In a kinder, gentler world, Robert Holdstock would have been turning 68 today. No doubt roast or barbecued lamb would have been on the menu, with an accompanying glass of red, or perhaps a fine ale. The cricket commentary might well have been on the radio in the background. And all around the British isles, those increasingly rare unspoiled pockets of deep woodland might have fallen silent, just for a moment, and acknowledged the birthday of the writer who has done more for the idea of the wildwood than any other.
Sadly, the world is neither kind nor gentle and Rob was taken from us in 2009, just months after he treated us to a final journey through Ryhope Wood. But, like the mythagos he brought so beautifully to life, his voice lives on in the wonderful body of work he left behind.
Robert Holdstock’s crowning glory was, of course, the Mythago sequence:
The 1985 World Fantasy Award-winner Mythago Wood, published in 1984, begins the Mythago sequence. Adapted from his 1981 World Fantasy Award-winning novella of the same name, it is a landmark in British fantasy. As the legendary Michael Moorcock says:
No other author has so successfully captured the magic of the wildwood
The sequence continues with 1989 BSFA Award-winner Lavondyss, considered by many to be even better than Mythago Wood.
The tales of Ryhope Wood continue across another five books, concluding with Avilion, published just four months before Rob’s death:
And if you can make your way back from the wildwood – changed or unchanged – there’s more of Robert Holdstock‘s brilliance to be experienced . . .
Robert Holdstock (1948-2009)
Read. Enjoy. Remember.