Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Quiller-Couch, [Sir] Arthur

(1863-1944) UK poet, novelist and critic, knighted in 1910 for his political services, and Professor of English Literature at Cambridge from 1912. He is perhaps best-known as editor of The Oxford Book of English Verse (1900). In his day he was more famous simply as Q. Born in Cornwall, descended from a notable local family – both his father, Richard Quiller-Couch (1816-1863) and grandfather, Jonathan Couch (1789-1870), were naturalists, doctors and antiquarians, well known for their collections of local Legends – Q spent much of his early life there, and drew on his knowledge of legends and Folklore in many of his stories. A few of his Ghost Stories are still regularly reprinted, especially "The Roll-Call of the Reef" (1895 The Idler; in Wandering Heath: Stories, Studies and Sketches coll 1895) and "A Pair of Hands" (1898 Cornish Magazine; in Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts: A Book of Stories coll 1900). These two volumes contain most of Q's Supernatural Fiction. He wrote many other ghost stories, but should be better known for his folkloristic fiction, which contains much local colour and atmosphere and, in keeping with many Folktales, is often humorous. These are found in several collections, notably Noughts and Crosses: Stories, Studies and Sketches (coll 1891), "I Saw Three Ships" and Other Winter's Tales (coll 1892), The Laird's Luck and Other Fireside Tales (coll 1901), The White Wolf and Other Fireside Tales (coll 1902) – which contains mostly nautical fantasies – Two Sides of the Face: Midwinter Tales (coll 1903) and Shakespeare's Christmas (coll 1905). No specific collection of Q's supernatural fiction exists, but Selected Stories (coll 1921) and Q's Mystery Stories (coll 1937) are representative. [MA]

other works: Fairy Tales Far and Near Re-told (coll 1895) illus H R Millar; The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales from the Old French Retold (coll 1910) illus Edmund Dulac; In Powder and Crinoline (coll 1913) illus Kay Nielsen; Foe-Farrell (1918), a Jekyll and Hyde type novel verging on Identity Exchange – see also Double; Castle Dor (1962), completed by Daphne Du Maurier.

[Sir] Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch


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.