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.