Friday, December 8, 2023

RIP Mark Samuels [by R.B. Russell]

We are very sorry to hear that the author Mark Samuels passed away peacefully in his sleep on the night of 2nd/3rd December, aged 56 (writes R B Russell on behalf of The Friends of Arthur Machen). We would like to pass on condolences to the family and friends of Mark, who will be known to many as the author of a number of books in the weird fiction genre, beginning with his collection The White Hands and Other Weird Tales in 2003.  More recent fiction has been scheduled for what will now be posthumous publication.

Mark was a member of the original Arthur Machen Society in the 1990s, and would later become active in its successor, the Friends of Arthur Machen, becoming Secretary for two different terms. He will be remembered from many meetings of the Friends (from annual dinners, to more ad hoc pub crawls), as great company; he was a knowledgeable and passionate advocate for writers such as Machen, Lovecraft and Ligotti, as well as enjoying, like Machen, good conversation, drink, food and tobacco.

I first met Mark in the 1990s through the Society and we met many times in London and Wales, sharing an interest not only in weird fiction, but authors of the 1890s. I remember having a long conversation with Mark about Edgar Allan Poe’s philosophy of ‘unity of effect’ in the short story, and published his essay on the subject, ‘Brilliance beyond Darkness’ in 1994. Mark’s own fiction was often at its best when he employed Poe’s philosophy: Mark was not particularly interested in writing stories set in recognisable and benign present day settings into which the weird or uncanny might slowly intrude.

From the outset, Mark’s stories take place in a strange and decaying world—one that is often blighted, if not diseased. This gives his fiction a bleak vision and an intensity that has been admired by many readers as well as fellow-authors, since the first magazine appearances of his stories in the 1980s. Apart from in his own books, his stories have been published in such prestigious anthologies as The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, A Mountain Walks, and The Weird.

Mark’s first great literary influence was H.P. Lovecraft, but Machen was to become an equally strong influence. Mark wrote:

'Machen had a significant advantage over Lovecraft for me, in that he was a Londoner like myself. So I could immediately identify with the locales he describes in much of his fiction in a way that I couldn’t with Lovecraft’s Providence and Rhode Island. Machen’s vision of London as some interminable labyrinth of mysterious wonder and horror took firmer hold of my imagination, since I experienced it on a daily basis. Now one could argue that this is just an accident of birth and has no bearing on their respective literary merits, which I think is true. In terms of their contribution to the literary weird continuum, I would place them on an approximately equal level. I don’t think Machen’s work is, overall, necessarily superior to Lovecraft’s. . . . Both men were remarkable prose-stylists who recognised that the creation of atmosphere in a supernatural horror tale required a language of heightened sensitivity.'

Mark Samuels was not averse to controversy. I had a couple of bust-ups with him (I was not without some degree of blame both times) and we had some profound disagreements, but we always managed to put those things behind us, sit down over a drink, and resume our friendship. I was delighted when (post disagreements) he dedicated his 2011 Chômu Press edition of The Man Who Collected Machen and Other Stories to me.

Mark had become a Roman Catholic in his mid-twenties, and discussed his faith in relation to his literary interests and writings in a fascinating interview with Matt Cardin in 2000. On his death, Mark received, as was his request, Last Rites.

In recent years Mark had moved to King’s Langley, just outside of London. He was living close to his partner, Madeleine Harrison, with whom he planned his future. When The Friends of Arthur Machen meet in Hay on Wye in March, in the midst of the bookish and Machenian talk, he will be sorely missed, and we will raise a glass to him. In the wider world of weird literature, he will continue to be read.

A Mark Samuels Bibliography


 A Pilgrim Stranger, self published 2017

Witch-Cult Abbey, Zagava, 2021


The Face of Twilight, PS Publishing, 2006, reprinted self published 2016

Glyphotech, PS Publishing, 2008

Short Story Collections

The White Hands and Other Weird Tales, Tartarus Press, 2003 (translated as Die Weißen Hände und andere Geschichten des Grauens)

Black Altars, Rainfall Books, 2003

The Man Who Collected Machen and Other Stories, Ex Occidente Press, 2010, reprinted as The Man Who Collected Machen and Other Weird Tales, Chômu Press, 2011

Written in Darkness, Egaeus Press, 2014, Chômu Press, 2017

Glyphotech and Other Macabre Processes, self published 2016

The Prozess Manifestations, Zagava, 2017

The Age of Decayed Futurity: The Best of Mark Samuels, Hippocampus Press, 2020


Prophecies and Dooms, self published, 2018

(R B Russell)


  1. Really sad news! RIP

  2. Sorry to read about this. His writing was original, and I found it difficult to categorise. Whatever he wrote, I found it interesting, insightful and entertaining. Go with your God Mark.

