The Info List - Robert Holdstock

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Robert Paul Holdstock (2 August 1948 – 29 November 2009) was an English novelist and author best known for his works of Celtic, Nordic, Gothic and Pictish fantasy literature, predominantly in the fantasy subgenre of mythic fiction. Holdstock broke into print in 1968. His science fiction and fantasy works explore philosophical, psychological, anthropological, spiritual and woodland themes. He received three BSFA awards and won the World Fantasy Award in the category of Best Novel of 1985.


1 Biography 2 Writings 3 Critical reception 4 Book covers 5 Awards 6 Select bibliography 7 References 8 Sources 9 External links

Biography[edit] Robert Holdstock, the eldest of five children, was born in Hythe, Kent. His father, Robert Frank Holdstock, was a police officer and his mother, Kathleen Madeline Holdstock, was a nurse. At the age of seven Robert started attending Gillingham Grammar School in the Medway Towns. As a young adult he had jobs including banana boatman, construction worker and slate miner.[1] He also earned a Bachelor of Science from University College of North Wales, Bangor, with honours in applied Zoology (1967–1970). He continued his education, earning a Master of Science in Medical Zoology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 1971. He conducted research at the Medical Research Council in London from 1971 to 1974, while also doing part-time writing. He became a full-time writer during 1976 and lived out the rest of his life in North London.[2][3] He died in hospital at the age of 61, following his collapse with an E. coli infection on 18 November 2009.[4][5] Writings[edit]

Holdstock's fantasy novel Lavondyss with cover art by Alan Lee.

Robert Holdstock's first published story, "Pauper's Plot", appeared in the magazine New Worlds in 1968.[6] His first novel was a science fiction work, Eye Among the Blind, published in 1976.[7] During the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s Holdstock wrote many fantasy and science fiction novels along with a number of short stories, most of which were published under a pseudonym. Robert Holdstock's pseudonyms included Robert Faulcon, Chris Carlsen, Richard Kirk, Robert Black, Ken Blake, and Steven Eisler.[8] These included some adaptions of television scripts for 'TV-tie in' novelisations, including some for The Professionals.[9] During this same period he wrote "Space Wars, Worlds and Weapons", a series of essays about the various tropes of science fiction, interspersed with colour reproductions of space art. In 1980 Holdstock co-wrote Tour of the Universe with Malcolm Edwards. The rights were subsequently sold for a space shuttle simulation ride at the CN Tower, also called the Tour of the Universe. Holdstock wrote a novella, "The Dark Wheel", which was included with the best-selling computer game Elite in 1984. He also wrote The Emerald Forest, based on the film of the same title directed by John Boorman, and novelised episodes of the Granada Television series Bulman. Holdstock's breakthrough novel Mythago Wood was published in 1984. It began the Ryhope Wood series,[10] which continued until the appearance of Avilion in 2009. Between 2001 and 2007 Holdstock produced a trilogy of fantasy novels, the Merlin Codex, consisting of Celtika, The Iron Grail and The Broken Kings. Holdstock wrote, edited or contributed to a number of non-fiction works, including Alien Landscapes, Tour of the Universe, Horror: 100 Best Novels and an Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (not The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction). In 2013 a joint volume of poetry with Garry Kilworth (with whom he collaborated on the award-winning novella "The Ragthorn") was published by PS Publishing, Poems, Peoms and Other Atrocities.[11] Critical reception[edit] David Pringle described Eye Among the Blind, Holdstock's first science fiction novel, as a "dogged, detailed, somewhat slow-moving planetary mystery".[12] Ursula K. Le Guin called the same novel "As strong a treatment of a central theme of science fiction – alienness, and the relation of the human and the alien – as any I have read."[13] According to Michael D. C. Drout, Holdstock's Ryhope Wood series is a significant part of the fantasy genre, displaying the power and aesthetic standards of Tolkien’s fantasy without being either a "close imitation of" or a "reaction against" Tolkien. Drout considers Holdstock, along with Ursula K. Le Guin, a worthy inheritor of the fantasy tradition created by Tolkien.[14] Patrick Curry placed Holdstock in a quartet of noteworthy fantasy authors, alongside Le Guin, John Crowley and Marion Zimmer Bradley, for writing fantasy books that come close to Tolkien's breadth and depth of imagination, and "in some respects surpass Tolkien".[15] David Langford offers praise for most of Holdstock's work, but regarded Merlin's Wood less highly: "the overall narrative is flawed, distorted by its weight of undeserved loss and inaccessible healing".[16] Book covers[edit] The covers of Holdstock's books were produced by a variety of illustrators. The original UK and US covers of Mythago Wood were illustrated by Eddi Gornall and Christopher Zacharow, respectively; Geoff Taylor illustrated the original UK covers for the Mythago Wood sequels Lavondyss, The Bone Forest, The Hollowing and Merlin's Wood. Illustrators of subsequent covers and editions include Jim Burns, Tom Canty, John Howe, Alan Lee, John Jude Pallencar, Larry Rostant and Ron Walotsky. John Howe stated: "Holdstock is to me one of the best Celtic fantasy authors alive today."[17] Awards[edit]

