Tag Archives: William Butler Yeats

Who is Real and Who is Made Up?

Angel of Mons Valse-Cover Art
Angel of Mons Valse-Cover Art

Readers have asked which characters are real people and which fictional creations. Everything portrayed in the novel is fiction. To discover the facts regarding the Angel of Mons I recommend the Angel of Mons by David Clarke. After you read his book you will see what I did with the facts to make them interesting in the novel.

Characters of Historical Significance

 Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Writer
William Butler Yeats, poet, Hierophant, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Minor Historical Characters

Members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Maude Gonne, Actress, political activist, mystic, subject of many of Yeats’s poems
Florence Farr, Actress, Praemonstratrix
Arthur Machen, writer, author of “The Bowmen”,
Alliester Crowley, mystic, magician
John Todhunter, author, playwright

 The Conan Doyle Circle

Lady Jean Doyle, wife of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Oliver Lodge, physicist, President, British Psychical Society
Miss Lily Symmons-Loder

The Churchill Circle

Lady Archibald Campbell, occultist, aunt of Winston Churchill
Phyllis Campbell, occultist, niece of Lady Campbell, author of an account of St. George’s appearance

Historical Characters, Military

General Horace Smith-Dorrian, in command of II Corps, British Expeditionary Force at Mons and Le Cateau
N.R. McMahon, “the musketry manic”, head of musketry and machine gun training before the war
Captain L.F. Ashburner commanding, 4th Royal Fuliliers
Captain Malcolm Leckie, RAMC. brother in-law of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Quartermaster Fitzpatrick
Lieutenant Maurice Dease, Vickers machine gun squad leader, first recipient of the Victoria Cross
Private Sidney Godley, also at Nimy Bridge, a first recipient of the Victoria Cross
World champion bicycle racers Goullet, France, and Bailey, Australia

Rather than hyperlink each of the names above, I suggest that you google any of the names you would like to learn more about. You can do the same for the three fictional characters in the next group.

Fictional Characters

Sherlock Holmes
St. George
Joan of Arc

Fictional Soldiers

The two Vickers machine gun crews


Lieutenant Dease, Privates Tommy Atkins, William Catchpole, Louis “Ziggy” Palmer, Paul Carmichael


Sergeant Henry Sanders, Privates Gabriel Jessop, Anthony Hardy, Howard Thomas Lang, Walter Sage, Carrew Nancarrew

You will meet them as you read, and see what each character does.

Why I love ”the wickedest man in the world”

Aliester Crowley was initiated into the Outer Order of the Golden Dawn in 1898 by the group’s leader, MacGregor Mathers. The ceremony took place at the Isis-Urania Temple in London, where Crowley took the magical name, “Frater Perdurabo”, meaning “Brother I shall endure to the end.”

A senior Golden Dawn member became his personal tutor in ceremonial magic and the ritual use of drugs. He performed the rituals of the Goetia,[ A year later he was expelled from the order, not enduing to the end, at least as a member. In the ultimate sense, he did continue dark practices for most of the rest of his life, establishing his own religious order and attracting many adherents.

In the history of the occult Aliester Crowley, was referred to as “the wickedest man in the world.”

For the purpose of my novel, The Angel of Mons, I am grateful that he belonged to the Order of the Golden Dawn. The book has a chapter on the reaction of the Order—William Butler Yeats, leader, and other prominent members–to St. George’s intervention in the Battle of Mons. I wanted a chapter in which the reaction of an occult order would be explosive. What better than to have a confrontation between Yeats, a practitioner of benign magic, and Crowley, the master of dark magic? Read the book (soon to be published) to see what happens.

Because Crowley fit so nicely with what I needed, I love the “wickedest man in the world.”

Why I disparaged and misrepresented the writer Arthur Machen

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.

I had the good fortune to discover that at one time the writer, Arthur Machen, had belonged to The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Yeats was the Order’s leader and head. Thus, a connection between Yeats and the Angel of Mons.

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.



William Butler Yeats and St. George, the Angel of Mons

Often, when beginning a book, especially an historical novel, an author has in mind hoping to have certain characters play a prominent role. Last week I wrote about the way I was able to insert Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into the novel. This week it is the poet William Butler Yeats. My first encounter with Yeats’ poetry was in a survey of modern British literature. I “discovered” a meaning beyond the poem’s surface when I studied, on my own, his poem “Leda and the Swan.” Then I took a graduate course in Yeats with the scholar Leonard Unger and did my Ph.D. dissertation under his direction in a facet of Yeats’ poetry and thought. So I dearly hoped to find a way to include him in the mystical novel, St. George, the Angel of Mons. It was my good fortune to find a connection between Yeats and the novel’s events. Yeats was for many years the leader of a branch of a mystical order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The actual origin of the legend of the Angel of Mon came about, not from the battlefield, but from a story written by Arthur Machen, a well-known writer of the time. As luck would have it, Machen was (at an earlier time) a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn. By juggling the chronology, making him a member at the time of the novel, I was able to involve Yeats in the story. When the book comes out you will discover a fantastic voyage between realms of reality that Yeats takes, an exciting, poetic, mystical read.

Question: If you read Yeats, what do you most appreciate about his poetry? Which of his poems do you best recall? Where do you rate his poetry among all the poets you have read?

Are you familiar with the lesser-known writer Arthur Machen? What is your view of his work? If you do not know his work, I think you will find it of interest, especially the story directly related to St. George, the Angel of Mons, The Bowmen and Other Legends of War. The work has recently been reprinted and is available on Amazon.