Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Gawsworth, John

Pseudonym of UK poet, writer, bibliographer and anthologist (Terence Ian) Fytton Armstrong (1912-1970), who signed his real name for some work, but most of whose literary publications of genre interest were as JG. An avid collector, JG became close friends with many UK writers and, like August Derleth, became something of an author's champion through his Anthologies, Magazines and Small-Press ventures; he also compiled two bibliographical studies, Ten Contemporaries (1932) and Ten Contemporaries (Second Series) (1933), which concentrated on writers, like John Collier, Oliver Onions and M P Shiel, with whom he had become associated. With the exception of Strange Assembly: New Stories (anth 1932) as Fytton Armstrong and Full Score: Twenty Five Stories (anth 1933), his anthologies were anonymous. They include New Tales of Horror by Eminent Authors (anth 1934), Thrills, Crimes and Mysteries: A Specially Selected Collection of Sixty-Three Stories by Well-Known Writers (anth 1935), Thrills: Twenty Specially Selected New Stories of Crime, Mystery and Horror (anth 1936), Crimes, Creeps and Thrills (anth 1936), Masterpiece of Thrills (anth 1936) and Twenty Tales of Terror (anth 1945 India), the last compiled from earlier volumes. Over and above their general high quality, these large anthologies of Horror and Supernatural Fiction – ranging from quality Ghost Stories to mediocre Contes Cruels – are notable for the amount of original material they contain, much of this coming from authors of considerable interest, including Oswell Blakeston (?1907-?1985), Thomas Burke (1886-1945), Frederick Carter, Louis Golding, Edgar Jepson, Arthur Machen, Richard Middleton (1882-1911), Eimar O'Duffy (1893-1935), M P Shiel and E H Visiak – as well as JG himself, none of whose short stories have been collected separately. His early stories, like Above the River (1931 chap) and "Scylla and Charybdis" (1934) are wistful nature fantasies in the style of Algernon Blackwood, but his later "collaborations" with Shiel, Visiak and particularly Jepson ("The Shifting Growth" 1936) are more sinister and portentous, shadowing death.

JG was close to Shiel, editing The Best Short Stories of M.P. Shiel (coll 1948). In 1947, Shiel proclaimed JG the heir to the genuine Caribbean island of Redondo. After Shiel's death, JG proclaimed himself Juan I, and distributed dukedoms to his colleagues with enthusiasm. [MA/JC]

other works: Collected Poems (coll 1948).

other works as editor: The Pantomime Man (coll 1933) by Richard Middleton; The Best Stories of Thomas Burke (coll 1950).

further reading: "John Gawsworth" by Steve Eng in Night Cry Spring 1987; "John Gawsworth Unforgotten: A Tribute Anthology" compiled by Steve Eng in The Romantist #6-#8 (1986), a series of reminiscences; SFE.

Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong

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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.