1. Born June 27, 1914, this English author died February 26, 1981.
2. In addition to being a writer, he was a committed conservationist and helped found the Inland Waterways Association, which seeks to preserve England’s old canals.
3. He was also a chair of the London Opera Society. (He got around, didn’t he?)
4. “But good God, sir, what about his writing?” you cry. (You know you do. Don’t deny it.) Well, Aickman is pretty much a cult figure, known primarily for his “strange stories.”
5. These “strange stories” are considered supernatural or horror tales, but the best of them (okay, this is opinion, not fact) are not so much supernatural or horrific as oddly disturbing – the kind of tale that insinuates itself into your subconscious and makes it feel as if it’s done something a little sinful somewhere.
6. His story “The Hospice” is (opinion again) one of those that rank among his best; it details a traveler’s unfortunate stay at a peculiar establishment and manages to create an atmosphere of terror though very little that is actually horrifying occurs.
7. He was awarded the World Fantasy Award in 1975 for his story “Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal,” which (if I remember correctly) is about a young girls’ encounter with vampirism.
8. Writer Neil Gaiman has said of Aickman, “Reading Robert Aickman is like watching a magician work, and very often I’m not even sure what the trick was. All I know is that he did it beautifully.” (I’m not going to argue with him.)
9. He was also a busy editor, his work in that area including eight volumes of the Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories. (Yes, he included some of his own work in this series.)
10. Four Aickman stories were filmed for European television and his story “The Swords” was adapted for the TV series The Hunger; there are also a few other filmed or stage adaptations of his work.