Clive on The Wood On The Hill

On the morning of October 31st the Duchess woke after a terrible nightmare in which she had been chased by something she could not see, through a forest in which the trees were as big as mountains, or else she was the size of a butterfly, one of the two. And in the dream she had met all of her friends, the ones I told you about, only they had become monstrously misshappen and horrid. First she had met Lady Boswell-Humphries, who had apparently swapped bodies with a pig because that way, she said, she could eat more. Beside her, sitting on a toadstool, was the Admiral's wife, whose head was slowly turning into a gramophone, her nose becoming the huge, black horn. Further along she came upon the Archbishop, dangling from a convolvulus, and trying, so he explained, to fly. She saw the Marquis' wife too, who had become a spider during the night and was busy drinking the blood of the peasants that had become trapped in her dark web. But worst of all was the General, whom the Duchess discovered in the blackest part of that terrifying forest, trampling on beautiful flowers and muttering, 'tut-tut, terrible waste,' to himself as he did so. His head was bowed so the Duchess could not see his face until he looked up at her. But when he did the Duchess collapsed to the cold ground in a dead faint, for she saw with horror that he no longer had a face, but had instead a grinning skull with no eyes, white in the darkness of that forest.

"When I was eleven or twelve I wrote my first ambitious tale - that is, something a little bigger than the creative writing projects I was set at school. It was called The Wood On The Hill, and I illustrated it with my own drawings. I made no attempt to show it to a publisher because - like many artists and writers - I didn't like what I had written (and drawn) when it was finished. Still, it was a beginning."

Introduction to Clive Barker's Thief Of Always

By Clive Barker, 3 August 2001

"This sounds hopelessly melancholy, in a way, but the having of a tree was a big deal to me. We were moving to this place where there was green, and we had a tree. [But it could not remain] so the tree comes down, and I am furious at this! And that sparked the idea of a woman who plots against nature, and who is, in turn, plotted against."

The Dark Fantastic

By Douglas E. Winter, 2001

"I think the only question we have right now is the length of the [Dark Fantastic] manuscript and if we'll be able to run the entire [unpublished] story. But if the publishers don't mind putting this story in, which I wrote when I was 16, I think it'd be great to have it in there. Doug has the permission to use it and all, I think it is just a question whether this book turns out to be 900 pages and the publishers go, 'Wait a second.' But Doug certainly has the story."


By Craig Fohr and Kelly Shaw, Lost Souls, March 2001 (note - interview took place 14 December 2000)

"Poe - Mask of The Red Death - is clearly there and I think some of the shorter pieces of Tolkien, the pieces that went into the Tom Bombadil tales. Those were the first things where I thought, 'Oh - I could do something like that,' because it was short enough to feel I could get my head around it. I know that I also (and this was the first time I'd ever done this) I did a number of drawings with this close cross-hatching with a Rötring and then putting watercolour on over that and also coloured crayon. And they were small pictures, but they were very intense pictures and I remember doing copies of perhaps two or three of the illustrations for one of my father's best pals - Mr. Finkler at B.I.C.C. - because he liked them so much. And I remember that being quite a big deal because I think he gave me £5! It was like the gods had dropped in! So, that was quite a deal and I think that probably would help us to figure out when those are - I'm sure I have some of those drawings and I'm sure they were at a time when I was doing that little curved space at the bottom of the picture with my name and the date written on it. The last time I would ever be neat!"


By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 22 July 2004 (note - full text available here in 'Liverpool Lives')

...other comments

Douglas E. Winter : "The Wood On The Hill was inspired by a favourite story, Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Masque Of The Red Death', and by Clive's sadness about the loss of his first tree."

The Dark Fantastic

By Douglas E. Winter, 2001

The Wood on the Hill bibliography...

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