A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 
b.1865 d.1947
Novels Short Stories
Matthew Phipps Shiell was born in Montserrat in the West Indies in 1865. His family were Irish on his father's side and it is assumed that his mother was partly of African descent. Matthew was the first son after many daughters and his proud father crowned him King of Redonda, a small island off Montserrat, in 1880.
Educated in Britain, Shiel (who dropped the last 'l' of his surname) fell under the spell of Edgar Allen Poe around 1882, aged 17, and his writing was deeply affected by the American author. Poe's influence is apparent in Shiel's prose style, and in "Vaila" ("The House of Sounds") he appears to have re-written Poe's"The Fall of the House of Usher", while in "Xelucha", Shiel seems to draw heavily upon "Ligea". Shiel's early short stories are very luxuriant; his Prince Zaleski tales, for example, offer a detective far more decadent than that other drug-taking dilettante of the time, Sherlock Holmes.
As a young man Shiel lived in London and Paris, for a time moving in a circle that included Arthur Machen and Edgar Jepson. After around 1913, he does not appear to have written a great deal, but took up his pen again from 1923. At some point he made the decision to purge the excesses of his decadent, Poesque language and sought a leaner means of expression, which disappoints many of those who admire his early work. Indeed, he even re-wrote much of that early work when it was republished, pruning it of many adjectives and the more colourful flourishes of his style.
Although he had been popular in his day, Shiel was unrecognised in his last years, and only the efforts of the indefatigable John Gawsworth saved him from obscurity. In gratitude of Gawsworth's efforts Shiel passed on to him the Kingship of Redonda . . . but that is another story. . . .
Short Stories
Prince Zaleski, John Lane, 1895
(Includes three of the most decadent detective stories, not supernatural: The Race of Orven, The Stone of the Edmundsbury Monks, The S.S.)
ditto, Roberts Brothers (U.S.), 1895
ditto, Tartarus Press, 2002
(The Tartarus edition adds three more detective tales, the last of which is unfinished: The Murena Murder, The Missing Merchants, The Hargen Inheritance.)
Shapes in the Fire, John Lane, 1896
(Including: Xélucha: Merimée meets a femme fatal who he realises is the dead Xélucha. Vaila: A variation on Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, the narrator travels to his old friend's cursed family home in the far north and witnesses the detruction of the house and last of the family living there. Tulsah: A cursed man is doomed to repeat his crime as he is reincarnatedthrough time. Phorfor: The death of a friend and brother, and the malign influence of Elder Theodore.)
(Non supernatural stories are: "Maria in the Rose-bush". Also an essay: "Premier and Maker", and a poem: "The Serpent-Ship", "Phorfor".)
ditto, Roberts Brothers (U.S.), 1896
ditto, Tartarus Press, 2000
The Pale Ape, T. Werner Laurie, [1911]
(Including: The Pale Ape: The ape of the story turns out to be Sir Philip. Huguenin's Wife: A woman with strange powers over animals and a belief in transmigration after death returns from the dead. The House of Sounds: a revised version of Vaila, the main difference is that the frenetic language is toned down. The Spectre Ship: A prophecy that it is the dead to be afraid of, not the living. The Great King: The madness of Nebuchadnezzar and fraudulent and real supernatural events. The Bride: A jilted bride commits suicide but still insists on consumating their marriage.)
(Non-supernatural thrillers:"The Case of Euphemia Raphash", "Cummings King Monk", "A Bundle of Letters".)
ditto, Tartarus Press, 2006
Here Comes the Lady, The Richards Press, [1928]
(Including: The Tale of Henry and Rowena: The woman decides against a suicide pact but her dead lover returns and ends her life anyway. Other supernatural tales: "The Bell of St. Sépulcre", "The Primate of the Rose", "Dark Lot of One Saul".)
(Non-supernatural tales: "The Tale of Hugh and Agatha", "The Tale of Gaston and Mathilde", "No. 16 Brook Street", "The Tale of One in Two", "The Tale of Charley and Barbara", "The Corner in Cotton", "The Tale of Adam and Hannah.")
The Best Short Stories of M.P. Shiel, Gollancz, 1948
(Including: "The Race of Orven", "The Stone of the Edmundsbury Monks", "The S.S.", "Xélucha", "Vaila", "Tulsah", "Phorfor", "Huegenin's Wife", "Monk Wakes an Echo", "The Bride", "Dark Lot of One Saul", "The Primate of the Rose".)
Xélucha and Others, Arkham House (U.S.), 1975
(Including: "Xélucha", "The Primate of the Rose", "Dark Lot of One Saul", "The House of Sounds", "The Globe of Goldfish", "Many a Tear", "The Bride", "The Tale of Henry and Rowena", "The Bell of St. Sépulcre", "Huegenin's Wife", "The Pale Ape", "The Case of Euphemia Raphash".)
The Rajah's Sapphire, Ward, Lock & Bowden (London), 1896) with W.T. Stead
(A gem haunts those who own it.)
ditto, Highflyer Press, 1981 (Afterword by John D. Squires.)
The Purple Cloud, Chatto & Windus, 1901
(As Adam Jeffson reaches the North Pole a cloud of purple gas kills all the other inhabitants of the planet. He travels the world as its master, destroying entire cities, and deciding that mankind has only received what was its due. But he is not the only person left.)
ditto, Gollancz, 1929 (revised edition, 105 signed copies, half vellum)
ditto, Vanguard Press (U.S.), 1930 (revised )
ditto, Tartarus press, 2004 (original text, illustrated) 
This Above All, The Vanguard Press (U.S.), 1933
(A "fable of immortality".)
ditto, as Above All Else, Lloyd Cole, 1943
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Page updated 21st May 2004