The novella Mythago Wood won the BSFA Award for Best Short Story in 1981 along with the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella in 1982. The novel Mythago Wood won the BSFA Award for Best Novel in 1984 along with the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1985. Mythago Wood was published as part of the Masterpieces of Fantasy series by Easton Press, who describe themselves as releasing 'works of lasting meaning, beauty and importance.' Lavondyss won the BSFA Award for Best Novel in 1988. The Bone Forest was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in the category of Best Collection in 1992. The Ragthorn, coauthored with Garry Kilworth, won the World Fantasy Award in the category of Best Novella in 1992 and was nominated for the BSFA Award for Best Novel in 1994. The Fetch won the HOMer Award for horror novel in 1992. The Iron Grail won the Czech Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror Award in the category of Best Novel in 2002. La Forêt des Mythagos, i.e. the Mythago Wood collection, won the Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire in the category of Prix spécial in 2003. The short story “Scarrowfell” in Dans la vallée des statues & autres récits (Denoël, 2004), translated into French by Philippe Gindre, won the Imaginales award (Prix Imaginales) in the Short Story category in 2004. Celtika won the Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire in the Foreign Language Novel category in 2004.

Select bibliography[edit] Main article: Robert Holdstock bibliography Ryhope Wood series

Mythago Wood Lavondyss The Bone Forest, a novella and short story collection The Hollowing Merlin's Wood, a novel and two short stories (only published in the UK) Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn Avilion

Merlin Codex series

Celtika The Iron Grail The Broken Kings

Night Hunter series (as Robert Faulcon)

The Stalking The Talisman The Ghost Dance The Shrine The Hexing The Labyrinth

Other novels

Eye Among the Blind Earthwind Necromancer Where Time Winds Blow In the Valley of the Statues (short story collection) The Emerald Forest (film novelisation) The Fetch (also published under the title Unknown Regions) Ancient Echoes The Dark Wheel computer game novella included in Elite (video game)


^ Holdstock, Robert Eye Among the Blind (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1976), back flap. ^ Newman, Kim St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, ed. David Pringle (Detroit, MI: St. James Press, 1996), page 285. ^ Langford, David Supernatural Fiction Writers, Second Edition, Volume 1, ed. Richard Bleiler (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003), page 445. ^ "Locus Roundtable: Robert Holdstock." Locus Online: The Website of The Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Field. Web. 29 Nov. 2009. <"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 December 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2009. >. ^ http://robertholdstock.com/2009/11/rip-rob-holdstock/ ^ Moorcock, Michael Horror: The 100 Best Books, eds. Jones, Stephen and Newman, Kim (New York, NY: Carrol & Graf, 1998), page 326. ^ The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction, David Pringle (London: Grafton Books, 1990), page 111. ^ The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, editors John Clute and John Grant (New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1997), page 474. ^ Pixley, Andrew: The Professionals MkIV Viewing Notes, Network, 2016. [Paperback book included with Blu-ray release] ^ Langford, David Supernatural Fiction Writers, Second Edition, Volume 1, ed. Richard Bleiler (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003), page 446. ^ Kilworth, Garry; Holdstock, Robert (2013). Poems, Peoms and Other Atrocities. Stanza Press. PS Publishing. ISBN 978-1848636378. Retrieved 27 May 2015.  ^ The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction, David Pringle (London: Grafton, 1990), page 111. ^ The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction, David Pringle (London: Grafton, 1990), page 111. ^ Drout, Michael D.C. Of Sorcerers and Men: Tolkien and the Roots of Modern Fantasy Literature, China: Barnes & Noble Publishing, 2006, page 56. ^ Curry, Patrick Defending Middle-Earth: Tolkien: Myth and Modernity, New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin, 2004, pages 132–133 ^ Langford, David Supernatural Fiction Writers, Second Edition, Volume 1, ed. Richard Bleiler (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003), page 450. ^ Jude, Dick Fantasy Art Masters: The Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Artists and How They Work, London: HarperCollins, 1999, page 43.


