J. M. Waterhouse, A naiad, or Hylas and the nymph, 1893
Welsh born writer Arthur Machen (1863-1947) is best known for his Gothic horror novels, but beyond this he believed that the humdrum visible world conceals a more mysterious and strange reality. Fairylore was just one element of his wide reading that he combined into this vision.
In his second volume of autobiography, Things Near and Far, published in 1923, Machen acknowledged the rational explanations for fairy belief and for the origins of fairies (later set out in detail by Lewis Spence in British Fairy Origins of 1946):
“I am well aware, of course, of the various explanations of the fairy mythology; the fairies are the gods of the heathen come down into the world: Diana becomes Titania. Or the fairies are a fantasy on the small dark people who dwelt in the land before the coming of the…
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