Some Online Byways

Phillip Ellis

I have, since my late teens, held a so soft spot for the 1890s in my reading heart. Dowson, Lionel Johnson, Arthur Machen, Brennan and others, all have a place in that heart, and I want to use one of them, Arthur Machen, to illustrate some places online for those who love books and reading.

Arthur Machen

The first place that I want to stop by is among the most obvious: the Friends of Arthur Machen website. The internet is a great resource for hunting up literary societies, especially those dedicated to particular authors. In this case, the Friends is an active society that puts out annual publications, and has an annual general meeting. Other organisations are similar in scope, and there is a wide variety around.

Another place is Alan Gullette’s website¬†dedicated to weird literature. This has been a fixture of the internet for decades, and has a number of resources, and links to texts about a handful of authors. As a result, when looking for Machen-related material, it’s one of the first places to visit, and it is a fine example of a resource-rich site, especially one that has had the time to develop. Such sites may be rare, but they are always welcome, especially if dedicated to one authors, or a select group of related authors.

Speaking of resources, among the most famous of websites, for text, is Project Gutenberg. There is an Australian version as well; it, too, has books by Machen (you’ll need to scroll down the page). Sites like these are Meccas for book lovers; Project Gutenberg in particular has a variety of formats suitable for a variety of ebook readers.

A similar place, although less well known, is the Internet Archive. This site archives a variety of materials, not just texts (again available in a variety of formats), and there is a very good podcast about Machen, featuring Adrian Eckersley, that is of interest. Like other archives of material, of course, the variety of quality of the material can vary considerably, but it is a valuable resource for those who love reading.

Another excellent site, familiar to me, and a frequent stopping place, is the Trove website, hosted by the National Library of Australia. This is one of the many key sites available from Australian institutions; there are many more, especially about Australian authors, such as the APRIL website and the Austlit database. In a sense, that is, this is one of the strengths of Australian society and literary society, the wealth of resources about our writing that is available. It hosts and links to a variety of bits of information, websites, and pages, so it’s well worth looking into.

AbeBooks¬†is another place that’s good for things Machen-related. While it aggregates, as it were, a number of secondhand booksellers around the world, and while it can prove a little suspect when it comes to shipping costs, Abebooks is an invaluable place to hunt up secondhand books.

Speaking of which, there are any number of large and small bookshops online. Amazon and Borders are among the obvious ones, but an Australian bookshop that I like, partly from the fact that it is Australian, and partly from the fact that it has a range of materials listed, is Booktopia. While it may take longer to ship the books, because they are not kept in a warehouse, but sourced directly from the publishers, unlike some bookshops, they have a flat, standard fee for shipping in Australia, and I have found them to have good service values.

This, of course, is only a selective list of sites on the internet. There are plenty of others not covered, such as the entry on Arthur Machen in A Guide to Supernatural Fiction, a site notable not so much for its relatively standard listing of books but for its images of covers, dustjackets and title pages of the books. And there is, as well, the old standbye of Wikipedia, whose real value is for those items, topics and subjects of most interest to contemporary popular culture, if we may judge from certain aspects of its emphases. And there are plenty of other sites related to the genre, or to reading in general, that can be read and used.

But this is not the purpose, really, of this blog post. What I wanted to do was to illustrate, for one author, something of the range of materials and sites available online, with some of the results of a search for one author in the key sites. Similar searches, and similar results can be found for a great many authors, of course, and it always helps to have some skill in searching for resources online.

Of course, I would love to hear about the authors that you like to research online. Who do you like to read about? What else is available online? And what other resources do you recommend for bibliophiles? Feel free to consider posting lists and links to resources about other writers, and feel free to talk about more than one author at a time.