June 27th marks the exact centenary of the birth in 1914 of Robert Fordyce Aickman, who has been acclaimed, as many TeleRead readers will know by now, has been acclaimed as the best British writer of ghost and horror stories since M.R. James. Both publishers and enthusiasts are preparing their commemorations and celebrations in memory of this subtle, highly elusive, and often disturbing author.
Pride of place for the centenary, naturally enough, goes to the new republications of Aickman’s work, including the “four new editions in B format” of previously published story collections and reissue of his “extremely rare novels The Late Breakfasters and The Model” from Faber & Faber, already covered in TeleRead. Also, Tartarus Press, long the home of some beautiful but pricey and heavy hardback volumes of Aickman’s collected works, is releasing The River Runs Uphill: A Story of Success and Failure, Aickman’s second volume of autobiography, in a new edition which “reinstates material pruned by Aickman from the first edition, including the original ‘Chapter Ten: Kyogen’, which deals with his theatre criticism and other matters related to ‘life, death and the human heart’.” And Noose & Gibbet Publishing, the personal platform of sublime horror anthologist Johnny Mains, is bringing out its own Aickman: A Centenary Anthology, due for publication on this date, with essays and articles from modern horror luminaries such as T.E.D. Klein and John L. Probert, as well as original stories from the likes of Adam Nevill, Lynda E. Rucker, Simon Strantzas, and Mains himself.
Furthermore, as Faber & Faber points out, “Aickman is the centennial honouree at this year’s World Fantasy Convention to be held in Arlington, Virginia, from November 6-9 2014.” And, in another area dear to Aickman’s heart, Britain’s Inland Waterways Association, the canal conservation body he helped found, is marking his centenary in its own way with several events throughout the year, and a special article in its own Waterways magazine, available online in full here.
Aickman’s “collections of ‘strange stories’—superbly artful and elegant renditions of the uncanny tale—have garnered him a steadily growing literary reputation,” states Rosalie Parker in the foreword to The River Runs Uphill, available online in full here, although, she adds, “they were not always well-received at the time.” Now is the time if ever there was to put that right.