UK Archives | The Short Story Project

Mary Shelley  (born Godwin) is an English writer, playwright, essayist and biographer, best known for her gothic novel “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus” (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary was born in London, England, in the family of a famous feminist, teacher and writer Mary Wollstonecraft and no less famous liberal philosopher, anarchist journalist and atheist William Godwin. Her mother died during childbirth, and her father, who had to take care of Mary and her half-sister Fanny Imlay, soon married again, with her neighbor Mary Jane Clairmont. Under his leadership, Mary received a magnificent education, which was rare for the girls of that time. In 1822, her son, Percy Shelley the elder drowned when his sailing boat crashed during a storm near Viareggio. A year later, Mary returned to England and since then has devoted herself to raising her son and career as a professional writer. The last decade of her life was overshadowed by a serious illness.

Arthur Machen was a Welsh author of the 1890s and early 20th century. Born in the family of a provincial priest. In 1874, he entered a local school, but due to lack of funds, his parents were forced to take him from there. Since 1881 he began to engage in literary activity. His first publication was the translation of Heptameron by Margarita of Navarre. The original works of Machen were influenced by the English Neo-Romanticism. His first major success was the publication of the novel The Great God Pan. It was published in 1894 by John Lane in the noted Keynotes Series, which was part of the growing aesthetic movement of the time. This work, which aroused violent outrage of the conservative public, was instantly sold out, as did the second edition. Following this book, Machen published his second novel, The Three Impostors, in 1895, consisting of short stories whose stories are intertwined in a whimsical way. Machen’s literary significance is substantial; his stories have been translated into many languages and reprinted in short story anthologies countless times.

One of the prominent English Romantic poets, George Gordon Byron, known as Lord Byron (1788-1824), also wrote in prose. “Fragment of a Novel,” for example, was first published in 1819 in “Mazeppa,” a volume of poems and short stories, and influenced the writing of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” as well as English vampire literature. Born to a family of the aristocracy, social criticism on his life of debauchery led Lord Byron to move to Italy, where he became acquainted with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and author Mary Shelley. Among his notable works of poetry is the epic poem “Don Juan,” written over a period of six years. As a supporter of the Greek liberation movement against the Turks, he arrived in Greece. Lord Byron died of Malaria in Mesolongi, Greece, at the age of 36. His body was transferred to England and was buried there.

“A very small child, and very untreated.” This is how Charles Dickens described himself as a child. Dickens was born in Victorian England in 1812 to a large, wealthy family. At the age of twelve, the family was imprisoned in a prison for families in debt. Young Dickens was sent to work in a factory to help and free his family. This childhood experience had a great influence on his future writings. As an adult, he became a journalist and continued to do so while writing and publishing his books. His debut novel, The Pickwick Papers, which was published in 1836 upon his marriage to Catherine Hogarth, excelled in unusual wit. Dickens and his wife had ten children, and while taking care of their young, Dickens’ most famous books were written and published, such as Oliver Twist and David Copperfield, which were known for their realistic, sensitive and humoristic style. Dickens is one of the most famous authors in the history of literature, and his writings have won dozens of adaptations for theater, film and television. In 1865 Dickens and his then partner, actress Ellen Ternan, were involved in a train accident, however were not harmed. Dickens died in 1870 and was buried in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey.

Montague Rhodes James, (1862-1936) was an English writer and scholar. He used the publication name M.R. James, and was a noted mediaeval scholar & provost of King’s College, Cambridge and of Eton College. He’s best remembered for his ghost stories which are widely regarded as among the finest in English literature. One of James’ most important achievements was to redefine the ghost story for the new century by dispensing with many of the formal Gothic trappings of his predecessors, replacing them with more realistic contemporary settings. Throughout the years, his stories were widely adapted to the stage, radio television and film.

David Constantine is a British writer, poet and translator. He was born in Salford in 1944, and worked for thirty years as a university teacher of German language and literature. He has published several volumes of poetry, most recently, Nine Fathom Deep (2009). He is a translator of Hölderlin, Brecht, Goethe, Kleist, Michaux and Jaccottet. In 2003 his translation of Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s Lighter than Air won the Corneliu M Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation. David Constantine has published four short story collections, The Shieling (2009) was shortlisted for the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Constantine’s story ‘Tea at the Midland’ won the BBC National Short Story Award 2010, and the collection, Tea at the Midland (2012), as a whole, won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2013. Constantine lives in Oxford where, for ten years, he edited Modern Poetry in Translation with his wife Helen (until 2011). David’s short story ‘In Another Country’ has been adapted into ’45 Years’ – a major film, directed by Andrew Haigh and starring Tom Courtenay & Charlotte Rampling. This film won two silver bear awards at the Berlin Film Festival, the Michael Powell Best British Film at Edinburgh, and the WFTV award for Best Performance (for Rampling). It has also been nominated for nine international others. He is also author of Fields of Fire: A Life of Sir William Hamilton, Davies, and a novel, The Life-Writer, which was published in 2015 alongside In Another Country: Selected Stories, to mark the release of ’45 Years’, the film, in the UK. The Life Writer was named one of The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2016.

