Robert Aickman (1914-1981) is remem­bered today as the author of fascinating ‘strange stories’, and also as one of the saviours of Britain’s inland waterways. In Aick­man’s mind these two apparently differ­ent interests were allied; he was an ideal­ist and a Roman­tic who sought the ‘world else­where’ of Shakespeare’s Cor­io­lanus, because the modern world was not for him. Aick­man believed that an alterna­tive realm could exist in life and the creative arts, and he sought to offer this in his fiction, and to build a utopia through the restoration of Brit­ain’s in­land waterways.

Aickman wrote two volumes of auto­biography, The Attempted Rescue and The River Runs Uphill, and both are full of colourful personal details. However, his own versions of events cannot always be relied upon.

Ray Russell has now written the first full biography of Aickman (Robert Aickman: An Attempted Biography, Tartarus Press, 2022), disentangling and examining the myths that have sur­rounded the man and his life. In this Zoom discussion he will discuss Aickman and his life along with Rosalie Parker, who has shared in this quest.

R.B. Russell runs the award-winning Tartarus Press with Rosalie Parker. He has had four collections of short stories, three novellas and two novels published. His non-fiction includes an Arthur Machen gazetteer (Occult Territory), a collection of essays (Past Lives of Old Books), and Sylvia Townsend Warner: A Bibliography.

Rosalie Parker is the editor at the award-winning Tartarus Press, which she runs with R.B. Russell. She is the author of four short story collections: The Old Knowledge and Other Stories (2010), Damage (2016), Sparks from the Fire (2018) and Through the Storm (2020).


Your host for this event will be the writer Edward Parnell, author of Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country. Edward Parnell lives in Norfolk and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He is the recipient of an Escalator Award from the National Centre for Writing and a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship. Ghostland (William Collins, 2019), 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: