Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Armstrong, Martin

(1882-1974) UK writer, poet, critic and broadcaster; stepfather of Joan Aiken. MA was a consummate stylist and a lover of the English language. His stories are polished and professional. Raised on the border of Northumbria with Scotland, in a region rife with Legends, MA was fascinated by Myth and fantasy while remaining a sceptic and rationalist – even though he once lived in a haunted house (see Haunted Dwellings). A later house provided the setting for his ingenious Ghost Story "The Pipe Smoker". Probably his best story is "Presence of Mind", in which a man with an overzealous imagination progressively creates a fantasy world about him. Both these stories come from General Buntop's Miracle (coll 1934), probably MA's most rewarding collection, but other good fantasies can be found in The Bazaar (coll 1924), The Fiery Dive (coll 1929) and A Case of Conscience (coll 1937). This last includes "Mr Porter Transported" an amusing story about a man's sudden ability to fly (see Talents) and is reminiscent of Mervyn Peake's Mr Pye. Generally his stories deal with a sudden and uncontrollable sense of Wrongness, though the rational mind never submits. [MA]

Martin Donisthorpe Armstrong


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.