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Encyclopedia > Reggie Oliver
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[REGGIE OLIVER] playwright, biographer and writer of ghost stories. Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ...

Reggie Oliver was born in London in 1952, went to Eton (Newcastle Scholar, 1970, Oppidan Scholar) and Oxford (University College, BA Hons 1975) and has been a professional playwright, actor, and theatre director since 1975. He has worked in radio, television, films and theatre, both in the West End and outside London. He was a founding member of the late Sir Anthony Quayle’s Compass Theatre, and both played the part of Traverse and understudied Sir Anthony in the tour and West End run of The Clandestine Marriage in 1984. His plays include Imaginary Lines, which was first produced and directed by Alan Ayckbourn at Scarborough in 1985 and has since been translated into several languages, Absolution (King’s Head 1983), Back Payments (King’s Head 1985), Taking Liberties (Wolsey, Ipswich 1996) Put Some Clothes on, Clarisse! at the Duchess Theatre, London, 1989 and Winner Takes All, described by Michael Billington as "the funniest evening in London" when it was revived at the Orange Tree Theatre in 2000. His acclaimed biography of Stella Gibbons, Out of the Woodshed, was published by Bloomsbury in 1998 and he is a contributor to the historical magazine History Today. He has written and written about ghost stories for such journals as Supernatural Tales, All Hallows and Weirdly Supernatural. His play A Portrait of Two Artists was performed on Radio 3 in 1989. Publications: Imaginary Lines (Samuel French 1987) Put Some Clothes on, Clarisse! (Samuel French 1990) The Music Lovers (Samuel French 1992) Winner Takes All (Samuel French 2001) Out of the Woodshed, the Life of Stella Gibbons (Bloomsbury 1998) The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini, and Other Strange Stories (Haunted River 2003) Nominated for Best Collection, International Horror Guild 2004 The Complete Symphonies of Adolf Hitler (Haunted River 2005) (nominations for various awards.) His work has appeared in an number of anthologies including Acquainted with the Night (Ash Tree 2004) and Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 19 (St. Martin’s Press 2006) Eton can refer to several things: Eton, Berkshire, a town in England. ... Oxford is a city and local government district in Oxfordshire, England, with a population of 134,248 (2001 census). ... Anthony Quayle Sir John Anthony Quayle (7 September 1913 – 20 October 1989) was an English actor and director. ... Sir Alan Ayckbourn CBE (born April 12, 1939) is a popular and prolific English playwright. ... Michael Billington (born on December 24, 1941 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England; died on June 3, 2005 in the UK) was a popular British film and television actor. ... Stella Dorothea Gibbons (5 January 1902—19 December 1989) was an English novelist and poet. ... Samuel French in 1851 Samuel French (1821 - 1898) was a U.S. entrepreneur who, together with British actor, playwright and theatrical manager Thomas Hailes Lacy, pioneered in the field of theatrical publishing and the licensing of plays. ...

He lives in Suffolk and is married to the artist and actress Joanna Dunham.


Reggie Oliver is regarded as one of the most literate, original and sophisticated exponents of horror and the classic ghost story today. His two collections The Complete Symphonies of Adolf Hitler and The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini have been called “cult classics”, a phrase he detests. There are those for whom his fastidiously elegant prose, his passion for academic minutiae, and his rather patrician dissection of snobbery and the British class system are unsympathetic, but his range is such that he constantly surprises any reader disposed to pigeonhole him. Some of his best stories, for instance, are set around the rather seedy end of show business, a world in which, as a moderately successful actor, he has had ample experience. The critic Douglas Campbell wrote of his story “The Skins” “I find it hard to believe that there wasn’t some kind of a dare involved when Oliver set out to write a tale about a haunted pantomime horse, but the story itself is an unforgettable piece, drawing to a grotesque and pathetic climax in a horribly plausible world of down-at-heel theatre folk.” (All Hallows 41) His experiences in the world of Academe, the Church of England, and of Art Galleries and Art Dealing have all been put to good use. “Oliver’s ability to create a sense of time and place in every one of these stories is exemplary,” (All Hallows 34) wrote Jim Rockhill of The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini and of the same volume Ramsey Campbell noted: “Oliver’s sharp eye for character and ear for dialogue never desert him.” It is perhaps this quality which marks him out. His conception of horror is second to none, but it is his ability to create credible characters and arresting milieus in which the horrors occur which make him outstanding. Moreover he has a philosophical depth which is only rivalled - though not surpassed - by writers such as Matt Cardin and Thomas Ligotti. Of his story “The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini” Jim Rockhill wrote “As a work of spiritual terror it has few peers... Thomas Ligotti and Matt Cardin are the only authors writing today who equal the assurance demonstrated by the author of this tale in ripping away the veil separating mundane reality from the shrieking abyss it conceals.” (All Hallows 34) His gift for pastiche which equals that of M. R. James has allowed him to produce surprisingly accurate imitations of a number of styles and authors from Restoration Comedy and Sixteenth Century mystical texts to Oscar Wilde and M. R. James himself. All these talents give his tales authenticity, but they add to the playfulness, humour and wit which, though ever present, never detract from the genuine terrors which he invokes. Very few of his stories are pure comedy, though “The Blue Room” in The Complete Symphonies of Adolf Hitler does tell the tale of how a hereditary peer came inadvertently to have sex in a haunted room with an ageing member of the British Royal Family (modelled not too loosely, it has been rumoured, on the late Princess Margaret.) Though Oliver might reasonably have been thought to have shot his bolt with the thirty one stories of his first two collections which owe, incidentally, a considerable debt to the critical and editorial skills of his publisher, the brilliant but controversial Christopher Barker, he is still producing work of striking originality and stylishness, and further collections and works are promised from him. John Ramsey Campbell (born January 4, 1946 in Liverpool) is a British writer, who is considered by many literary critics to be one of the greatest masters of horror fiction. ... Thomas Ligotti (born July 9, 1953, in Detroit, Michigan) is a writer of horror stories. ... Thomas Ligotti (born July 9, 1953, in Detroit, Michigan) is a writer of horror stories. ... Oscar Fingal OFlahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) was an Anglo-Irish playwright, novelist, poet, short story writer and Freemason. ... Montague Rhodes James, (August 1, 1862–June 12, 1936). ... HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret (Margaret Rose Armstrong-Jones, née Windsor; (August 21, 1930—February 9, 2002) was a member of the British Royal Family, the second eldest daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and sister of the current British...

As a critic of ghost fiction in All Hallows he has shown himself to be both witty and penetrating: a scourge of cliché and pretentiousness, but a generous celebrator of new talent. This article is about the Christian holiday. ...





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