Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Jepson, Edgar

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(1863-1938) UK writer, a close friend of the poet Ernest Dowson (1867-1900) and thus on the fringe of the English Decadent Movement (> Decadence). This spirit is echoed in The Horned Shepherd (1904), a calculatedly heretical fantasy in which an avatar of the Lord of the Forest (i.e., Pan) must meet his appointed fate regardless of the intrusions of an intolerant churchman. This book stands in stark contrast to all EJ's subsequent writings, its manner and private publication by "The Sons of the Vine" suggesting a seriousness of which there is no hint in his autobiography, Memoirs of a Victorian (1933); in adapting ideas from Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough to the depiction of clandestine pagan Fertility cults surviving within the bounds of Christendom, it anticipates the central thesis of The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921) by Margaret Murray (1863-1963). One of the short stories in Captain Sentimental and Other Stories (coll 1911), "The Resurgent Mysteries", similarly sets out – in a somewhat less sensational form – the thesis which became central to Murray's The Divine King in England (1954).

The Mystery of the Myrtles (1909) is a thriller in which Human Sacrifices are offered to dangerous Elementals in a magically protected suburban garden. It was followed by the similar but more striking No. 19 (1910; vt The Garden at Number 19 US), in which an ambitious suburban Magus succeeds in summoning Pan but cannot obtain his polite cooperation. Like the novel which presumably inspired these two conscientiously unsympathetic accounts of society occultism – W Somerset Maugham's The Magician (1908) – No. 19 is included in the list of recommended reading in Aleister Crowley's Magick in Theory and Practice (1929).

EJ spent the greater part of his career producing dull detective stories and frothy comedies; one later exception is The Moon Gods (1930), a lively Lost-Race novel. EJ translated several novels from the French, including The Man with the Black Feather (trans 1912) by Gaston Leroux. His son Selwyn Jepson (1899-1989) wrote numerous crime thrillers. [BS]

Other work: The Edge of the Empire (coll 1899) with David Eames.

Edgar Jepson


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.