Clute, John (1997). The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1st ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-19869-5.  Curry, Patrick (2004). Defending Middle Earth" Tolkien" Myth and Modernity (1st ed.). New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-618-47885-9.  Drout, Michael (2006). Of Sorcerers and Men: Tolkien and the Roots of Modern Fantasy Literature (1st ed.). China: Barnes & Noble. ISBN 978-0-7607-8523-2.  Holdstock, Robert (1976). Eye Among the Blind (1st ed.). New York: Doubleday & Company. ISBN 978-0-385-12681-6.  Holdstock, Robert (1984). Mythago Wood (1st ed.). London: Victor Gollancz. ISBN 0-575-03496-3.  Holdstock, Robert (1988). Lavondyss (1st ed.). London: Victor Gollancz. ISBN 0-575-04374-1.  Holdstock, Robert (1991). The Bone Forest (1st ed.). London: Grafton. ISBN 978-0-246-13833-0.  Holdstock, Robert (1993). The Hollowing (1st ed.). London: Harper Collins. ISBN 0-00-224201-X.  Holdstock, Robert (1994). Merlin's Wood (1st ed.). London: Harper Collins. ISBN 0-00-224603-1.  Holdstock, Robert (1997). Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn (1st ed.). United States: Roc Books. ISBN 978-0-451-45570-3.  Jones, Stephen (1998). Horror: The 100 Best Books (2nd ed.). New York: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 978-0-7867-0552-8.  Jude, Dick (1999). Fantasy Art Masters: The Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Artists Show How They Work (1st ed.). London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-8230-1636-6.  Langford, David (2003). Supernatural Fiction Writers (2nd ed.). Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 978-0-684-31251-4.  Morse, Donald E.; Matolcsy, Kalman (2011). The Mythic Fantasy of Robert Holdstock: Critical Essays on the Fiction (1st ed.). London: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-4942-2.  Newman, Kim (1996). St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers (1st ed.). Detroit: St. James Press. ISBN 978-1-55862-205-0.  Pringle, David (1990). The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction (1st ed.). London: Grafton Books. ISBN 978-0-88687-536-7. 

External links[edit]

Bibliography at SciFan Robert Holdstock page at Gollancz Imprint's publishing group, Orion Publishing The Science Fiction Weekly Interview with Robert Holdstock at the Wayback Machine (archived 17 January 2009) Robert Holdstock at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database Robert Holdstock at Fantasy Literature Robert Holdstock's website

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Works by Robert Holdstock – (bibliography)

Short Stories

"Pauper's Plot" (1969) "Microcosm" (1972) "Ash, Ash" (1974) "The Graveyard Cross" (1976) "Magic Man" (1976) "On the Inside" (1976) "The Time Beyond Age" (1976) "Travellers" (1976) "A Small Event" (1977) "The Touch of a Vanished Hand" (1977) "In the Valley of the Statues" (1979) "Earth And Stone" (1980) "Where Time Winds Blow" (1981) "The Phantom of the Valley" (1981) "Manchanged" (1981) "Walking on the Shores of Time" (1981) "The Boy who Jumped Rapids" (1984) "Thorn" (1986) "Scarrowfell" (1987) "The Shapechanger" (1989) "Time of the Tree" (1989) "The Bone Forest" (1991) "The Ragthorn" (1991) "The Silvering" (1992) "Infantasm" (1995)


