February – To think

“Go to the winter woods: listen there, look, watch, and ‘the dead months’ will give you a subtler secret than any you have yet found in the forest.”

— William Sharp (writing as Fiona Macleod), Where the Forest Murmurs

William Sharp was born in 1855 in the town of Paisley, Scotland. He worked in a law office, went to the University of Glasgow where he did not graduate. Eventually, he married his cousin and became a full-time writer of poetry and literary biography. He wrote much of his works under the pseudonym Fiona Macleod, which was kept secret until his death.

The Poet W.B. Yeats did not like Sharp but found Fiona Macleod acceptable. It was said that years finally figured out that Macleod was Sharp. William Sharp actually did not like the duality and found it a strain. When he had to write to someone who was expecting a reply from Fiona, Sharp would dictate the letter to his sister so it would have a feminine slant to it.

By Frederick Hollyer – Internet Archive, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35912949

Like many in the 1890s Sharp was drawn to the occult and mysticism. He became a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a secret society for the study and practice of occult and mysticism. In August 1892, he published what became the only issue of the Pagan Review. He not only published, but he wrote all the articles using different pen names. The articles argued for the establishment of a new type of paganism that would abolish gender inequality. A bit before his time, there. The review was received negatively. Critics said its paganism was too far from the pagan writings of the ancient world. The Saturday Review wrote:

There can be no better cure for the errors of Neo-paganism than a study of the old pagans, Homer, Sophocles, Virgil. They, not M. Paul Verlaine, not even Mr. George Meredith, not even Beaudelaire (as the Pagan Review calls that author, who himself smote the Neo-Pagans in a memorable essay) are the guides to follow

Coste, Bénédicte (2014). “Late-Victorian Paganism: the case of the Pagan Review. Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens (80). doi:10.4000/cve.1533.

William Sharp in Sicily died on December 12, 1905, while a guest of Sir Alexander Nelson Hood, 5th Duke of Bronté and is buried there.

His Works

  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Record and Study (1882)
  • The Human Inheritance, The New Hope, Motherhood and Other Poems (1882)
  • Sopistra and Other Poems (1884);
  • Earth’s Voices (1884) poems
  • Sonnets of this century (1886) editor
  • Sea-Music: An Anthology of Poems (1887)
  • Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1887)
  • Romantic Ballads and Poems of Phantasy (1888)
  • Sport of chance (1888) novel
  • Life of Heinrich Heine (1888)
  • American Sonnets (1889)
  • Life of Robert Browning (1889)
  • The Children of Tomorrow (1889)
  • Sospiri di Roma (1891) poems
  • Life of Joseph Severn (1892)
  • A Fellowe and his Wife (1892)
  • Flower o’ the Vine (1892)
  • Pagan Review (1892)
  • Vistas (1894);
  • Pharais (1894) novel
  • The Gypsy Christ and Other Tales (1895)
  • Mountain Lovers (1895) novel
  • The Laughter of Peterkin (1895)
  • The Sin-Eater and Other Tales (1895)
  • Ecce puella and Other Prose Imaginings (1896)
  • Green Fire: A Romance
  • The Washer of the Ford (1896)
  • Fair Women in Painting and Poetry (1896)
  • Lyra Celtica: An Anthology of Representative Celtic Poetry (1896)
  • By Sundown Shores (1900)
  • The Divine Adventure (1900)
  • Iona (1900)
  • From the Hills of Dream, Threnodies Songs and Later Poems (1901)
  • The Progress of Art in the Nineteenth century (1902)
  • Wind and wave: selected tales (1902)
  • The House of Usna (1903)
  • Literary Geography (1904)
  • The Winged Destiny: Studies in the Spiritual History of the Gael (1904)
  • The Immortal Hour (1908)
  • Selected writings (1912) 5 Vols.
  • The Hills of Ruel, and Other Stories (1921) as FM

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