John Crowley (author)

John Crowley /ˈkrli/ (born December 1, 1942) is an American author of fantasy, science fiction and historical fiction. He has also written essays. Crowley studied at Indiana University and has a second career as a documentary film writer.

John Crowley
Crowley at South Street Seaport in 2007
Born (1942-12-01) December 1, 1942
Presque Isle, Maine, U.S.
OccupationNovelist and short fiction writer, documentary screenwriter, university lecturer
GenreFantasy, Science fiction, Historical fiction, Essayist
Notable worksEngine Summer
Little, Big
Ægypt (The Solitudes, Love & Sleep, Dæmonomania, Endless Things)
Notable awardsWorld Fantasy Award for Life Achievement


Crowley is best known as the author of Little, Big (1981), a work which received World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and has been called "a neglected masterpiece" by Harold Bloom,[1] and his Ægypt series of novels which revolve around the same themes of Hermeticism, memory, families and religion. Some of his nonfiction writing has appeared bimonthly in Harper's Magazine in the form of his "Easy Chair" column, which ended in 2016.


John Crowley was born in Presque Isle, Maine, in 1942; his father was then an officer in the US Army Air Corps. He grew up in Vermont, northeastern Kentucky and (for the longest stretch) Indiana, where he went to high school and college. He moved to New York City after college to make movies, and did find work in documentary films, an occupation he still pursues. He published his first novel (The Deep) in 1975, and his twelfth (Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr) in 2017. Since 1993 he has taught creative writing at Yale University.[2] In 1992 he received the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

His first published novels were science fiction: The Deep (1975) and Beasts (1976). Engine Summer (1979) was nominated for the 1980 American Book Award in a one-year category Science Fiction;[3] it appears in David Pringle's Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels. In 1981 came Little, Big, covered in Pringle's sequel, Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels.

In 1987 Crowley embarked on an ambitious four-volume novel, Ægypt, comprising The Solitudes (originally published as Ægypt), Love & Sleep, Dæmonomania, and Endless Things, published in May 2007. This series and Little, Big were cited when Crowley received the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature.

He is also the recipient of an Ingram Merrill Foundation grant. James Merrill, the organization's founder, greatly loved Little, Big,[4] and was blurbed praising Crowley on the first edition of Love & Sleep. His recent novels are The Translator, recipient of the Premio Flaiano (Italy); Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land, which contains an entire imaginary novel by the poet; and the aforementioned Four Freedoms, about workers at an Oklahoma defense plant during World War II. A novella, The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines, appeared in 2002. A museum-quality 25th anniversary edition of Little, Big, featuring the art of Peter Milton and a critical introduction by Harold Bloom, is in preparation.

Crowley's short fiction is collected in three volumes: Novelty (containing the World Fantasy Award-winning novella Great Work of Time), Antiquities, and Novelties & Souvenirs, an omnibus volume containing nearly all his short fiction through its publication in 2004. A collection of essays and reviews entitled In Other Words was published in early 2007.

Most of the ideas he has for books occur about ten years before he actually starts working on the books.[5]

In 1989 Crowley and his wife Laurie Block founded Straight Ahead Pictures to produce media (film, video, radio and internet) on American history and culture. Crowley has written scripts for short films and documentaries, many historical documentaries for public television; his work has received numerous awards and has been shown at the New York Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, and many others. His scripts include The World of Tomorrow (on the 1939 World's Fair), No Place to Hide (on the bomb shelter obsession), The Hindenburg (for HBO), and FIT: Episodes in the History of the Body (American fitness practices and beliefs over the decades; with Laurie Block).[2]

Crowley's correspondence with literary critic Harold Bloom, and their mutual appreciation, led in 1993 to Crowley taking up a post at Yale University, where he teaches courses in Utopian fiction, fiction writing, and screenplay writing. Bloom claimed on that Little, Big ranks among the five best novels by a living writer, and included Little, Big, Ægypt (The Solitudes), and Love & Sleep in his canon of literature (in the appendix to The Western Canon, 1994). In his Preface to Snake's-Hands, Bloom identifies Crowley as his "favorite contemporary writer", and the Ægypt series as his "favorite romance...after Little, Big".

Crowley has also taught at the Clarion West Writers' Workshop held annually in Seattle, Washington.




The Ægypt Cycle


Crowley's short story "Flint and Mirror" (2018) was presented as "recently discovered among uncatalogued papers of the novelist Fellowes Kraft" (one of the Ægypt's protagonists).