Edith Nesbit was born in London in 1858. The death of her father when she was four and the continuing ill health of her sister meant that Nesbit had a transitory childhood, her family moving across Europe in search of healthy climates only to return to England for financial reasons. At 17 her family finally settled in London and aged 19, Nesbit met Hubert Bland, a political activist and writer. Seven months pregnant, she married Bland, though she did not immediately live with him, as Bland initially continued to live with his mother. Their marriage was a stormy one. Early on Nesbit discovered that another woman believed she was Hubert’s fiancee and had also borne him a child. A more serious blow came later when she discovered that her good friend, Alice Hoatson, was pregnant with Hubert’s child. She had previously agreed to adopt Hoatson’s child and allow Hoatson to live with her as their housekeeper. After she discovered the truth, they quarrelled violently, but her husband threatened to leave Edith if she disowned the baby and its mother. Hoatson remained with them as a housekeeper and secretary and became pregnant by Bland again 13 years later. Edith again adopted Hoatson’s child. In 1899 she had published The Adventures of the Treasure Seekers to great acclaim. It would become hugely influential in children’s literature as it moved the genre away from fantastical other worlds and contrived problems to issues in the real world, showing children as they are, not as they ought to be. In 1900 her son Fabian died suddenly from tonsillitis – the loss would have a deep emotional impact and numerous subsequent Edith Nesbit books were dedicated to his memory. She is often thought to be the first modern writer of children stories, though she continued to write for adults. She also continued her political involvement, lecturing at the newly founded London School of Economics. In 1914, having been going blind for many years and being supported entirely by Edith, Bland died. Three years later she married Thomas “the Skipper” Tucker, the ship’s engineer on the Woolwich Ferry. They would be together for the remainder of her life. Suffering from lung cancer Nesbit moved to New Romney, Kent. She died in 1924. Her husband carved her headstone, which remains in the churchyard of St Mary in the Marsh, where she is buried. She continued to write until her death, publishing over forty-four novels in her lifetime.

Rodge Glass is a British writer. He was born in 1978 and is originally from Cheshire, though he mostly lived in Scotland between 1997 and 2012. Rodge is the product of an Orthodox Jewish Primary School, an 11+ All Boys Grammar School, a Co-Ed Private School, a Monk-sponsored Catholic College, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Strathclyde University and finally Glasgow University where he was tutored by Alasdair Gray, and began writing his first novel in 2002. Rodge Glass is the author of the novels No Fireworks (Faber, 2005) and Hope for Newborns (Faber, 2008), as well as Alasdair Gray: A Secretary’s Biography (Bloomsbury, 2008), which received a Somerset Maugham Award in 2009. He was co-author of the graphic novel Dougie’s War: A Soldier’s Story (Freight, 2010), which was nominated for several awards. His novel, Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs, was published in 2012. His latest book, the short stories collection LoveSexTravelMusik, was published by Freight Books in 2013 and was nominated for the International Frank O’Connor Award. Selected novels and short stories have been published in Danish, Hebrew, Italian, Serbian and Slovenian. Since 2013 he is a Reader in Literary Fiction at Edge Hill University and Fiction Editor at Freight Books.

Provocative, but elegant and keen on aesthetics and beauty; sharp, observant – and a hedonist: Oscar Wilde was born in Ireland in 1854, and became a pain in the neck of Victorian England. Wilde was convicted of “gross indecency” (meaning “homosexual activity”) and was sentenced to imprisonment and to hard labor. He is widely known for such works as the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray; the tale The Happy Prince; the play The Importance of Being Earnest; and the letter he has written while in prison, De Profundis (“from the depths”). Wilde died in 1900.

Mary de Morgan (1850-1907) was raised in an exceptional family in Victorian England, by mathematician Augustus de Morgan and spiritualist and social reformer Sophia de Morgan. She was a close friend of William Morris. The body of her work includes short stories, a novel, and essays, but she is mostly known as an author of literary fairy tales. Mary told her tales to her own nephews and nieces, as well as to children of friends and family; among them were the young Rudyard Kipling and his sister. She is unjustly unknown these days, and our hope is to change it.