Robert Aickman (1914–1981) was the son of an architect and the grandson of Victorian Gothic novelist Richard Marsh. A novelist, critic, editor, memoirist, literary agent and saviour of the British waterways, he is regularly acclaimed as the most singular, alarming and accomplished writer of supernatural fiction in the twentieth century.
‘Reading Robert Aickman is like watching a magician work, and very often I’m not even sure what the trick was. All I know is that he did it beautifully.’
The New Yorker
‘In Aickman’s fiction, peculiarity is intertwined with a drab twentieth-century realism that is very English and sometimes dryly funny. Think Philip Larkin, or Barbara Pym, gone eldritch.’
John Darnielle, author of Wolf in White Van
‘His name should be placed among the greats—Flannery O’Connor, Irwin Shaw, Raymond Carver . . . You will never forget the first Aickman story you read, nor be satisfied when you’ve read them all.’
‘Unsettling is a key description for Aickman’s writing, not merely in the sense of creating anxiety, but in the sense of undoing what has been settled: his stories unsettle the ideas you bring to them about how fictional reality and consensus reality should fit together . . . He was drawn to ghost stories because they provided him with conventions for unmaking the conventional world, but he was about as much of a traditional ghost story writer as Salvador Dalí was a typical designer of pocket watches.’