stereotypes. Drawing on memoirs and letters, Billings shows Shiel's intensive writing schedule to be yet one more aspect of a life made chaotic by love affairs, socializing, and sloppy business deals. Although this book will be of interest primarily to fans of Shiel's fiction, it is a solid work of biographical reconstruction. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/2010
Release date: 11/01/2010
Paperback - 201 pages - 978-0-9766044-0-2
Hardcover - 201 pages - 978-0-9766044-1-9
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