Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Baker, Frank

(1908-1983) UK writer and occasional actor whose fantasy novel The Birds (1936), which explores the avian manifestation of humankind's personal devils, was overshadowed by Daphne Du Maurier's novella with the same title; Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds (1963) can be seen as based on an amalgam of the two (see also Birds). FB's work contains some of the more memorable treatments and interpretations of common supernatural themes (see Supernatural Fiction). His most popular work during his lifetime was Miss Hargreaves (1940), in which an imaginary poetess comes into being. In such early works he considered the projection of the psyche; he firmly believed in the supernatural, and had direct experience of a Haunted Dwelling, but in his later books he chose to treat the supernatural within a religious/metaphysical framework. Although neither Mr Allenby Loses the Way (1945) nor Before I Go Hence (1946) is a Time Fantasy in the style of J B Priestley, both explore the continuity of self through Time as a possible separate existence to one's mortal self. Both, too, can be interpreted at a nonsupernatural level, even though the first seems provoked by the incursion of Faerie and the second considers the nature of eternity. Sweet Chariot (1942) depicts an Identity Exchange between a man and an Angel, and somewhat incoherently explores the relationship between mortal and Spirit.

Time is also central to FB's few short stories, the best of which were collected as Stories Strange and Sinister (coll 1983). Rather more mystical elements of the supernatural emerge in The Downs So Free (coll 1948) and Talk of the Devil (coll 1956), both of which include traditional Hauntings, though with untraditional explanations. [MA]

further reading: I Follow by Myself (1968), a revealing autobiography.

Frank Baker


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.