  3. So sad and sorry to hear of his passing. Thank you Mark, for the beautiful and moving Wormwoodiana eulogy.

  4. A terrible loss both personally and to weird fiction. He was a great writer and a generous friend.

  5. Terrible news. He was one of my favorite writers and one of the best to ever do it. I'm thankful for the few interactions I had with him.

  6. How terrible! I was lucky enough to introduce "The Age of Decayed Futurity" and I included "The White Hands" in a forthcoming anthology of Weird Tales. Mark and I exchanged emails only a few months ago about the proper text to use since he'd fiddled with the story over the years. His was a wonderful and original talent. Both the field and readers are the poorer without him, a real loss.

  7. So sorry to hear.
    I didn't know Mark personally, but I loved his writing and The White Hands and Other Weird Tales is an absolute masterpiece.
    My sincerest condolences to all who knew him. He will be missed.

  8. Such crushing and unexpected news. He leaves behind a very important body of work. I love all his stuff but The Man Who Collected Machen was a real watershed in reading for me.

    -Jeff Matthews

  9. Thank you for the lovely remembrance. I share your grief at Mark's passing. Like you, I knew him for many years but had more lately fallen out of touch for extended periods. Most recently I wrote the introduction to his forthcoming fiction collection. I actually sent it to him last weekend, apparently just hours before he passed. So this has made the news all the more shocking for me. I've been so pleased to see the outpouring of warm memories that people are sharing about their relationships with Mark. My own memories of him are just as warm.

  10. Wow, that's a real punch in the gut. A very talented guy whose work I enjoy very much. R.I.P., brother.

  11. I am so very sorry to hear this. I look forward to reading some of his stories. This will move them to the top of the list.
    Memory Eternal.

  12. Really sad news. So sudden. So young. RIP.

  13. Dreadful news. I was glad to learn he received Last Rites, at least. He was a rare talent - in the line of Ligotti and Machen but with a style and voice all his own. I’ll pray for him this evening. RIP Mark Samuels

  14. John Hirschhorn-SmithDecember 11, 2023 at 3:43 PM

    I’m very sad and surprised to learn this.
    I must have known Mark close to twenty year and was always good company as well as being a great writer. He was one of those figures in my life who one assumed would always be an ever-present part of my circle and it is strange to think that I will never see him again.
    Condolences to his family and friends. J

  15. I had no idea. I just tried to subscribe to his Patreon last night because there was a space open and couldn't figure out why it wouldn't let me. Very sad to hear. I loved his work. He will be greatly missed.

  16. Mark was a great guy. Warm and full of humor, he will be missed. His A PILGRIM STRANGER is one of my all time favorite books. I carry it in my car, just in case! Condolences to Madeleine and other friends and family.

  17. Very sad news! I was checking, because I love his work and reading this breaks my heart. My condolences to the family and friends.

  18. Very sad news. I loved his story in Penumbra No. 1 and his intro to Edgar Allan Poe: Masters of the Weird Tale.
    He was an extraordinary writer indeed.

  19. From the title alone I'd love to read "The Man Who Collected Machen and Other Weird Tales", but it's an expensive collectible now.

    Is there any chance his friends will gather his fiction in a volume?

  20. My brother’s legacy will live on. Thank you for all your kind words
    Justin Samuels

  21. I’m a huge fan of Mark Samuels. I felt the news of his passing like the loss of a very good friend. We shared a certain vision of the world. I would have loved to meet him or at least to write to him. Now I am rereading his last novel Witch Cult Abbey and I miss the awareness of him living and writing at the other side of the world. English is my second language, I apologize for the bad grammar. Thank you , Mark.