John Crowley

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John Crowley
File:John Crowley South Street Seaport cropped.jpg
Crowley at South Street Seaport in 2007
Born (1942-12-01) 1 December 1942 (age 79)
Presque Isle, Maine, U.S.
Occupation Novelist, documentary screenwriter, university lecturer
Language English
Nationality American
Period 1975–
Genre Science fiction, fantasy
Notable works Engine Summer
Little, Big
Ægypt series: The Solitudes,
Love & Sleep, Dæmonomania, Endless Things
Notable awards World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement

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

He is best known as the author of Little, Big (1981), which received the 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.

Crowley writes the bi-monthly "Easy Chair" essay in Harper's Magazine.


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 17th volume of fiction (Four Freedoms) in 2009. 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 National Book Award in 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 for 2014.

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.

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 Deep, Doubleday (1975)
  • Beasts, Doubleday (1976)
  • Engine Summer, Doubleday (1979) — Bantam Books edition 1980 with cover art by Elizabeth Malczynski — John W. Campbell Memorial Award runner-up and BSFA Award finalist, 1980[5]
  • Little, Big, Bantam (1981) — cover art and inside illustrations by Elizabeth Malczynski — 1982 World Fantasy Award winner; Locus runner-up; BSFA, Hugo, and Nebula nominee[5]
  • Ægypt (first novel in the Ægypt tetralogy), Bantam (1987); revised and republished 2007 under intended original title, The Solitudes — 1988 WFA and Clarke Awards nominee[5]
  • Love & Sleep (second novel in the Ægypt tetralogy), Bantam (1994); revised 2008 — 1995 WFA nominee[5]
  • Dæmonomania (third novel in the Ægypt tetralogy), Bantam (2000); revised 2008
  • The Translator, William Morrow (2002)
  • Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land, William Morrow (2005)
  • Endless Things (fourth and final novel in the Ægypt tetralogy), Small Beer Press (2007); revised 2009 — 2008 Locus Award fifth place[5]
  • Four Freedoms, William Morrow (2009)
  • KA: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, unpublished (as of 2015)
  • The Chemical Wedding by Christian Rosencreutz, A Romance in Eight Days by Johann Valentin Andreae in a New Version by John Crowley, illustrated by Theo Fadel, and designed by Jacob McMurray (to be published Nov 2016)

Short fiction

  • "Antiquities" (1977)
  • "Somewhere to Elsewhere" (1978 but printed as 1977, an earlier draft of part of the first chapter and all of the second chapter of Little, Big)
  • "Where Spirits Gat Them Home" (1978, later revised as "Her Bounty to the Dead")
  • "The Single Excursion of Caspar Last" (1979, later incorporated into "Great Work of Time")
  • "The Reason for the Visit" (1980)
  • "The Green Child" (1981)
  • "Novelty" (1983)
  • "Snow" (1985) — 1985 Locus Award third place[5]
  • "The Nightingale Sings at Night" (1989)
  • "Great Work of Time" (novella, originally published in Novelty, 1989), Bantam (1991) — 1990 World Fantasy Award and 1999 Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire winner[5]
  • "In Blue" (1989)
  • "Missolonghi 1824" (1990)
  • "Exogamy" (1993)
  • "Gone" (1996) — 1997 Locus Award winner[5]
  • "Lost and Abandoned" (1997)
  • "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)
  • "The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines" (novella, 2002, in Conjunctions: 39, The New Wave Fabulists, edited by Peter Straub)
  • "Little Yeses, Little Nos" (2005)
  • "Conversation Hearts" (2008; published as a chapbook by Subterranean Press)
  • "And Go Like This" (2011, in Naked City anthology)
  • "Glow Little Glowworm" (2012, in Conjunctions: 59, Colloquy)


  • 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); includes 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, including "Great Work of Time", except "The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines".


  • 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)




  • Crowley, John (Jan 2010). "End of an age". Locus (588): 6, 53–54.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Audio books

  • Ægypt, Blackstone Audiobooks (2007; unabridged reading of The Solitudes by the author.)
  • Little, Big, Blackstone Audiobooks (2011; 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 "John Crowley". Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards: Index of Literary Nominees. Locus. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  6. "Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire 1999". Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  7. World Fantasy Convention (2010). "Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved 2011-02-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

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

External links