John Crowley (author)

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John Crowley
John Crowley South Street Seaport cropped.jpg
Crowley at South Street Seaport in 2007
Born (1942-12-01) December 1, 1942 (age 81)
Presque Isle, Maine, U.S.
  • Writer
  • Screenwriter
  • Lecturer
Genre Fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, essayist
Notable works Engine Summer
Little, Big
Ægypt ( 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 historical fiction. He has also written essays. Crowley studied at Indiana University and has a second career as a documentary film writer.


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 now complete. [5]

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. [6]

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). [16] [17] He expanded the story into a 2022 novel of the same name, [18] though the link to Ægypt was omitted.

Short fiction



Documentary scripts


Essay collections

  • In Other Words, Subterranean Press (2007).
  • Reading Backwards: Essays & Reviews, 2005-2018, Subterranean Press (2019).
  • Two Talks on Writing, Ninepin Press (2024); includes "Practicing the Arts of Peace" and "The Uses of Allegory".
  • Seventy-Four Dreams, Ninepin Press (2024).


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

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  1. Nazaryan, Alexander (December 3, 2008). "Susan Orlean, David Remnick, Ethan Hawke, and Others Pick Their Favorite Obscure Books". Village Voice.
  2. 1 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. "The virtual end: Update 9/22/22".
  6. John Crowley Interview
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 "John Crowley" Archived April 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine . Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards: Index of Literary Nominees. Locus . Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  8. American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Awareds. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  9. "Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire 1999". Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  10. Flaiano International Awards Winners 2003. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  11. World Fantasy Convention (2010). "Award Winners and Nominees". Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
  12. Small Beer Press. Not a Journal. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  13. MWA Announces the 2018 Edgar Award Winners. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  14. Mythopoeic Awards: 2018 Winners Announced. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
  15. Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire 2021. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  16. Martin, George R. R.; Lynch, Scott; Bear, Elizabeth; Nix, Garth (October 16, 2018). The Book of Magic: A Collection of Stories. Random House Publishing Group. p. 63. ISBN   978-0-399-59379-6.
  17. Czyz, Vincent (September 4, 2020). "Book Review: "And Go Like This" - Short Stories of Distinction". The Arts Fuse. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  18. "Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Book Review: Flint and Mirror by John Crowley. Tor, $26.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-81752-5". Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  19. Crowley, John. "Tom Mix".
  20. "Totalitopia". Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2016.

Further reading