Read by David Shaw-Parker (Unabridged: 1hr 3mins)
Algernon Blackwood was born on 14th March 1869 in Shooter’s Hill, South East London, to a religious middle-class family. His mother was a widowed Duchess and his father was a Post Office administrator.
Blackwood was interested in the paranormal and the supernatural at an early age, and had a thirst for anything on Buddhism, other Oriental philosophies, mysticism and occultism. In his writings the weaving of the supernatural into his various works, from ghost stories and children’s stories to plays and long novels is clearly seen, his writings beautifully enriched by his long and diversified life experience.
After leaving university and visiting parts of Europe, mainly Switzerland, the young writer went to Canada and the United States where he took on jobs including work as a farmer, a bartender, a secretary, a journalist, a reporter, running a hotel and teaching the violin. He was voracious in meeting new people and absorbing new ideas.
In his late thirties, he returned to England where he published two of his supernatural stories in Pall Mall Magazine. As more of his highly entertaining stories were published so did his reputation and his bank balance. All those years of curiosity and experiences were starting to emerge from his writing.
In 1906, ‘The Empty House & Other Ghost Stories’ was published with tremendous success. Further volumes of short stories followed and with it a larger audience and bigger paydays. He also published children’s stories.
Blackwood also had ideas for novels and to explore on a larger canvas the paranormal world and the relationship between man and metaphysical powers including, in 1911, ‘The Centaur’.
With the outbreak of the First World War, Blackwood was assigned to British intelligence to write propaganda to support the war effort.
He was a prolific author with a quite staggering output which was also to include many plays. The exact number of his works is unknown as he would frequently write a story for a newspaper or periodical at very short notice.
In 1949, Blackwood was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his literary talents and his services during the First World War.
Algernon Blackwood died on 10th December 1951 after a series of strokes.
The Empty House is one of his most famous ghost stories. A man accompanies his adventurous aunt to a notorious haunted house. As the two exploring its’ dark, empty rooms, it becomes apparent that the house has not forgotten the earlier tragedy.