Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
de Lint, Charles

 Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com

(1951-    ) Canadian musician and writer – born in the Netherlands to parents who emigrated to Canada when he was four months old – who began to publish work of genre interest with "The Fane of the Gray Rose" in Swords Against Darkness IV (anth 1979) ed Andrew J Offutt, and who has become the most significant, and almost certainly the most prolific, Canadian fantasy author. In early years he published several stories as by Wendelessen (at least once, probably by error, spelt Wendelssen); as Samuel M Key he has published three Horror novels, Angel of Darkness (1990), From a Whisper to a Scream (1992) and I'll Be Watching You (1994).

CDL's first book, released like several other short texts through his own Triskell Press, was The Oak King's Daughter (1979 chap), which began the loosely connected Tales of Cerin Songweaver sequence; further volumes, which with increasing proficiency articulated relationships between Story and the (Celtic) Music which evokes it, include A Pattern of Silver Strings: A Tale of Cerin Songweaver (1981 chap), Glass Eyes and Cotton Strings (1982 chap), In Mask and Motley (1983 chap), Laughter in the Leaves (1984 chap), The Badger in the Bag (1985 chap), The Harp of the Grey Rose (1979 as "The Fane of The Gray Rose"; exp 1985 US), And the Rafters Were Ringing (1986 chap) and The Lark in the Morning (1987 chap). After The Calendar of Trees (1984 chap) illus Donna Gordon, a long poem about Trees cast in an Anglo-Saxon Riddle mode, CDL published his first full-length book, The Riddle of the Wren (1984 US), a fantasy set mostly in a Secondary World though accessible from this world through the conventional Portal, and derivative of J R R Tolkien. CDL has since then generally eschewed full and untrammelled secondary-world settings. From Moonheart: A Romance (1984 US) onwards, most of CDL's novels have been Contemporary Fantasies, usually set in Ottawa (see City; Urban Fantasy) and other Ontario locations, into which mundanity are woven (see Crosshatch) Celtic-tinged Otherworlds (see Celtic Fantasy). Moonheart, along with some associated tales – Ascian in Rose (1987 chap US), Westlin Wind (1989 chap US), Ghostwood (1990 US) and Merlin Dreams in the Mondream Wood (1990 Pulphouse: 1992 chap), all four assembled as Spiritwalk (omni 1992 US) – is set in an Ottawa crosshatched into an otherworld itself intricately interpenetrated by fleshly manifestations of various mythological traditions (see Mythago). The novel, which involves complex interactions between its female protagonist and various Native American and Celtic mythagoes, is dominated by Tamson House, a large Edifice which surrounds a Garden at whose heart grows a version of the World-Tree; Tamson House serves as a Portal to and from a variety of otherworlds, and features also in all the tales assembled in Spiritwalk.

In Yarrow: An Autumn Tale (1986 US) the work-engendering Dreams of a fantasy writer from Ottawa are stolen by a vampiric dream-thief; she must consequently undertake a Quest, with some help from her friends, into the otherworld to gain back her creative juices. Jack, the Giant-Killer (1987 US) makes up part of Terri Windling's series of Twice-Told fairytales, and exposes Jacky Rowan (a female Jack from Ottawa) to adventures in Faerie, in all of which she enjoys a Trickster's expected success. Its sequel, Drink Down the Moon (1990), is not part of Windling's series. Both volumes are assembled as Jack of Kinrowan (omni 1995). Greenmantle (1988), the last important book from CDL's early career, once again takes place in contemporary Ontario, this time crosshatched with a wild Forest that houses a "stagman" intermittently drawn into the mundane world by Music.

Prolific, and suffering a tendency to put nearly indistinguishable protagonists through storylines themselves often very similar, CDL has written weak books; but two novels of the early 1990s represent a growing sureness with his material. The Little Country (1991) complexly interweaves storylines set in a mundane Cornwall and in a turn-of-the-century Land-of-Fable version of the English county; these two Cornwalls, and the intricate plot which connects them, are comprehended (i.e., narrated) through the act of reading various texts (see Books) composed by the late William Dunthorn, author of The Hidden People (about a Wainscot race known as the Smalls), The Lost Music (in which music is seen to have engendered the Story of the world) and The Little Country (which tells the intersecting tale of Cornwall as a land of fable).

Memory and Dream (1994 US) is set in the imaginary City of Newford, which resembles Ottawa, and serves as the setting for several Urban-Fantasy tales. Uncle Dobbin's Parrot Fair (1987 IASFM; 1991 chap US), The Stone Drum (1989 chap), Ghosts of Wind and Shadow (1990 chap), Paperjack (1991 chap US) and Our Lady of the Harbour (1991 chap US) are all assembled with other work as Dreams Underfoot: The Newford Collection (omni 1993 US); and Mr Truepenny's Book Emporium and Gallery (1992 chap US), The Bone Woman (1992 chap), The Wishing Well (1993 chap US) and Coyote Stories (1993 chap), are all assembled with other work as The Ivory and the Horn: A Newford Collection (omni 1995 US). In the original novel a successful painter – whose personality and work CDL expertly expounds – turns out to be capable through her art of creating mythagoes, who have a cruelly mixed effect upon the world.

In the war that fantasy authors with fluent tongues almost invariably must wage to avoid the lures of easy consolations, CDL has lost and won some battles. But he is a potent teller of tales, and each fresh book brings a promise of newness. [JC]

other works: The Moon Is a Meadow: A Tale of Tam Tinkern (1980 chap); De Grijze Roose ["The Grey Rose"] (coll trans Johan Vanhecke et al 1983 Netherlands); World Fantasy Convention 1984: Fantasy, An International Genre Celebration (anth 1984); The Three Plusketeers and the Garden Slugs (1985 chap); Mulengro: A Romany Tale (1985 US), a Dark Fantasy; The Drowned Man's Reel (1988 chap); Wolf Moon (1988 US), Supernatural Fiction in which a harper hounds a Werewolf; Svaha (1989 US), sf; Berlin * (1989 chap US), set in the Shared-World Borderland sequence ed Terri Windling; Philip José Farmer's The Dungeon, #3: The Valley of Thunder * (1989 US) and #5: The Hidden City * (1990 US); The Fair in Emain Macha (1985 Space & Time #68; exp 1990 dos US); The Dreaming Place * (1990), a Byron Preiss project; Hedgework and Guessery (coll 1991 US); Café Purgatorium (coll 1991 US) with stories, separately, by Dana Anderson and Ray Garton; Into the Green (1993); The Wild Wood * (1994) in the Brian Froud's Faerielands series, illus Brian Froud.

Charles Henri Diederick Hoefsmit de Lint


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.