On 26 April 1895, the first day of the criminal trial of Oscar Wilde, Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock, who had just turned 35 and was already cirrhotic of liver and heavily dependent on opium and alcohol, died after collapsing into a fireplace at his mother’s home in Brighton. According to Arthur Symons, Count Stenbock lived a life that was ‘bizarre, fantastic, feverish, eccentric, extravagant, morbid, and perverse’. W. B. Yeats commemorated him as that ‘scholar, connoisseur, drunkard, poet, pervert, most charming of men’.

Today, Stenbock is remembered (if at all) for his eccentricities as much as for his writing, not least his alleged habit of travelling everywhere with a life-sized wooden doll he named ‘Le Petit Comte’.

In this talk, James Machin will be discussing his strange, short life, his collection of weird tales, Studies of Death (1894), and their ongoing fascination to connoisseurs of the weird and decadent.


James Machin is an editor, researcher, and writer who lives in Tring. Recent books include British Weird: Selected Short Fiction, 1893–1937 for Handheld Press and his short fiction has been published in Supernatural TalesThe Shadow Booth, and Weirdbook. He is co-editor of Faunus, the journal of the Friends of Arthur Machen.

Your host for this event will be the writer Edward Parnell, author of Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted CountryGhostland, a work of narrative non-fiction, is a moving exploration of what has haunted our writers and artists – as well as the author’s own haunted past; it was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley 2020 prize, an award given to a literary autobiography of excellence. Edward’s first novel The Listeners (2014), won the Rethink New Novels Prize. For further info see: https://edwardparnell.com

Don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day after the talk

12th November 2024 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

£6 - £10 & By Donation

Thank you for your support