Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Harvey, William F

(1885-1937) UK writer and journalist who severely damaged his already weak health during WWI saving a comrade's life; thereafter he was a semi-invalid. He started writing before WWI, his first stories being collected in Midnight House and Other Tales (coll 1910); his two later collections of strange stories were The Beast with Five Fingers and Other Tales (coll 1928) and Moods and Tenses (coll 1933). WFH was a skilled writer of the psychological Ghost Story, of which "The Ankardyne Pew", arguably the best, shows the influence of M R James. The supernatural seldom enters his fiction overtly but ripples around the edges, suggesting madness. One of his earliest stories, "August Heat" tells of a man who sees his own gravestone and ends on the verge of madness awaiting his pre-ordained death. WFH's fascination with death, Fate and coincidence occurs again in "Across the Moors" and "Peter Levisham". His best-known story is "The Beast with Five Fingers" (1919 in The New Decameron; much rev 1928), filmed as The Beast with Five Fingers (1946), another Psychological Thriller in which a man is haunted by a disembodied hand. His best stories were collected as Midnight Tales (coll 1946; vt The Beast with Five Fingers 1947 US) ed Maurice Richardson, who provided a useful biographical introduction. A final collection of previously unpublished material was The Arm of Mrs Egan & Other Stories (coll 1952). WFH also wrote a children's book, Caprimulgus (1936), and an autobiographical account of his Quaker childhood, We Were Seven (1936). [MA]

William Fryer Harvey


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.