Short fiction

  • "Antiquities" (1977, in Whispers: An Anthology of Fantasy and Horror)
  • "Somewhere to Elsewhere" (1978 but printed as 1977, in The Little Magazine; an earlier draft of part of the first chapter and all of the second chapter of Little, Big)
  • "Where Spirits Gat Them Home" (1978, in Shadows anthology; later revised as "Her Bounty to the Dead")
  • "The Single Excursion of Caspar Last" (1979, in Gallery magazine; later incorporated into "Great Work of Time")
  • "The Reason for the Visit" (1980, in Interfaces anthology)
  • "The Green Child" (1981, in Elsewhere anthology)
  • "Novelty" (1983, in Interzone magazine)
  • "Snow" (1985, in Omni magazine) — 1985 Locus Award third place[6]
  • "The Nightingale Sings at Night" (1989, in Novelty)
  • "Great Work of Time" (novella, 1989, in Novelty), Bantam (1991) — 1990 World Fantasy Award and 1999 Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire winner[6]
  • "In Blue" (novella, 1989, in Novelty)
  • "Missolonghi 1824" (1990, in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine)
  • "Exogamy" (1993, in Omni Best Science Fiction Three anthology)
  • "Gone" (1996, in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) — 1997 Locus Award winner[6]
  • "Lost and Abandoned" (1997, in Black Swan, White Raven anthology)
  • "An Earthly Mother Sits and Sings" (2000, published as an original chapbook by DreamHaven, illustrated by Charles Vess)
  • "The War Between the Objects and the Subjects" (2002, in J. K. Potter's Embrace the Mutation anthology)
  • "The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines" (novella, 2002, in Conjunctions: 39, The New Wave Fabulists, edited by Peter Straub), Subterranean Press (2005)
  • "Little Yeses, Little Nos" (2005, in The Yale Review)
  • "Conversation Hearts" (2008; published as a chapbook by Subterranean Press)
  • "And Go Like This" (2011, in Naked City anthology)
  • "Tom Mix" (vignette, 2012, online[10]; republished as "In the Tom Mix Museum")
  • "Glow Little Glowworm" (2012, in Conjunctions: 59, Colloquy)
  • "The Million Monkeys of M. Borel" (2016, in Conjunctions: 67, Other Aliens)
  • "This Is Our Town" (2017, in Totalitopia)
  • "Mount Auburn Street" (2017, in The Yale Review)
  • "Spring Break" (2017, in New Haven Noir anthology) — 2018 Edgar Award winner
  • "Flint and Mirror" (2018, in The Book of Magic anthology)


  • Novelty, Bantam (1989); collects "The Nightingale Sings At Night", "Great Work of Time", "In Blue" and the previously published "Novelty".
  • Antiquities: Seven Stories, Incunabula (1993); collects all of his stories to that point which were not included in Novelty.
  • Novelties and Souvenirs: Collected Short Fiction, Perennial (2004); collects all of his short fiction up to that point, with the exception of "The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines".
  • Totalitopia, PM Press (2017); collects four stories ("This Is Our Town", "Gone", "In the Tom Mix Museum", "And Go Like This"), three essays and the interview.[11]
  • And Go Like This: Stories, Small Beer Press (2019)


  • Beasts/Engine Summer/Little Big, QPBC (1991)
  • Three Novels (1994; later published as Otherwise: Three Novels by John Crowley. It includes The Deep, Beasts, Engine Summer).


  • The World of Tomorrow (1984)
  • Fit: Episodes in the History of the Body (1990, with Laurie Block)


Essay collections


Crowley's articles and essay-reviews have appeared in Lapham's Quarterly, the Boston Review, Tin House, and Harper's.

  • Crowley, John (January 2010). "End of an age". Locus (588): 6, 53–54.

Audio books

  • Ægypt, Blackstone Audiobooks (2007; unabridged reading of The Solitudes by the author.)
  • Little, Big, Blackstone Audiobooks (2011; unabridged reading by the author.)
  • Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, Brilliance Audio (2017; unabridged reading by the author.)


  1. Nazaryan, Alexander (December 3, 2008). "Susan Orlean, David Remnick, Ethan Hawke, and Others Pick Their Favorite Obscure Books". Village Voice.
  2. "John Crowley: Senior Lecturer in English, Creative Writing" (faculty profile). Yale University: English. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  3. "1980" (hardcover Science Fiction). 60 Years of Honoring Great American Books (anniversary blog), August 13, 2009. National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  4. Bloom, Harold (2003). "Preface to Snake's-Hands". In Turner, Alice K.; Andre-Driussi, Michael (eds.). Snake's-Hands: The Fiction of John Crowley. [Canton, OH]: Cosmos Books. p. 10. ISBN 1-58715-509-5.
  5. John Crowley Interview
  6. "John Crowley". Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards: Index of Literary Nominees. Locus. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  7. "Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire 1999". Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  8. World Fantasy Convention (2010). "Award Winners and Nominees". Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
  9. Mythopoeic Awards: 2018 Winners Announced. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
  10. Crowley, John. "Tom Mix".
  11. "Totalitopia". Retrieved December 18, 2016.

Further reading

  • Snake's-Hands: The Fiction of John Crowley, edited by Alice K. Turner and Michael Andre-Driussi, Cosmos (Canton, OH), 2003.
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