(1906-1988) US writer and popular historian; he wrote historical novels and, later, numerous books about the US West. Although his early historical novels were well received – the best-known, The Harp and the Blade (1941), has some fantasy elements – JMM is remembered almost solely for Silverlock (1949), a Recursive Fantasy that centres on a Picaresque voyage by a shipwrecked protagonist through the "Commonwealth" (of literature), where he encounters numerous characters and situations from world literature and Mythology – the Ass of Apuleius, Beowulf, the Green Knight, Robin Hood, Dante's Hell, Friar John from Rabelais, and many more. The novel is light and pleasant, rather in the manner of Christopher Morley.
Silverlock divides the two halves of JMM's career: before it he was almost exclusively an historical novelist; afterwards he devoted himself largely to popular history – although another fantasy was The Moon's Fire-Eating Daughter (1981), a picaresque caper, traversing Time rather than geography, whose hapless hero (at the behest of Aphrodite) meets writers and makers throughout history. [GF]
further reading: A Silverlock Companion (1988) ed Fred Lerner (1945- ), an exegesis of the novel, plus bibliography by James A Crane.
John Myers Myers