I am trying to find a sample of Machen’s signature. I am doing this just for research fun. Being a xerox of a badly worn cover, my document would be of no monetary value. But as a possibility, it is interesting to consider that Arthur Machen owned it. Naturally, Ralph Shirley’s pamphlet would have interested him. In it, he “demonstrates” that what Arthur Machen wrote was communicated to him telepathically from the battlefield. Therefore, it, along with many pages of “testimony” from soldiers who saw the angels, is evidence that St. George and his host of angels really did fight on the side of the British Expeditionary Force at the battle of Mons.
When I began planning the novel The Angel of Mons: A World War I Legend I wanted it to extend beyond the battlefield and present the effects of the apparition on the esoteric, spiritualist, occult, and psychical societies in England. I especially hoped to find a way to have William Butler Yeats be a major character.
The source of the legend of the Angel of Mons was not reports of sightings from soldiers on the battlefield. The source was a story, The Bowmen, Arthur Machen wrote and was published in the Evening Standard.
To work Machen into the novel I played several writer’s tricks. First, by 1914, when the war started, Machen was no longer a member of the Golden Dawn. So I switched the time of his membership and his standing in the Order. Secondly, to make the coincidence of his short story and his membership compelling, I introduced conflict and betrayal. Thus, I misrepresented and maligned a perfectly good writer. To see how I did this, read the book, soon to appear. Stay tuned.
This writer, Arthur Machen, known now to few is, more than anyone else, the “cause” of the legend of the Angel of Mons. There are many in Mons who claim that angels really did intercede in the battle of Mons. However, the facts as I, and the one other expert I know of on the subject, David Clarke (The Angel of Mons), are that the legend had its origin in a story that appeared in the newspaper, the Evening Standard. “The Bowmen”, by Arthur Machen, tells a story that came to be thought of as an account of angels stepping in to save an army from defeat. He does not name a time, a place, or who the combatants were. Word of mouth and other means led it to be thought of as a truthful account of what happened at Mons.
In a later time, Orson Wells and the Mercury Theater’s presentation of the War of the Worlds had a similar effect, though the response by the public and the repudiation of the truth of that event were immediate.
In fact, the legend of the Angel of Mons encouraged the British people, believing as they did, that God and the angels were on their side. More about Machen next week. My apologies to him. Do you know about Arthur Machen? There is a web site called Friends of Arthur Machen. Let us talk about him and his writings.
Amazon has a section called If You Like as a way to recommend related books. In that spirit I strongly recommend David Clarke’s The Angel of Mons: Phantom Soldiers and Ghostly Guardians. If you are interested in my novel, St. George andThe Angels of Mons. #theangelofmons Dr. Clarke’s book is the authoritative source of information about what really happened regarding the Angel of Mons. Phyllis Campbell and Arthur Machen are the primary sources for what developed as the World War I legend of the Angel of Mons. Clarke treats their writings (properly) as the origins of the legend appear in Clarke’s book. Naturally, the two characters inhabit the novel, though I slightly mangle history for the sake of plot. At the same time, I drew on history to make the events, outlandish as they are in the novel, make sense.