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Gwyn, of Llanfrechfa Rectory. In his father's library he found also the Waverley Novels , a three-volume edition of the Glossary of Gothic Architecture , and an early volume of Tennyson. At the age of eleven, Machen boarded at Hereford Cathedral School , where he received an excellent classical education. Family poverty ruled out attendance at university, and Machen was sent to London, where he sat exams to attend medical school but failed to get in.
Machen, however, showed literary promise, publishing in a long poem "Eleusinia" on the subject of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Returning to London, he lived in relative poverty, attempting to work as a journalist, as a publisher's clerk, and as a children's tutor while writing in the evening and going on long rambling walks across London. In he published his second work, the pastiche The Anatomy of Tobacco , and secured work with the publisher and bookseller George Redway as a cataloguer and magazine editor.
Machen's translations in a spirited English style became standard ones for many years. In , the year his father died,  Machen married Amelia Amy Hogg, an unconventional music teacher with a passion for the theatre, who had literary friends in London's bohemian circles. Hogg had introduced Machen to the writer and occultist A. Waite , who was to become one of Machen's closest friends. Machen also made the acquaintance of other literary figures, such as M. Shiel and Edgar Jepson. Soon after his marriage, Machen began to receive a series of legacies from Scottish relatives that allowed him to gradually devote more time to writing.
Around Machen began to publish in literary magazines, writing stories influenced by the works of Robert Louis Stevenson , some of which used gothic or fantastic themes. This led to his first major success, The Great God Pan. It was published in by John Lane in the noted Keynotes Series, which was part of the growing aesthetic movement of the time. Machen's story was widely denounced for its sexual and horrific content and consequently sold well, going into a second edition.
Machen next produced The Three Impostors , a novel composed of a number of interwoven tales, in The novel and the stories within it were eventually to be regarded as among Machen's best works. However, following the scandal surrounding Oscar Wilde later that year, Machen's association with works of decadent horror made it difficult for him to find a publisher for new works. Thus, though he would write some of his greatest works over the next few years, some were published much later.
In , Machen's wife Amy died of cancer after a long period of illness.
This had a devastating effect on Machen. He only gradually recovered from his loss over the next year, partially through his close friendship with A. It was through Waite's influence that Machen joined at this time the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn , though Machen's interest in the organization was not lasting or very deep. Machen's recovery was further helped by his sudden change of career, becoming an actor in and a member of Frank Benson 's company of travelling players, a profession which took him round the country.
This led in to a second marriage, to Dorothie Purefoy Hudleston, which brought Machen much happiness.
Machen managed to find a publisher in for his earlier written work Hieroglyphics , an analysis of the nature of literature, which concluded that true literature must convey "ecstasy". In Machen's literary career began once more to flourish as the book The House of Souls collected his most notable works of the nineties and brought them to a new audience. He also published a satirical work, Dr Stiggins: His Views and Principles , generally considered one of his weakest works. Publishing his views in Lord Alfred Douglas 's The Academy , for which he wrote regularly, Machen concluded that the legends of the Grail actually were based on dim recollections of the rites of the Celtic Church.
In , The Hill of Dreams , generally considered Machen's masterpiece, was finally published, though it was not recognized much at the time. The next few years saw Machen continue with acting in various companies and with journalistic work, but he was finding it increasingly hard to earn a living and his legacies were long exhausted.
Machen was also attending literary gatherings such as the New Bohemians and the Square Club. In February his son Hilary was born, followed by a daughter Janet in The coming of war in saw Machen return to public prominence for the first time in twenty years due to the publication of "The Bowmen" and the subsequent publicity surrounding the " Angels of Mons " episode. He published a series of stories capitalizing on this success, most of which were morale-boosting propaganda, but the most notable, "The Great Return" and the novella The Terror , were more accomplished.
He also published a series of autobiographical articles during the war, later reprinted in book form as Far Off Things. During the war years Machen also met and championed the work of a fellow Welshman, Caradoc Evans. In general, though, Machen thoroughly disliked work at the newspaper, and it was only the need to earn money for his family which kept him at it.
The money came in useful, allowing him to move in to a bigger house with a garden, in St John's Wood , which became a noted location for literary gatherings attended by friends such as the painter Augustus John , D. Wyndham Lewis , and Jerome K. Machen's dismissal from the Evening News in came as a relief in one sense, though it caused financial problems. Machen, however, was recognized as a great Fleet Street character by his contemporaries, and he remained in demand as an essay writer for much of the twenties.
The year saw a revival in Machen's literary fortunes. Machen's works had now found a new audience and publishers in America, and a series of requests for republications of books started to come in. Another sign of his rising fortunes was the publication in of a collected edition of his works the "Caerleon Edition" and a bibliography.
That year also saw the publication of a recently completed second volume of autobiography, Things Near and Far —the third and final volume, The London Adventure , being published in Machen's earlier works suddenly started becoming much-sought-after collectors' items at this time, a position they have held ever since. In he issued a collection of bad reviews of his own work, with very little commentary, under the title Precious Balms.
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In this period of prosperity Machen's home saw many visitors and social gatherings, and Machen made new friends, such as Oliver Stonor. By the boom in republication was mostly over, and Machen's income dropped. Thomas Hardy is among the best-loved of the great English poets, perhaps drawing his great popularity from the elegaic tone of much of his finest verse and the universality of his subject matter: birth, childhood, love, marriage, age, and death.
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