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Shocks! by Algernon Blackwood first edition 1935

Shocks! by Algernon Blackwood first edition 1935


London: Grayson & Grayson, 1935


8vo., black publisher’s cloth lettered in gilt along backstrip; preserved in the rare and genuinely superb dust jacket, featuring a man surrounded by ghosts, and a sinister figure in the window along the spine; pp. [viii], 9-300, [ii]; title featuring publisher’s rose device; a wonderful copy, mildly spotted to outer edge and ffep, with some light offsetting to the first couple of pages; spine tips very mildly pushed; the jacket in superior condition, with a couple of small nicks and chips to edges, particularly to foot of spine; one small hole to rear fold; slightly larger chip to lower panel, running to two closed tears; marginal rubbing and dirtying to the lower panel; very good, still, and unusual in such condition; housed in a custom-made leather-backed clamshell case in cream cloth, with contrasting black leather label gilt to spine. 


First edition. A rare work on the supernatural by Blackwood, who here presents a collection of stories on the theme of the strange and uncanny. As well as the title story, 14 other tales feature, including such as ‘The Man who Lived Backwards’, ‘Elsewhere and Otherwise’ and ‘Hands of Death’. 


Born on the 14th March 1869, Blackwood spent much of his early childhood under the influence of his father’s narrow religious ideas, but became influenced by Buddhism and other eastern Philosophies, and when he moved to Canada towards the end of the century in 1891, he became a founding member of the Toronto Theosophical Society. It was not until he was in his late thirties that he first began writing ghost stories, but they became increasingly popular, and he has since become one of the most prolific writers of the genre, producing 14 novels along with a series of children’s books and plays, and of course his numerous short story collections. Blackwood was an active member of The Ghost Club, a society founded in 1862 with paranormal investigation as its aim, and an organisation which is still active today. He was also a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, themes of which can also be found in many of his writings. Of his own work, Blackwood penned to a friend: “My fundamental interest, I suppose, is signs and proofs of other powers that lie hidden in us all; the extension, in other words, of human faculty…many of my stories, therefore, deal with extension of consciousness; speculative and imaginative treatment of possibilities outside our normal range of consciousness” 


Shocks! was the last short story collection to be printed in Blackwood’s lifetime. It features strange figures peering from windows, with many of the stories incorporating autobiographical elements (he did indeed return penniless from Canada, as described in one of the tales). This collection provides fascinating insight into the mind of a much-loved supernatural fiction writer and, as H. P. Lovecraft once wrote, “the one absolute master of weird  atmosphere”.  


A stunning copy. 

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