Mythago Wood (1981) Elite: The Dark Wheel (1984)

Ryhope Wood Series

Mythago Wood (1984) Lavondyss (1988) The Bone Forest (1991) The Hollowing (1993) Merlin's Wood (1994) Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn (1997) Avilion (2009)

Merlin Codex Series

Celtika (2001) The Iron Grail (2002) The Broken Kings (2007)

Francoise Jeury Series

Necromancer (1978) The Fetch (1991)

The Raven Series

Swordsmistress of Chaos (1978) A Time of Ghosts (volume two) (1978) Lords of the Shadows (volume four) (1979)

The Professionals Series

Cry Wolf (1981) Operation Susie (1982) The Untouchables (1982) You'll be All Right (1982)

Night Hunter Series

The Stalking (1983) The Talisman (1983) The Ghost Dance (1984) The Shrine (1984) The Hexing (1984) The Labyrinth (1988)

Berserker Series

Shadow of the Wolf (1977) The Bull Chief (1979) The Horned Warrior (1979)

Novelizations of films

Legend of the Werewolf (1976) The Satanists (1977) The Emerald Forest (1985)

Other Novels

Eye Among the Blind (1976) Earthwind (1977) Where Time Winds Blow (1982) Ancient Echoes (1996)

Edited Anthologies

Stars of Albion (1979)

Other Edens Series

Other Edens (1987) Other Edens II (1988) Other Edens III (1989)


Alien Landscapes (1979) Space Wars: Worlds & Weapons (1979) Alien World: The Complete Illustrated Guide Tour of the Universe: The Journey of a Lifetime (1980) Magician: The Lost Journals of the Magus Geoffrey Carlyle (1982) Realms of Fantasy (1983) Lost Realms (1985)

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World Fantasy Award—Long Fiction


The Fire When It Comes by Parke Godwin (1982) Confess the Seasons by Charles L. Grant (1983, tie) Beyond Any Measure by Karl Edward Wagner (1983, tie) Black Air by Kim Stanley Robinson (1984) The Unconquered Country by Geoff Ryman (1985) Nadelman's God by T.E.D. Klein (1986) Hatrack River by Orson Scott Card (1987) Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight by Ursula K. Le Guin (1988) The Skin Trade by George R. R. Martin (1989) "Great Work of Time" by John Crowley (1990) Bones by Pat Murphy (1991) The Ragthorn by Robert Holdstock and Garry Kilworth (1992) The Ghost Village by Peter Straub (1993) Under the Crust by Terry Lamsley (1994) Last Summer at Mars Hill by Elizabeth Hand (1995) Radio Waves by Michael Swanwick (1996) A City in Winter by Mark Helprin (1997) Streetcar Dreams by Richard Bowes (1998) The Summer Isles by Ian R. MacLeod (1999) The Transformation of Martin Lake by Jeff VanderMeer (2000, tie) Sky Eyes by Laurel Winter (2000, tie)


The Man on the Ceiling by Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem (2001) The Bird Catcher by S.P. Somtow (2002) The Library by Zoran Živković (2003) A Crowd of Bone by Greer Gilman (2004) The Growlimb by Michael Shea (2005) Voluntary Committal by Joe Hill (2006) Botch Town by Jeffrey Ford (2007) Illyria by Elizabeth Hand (2008) If Angels Fight by Richard Bowes (2009) Sea-Hearts by Margo Lanagan (2010) The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand (2011) A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong by K. J. Parker (2012) Let Maps to Others by K. J. Parker (2013) Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (2014) We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory (2015) The Unlicensed Magician by Kelly Barnhill (2016) The Dream-Quest of Vellit Boe, by Kij Johnson (2017)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 36919685 LCCN: n79059843 ISNI: 0000 0001 1758 1452 GND: 109772091 SUDOC: 02692367X BNF: cb11907655g (data) BIBSYS: 13011258 NKC: jn1999000