|Occupation||Playwright, biographer, author|
Life and career
Reggie Oliver was educated at Eton (Newcastle Scholar, 1970, Oppidan Scholar) and University College, Oxford (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! (Duchess Theatre, London, 1989), and Winner Takes All—the last described by Michael Billington as "the funniest evening in London" when it was revived at the Orange Tree Theatre in 2000. His play A Portrait of Two Artists was performed on Radio 3 in 1989.
Oliver's biography of his aunt 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 about ghost stories for such journals as Supernatural Tales, All Hallows, Wormwood for which he writes the regular Under Review column, and Weirdly Supernatural.
He lives in Suffolk and is married to the artist and actress Joanna Dunham.
Oliver's first horror story appeared in the journal Weirdly Supernatural under the Haunted River imprint. This was followed by Oliver's first two collections, The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini and The Complete Symphonies of Adolf Hitler, again under the Haunted River imprint. The former was nominated for an International Horror Guild Award and the latter short-listed by the Dracula Society for a Children of the Night award. Both books received favourable notices from reviewers in such small press magazines as Weird Tales and All Hallows.
In All Hallows 34, Jim Rockhill praised Oliver's The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini, noting:
Oliver’s ability to create a sense of time and place in every one of these stories is exemplary.... 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.
His experiences in the worlds of academe, the Church of England, and the arts have all provided inspiration for his work. A number of his stories are set within the rather seedy end of show business, drawing on his background as a playwright, director and actor. Douglas Campbell wrote of one such 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."
He has pastiched a number of styles and authors, from Restoration comedy and 16th-century mystical texts to Oscar Wilde and M. R. James. A story in Arthur Machen's style resulted in his winning the Friends of Arthur Machen short story competition in 2005.
Oliver's work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including Acquainted with the Night,Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, Best New Horror etc. He has acted as consultant on a project which has seen all of M. R. James's ghost stories released on CD.
In April 2010, Centipede Press published Oliver's collected short stories in a volume which features many new illustrations.
- 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)
- Love Unknown (in Shadow Plays Egaeus Press 2012)
- Once Bitten (Samuel French, 2012)
- Out of the Woodshed: The Life of Stella Gibbons (Bloomsbury, 1998)
- The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini and Other Strange Stories (Haunted River, 2003, reprinted in a new edition with new illustrationsTartarus Press, 2012)
- The Complete Symphonies of Adolf Hitler (Haunted River, 2005, reprinted in a new edition with new illustrationsTartarus Press 2013)
- Masques of Satan: Twelve Tales and a Novella (Ash-Tree Press, 2007)
- Madder Mysteries (Ex Occidente Press, 2009)
- The Wounds of Exile, novella (Passport Levant 2010)
- The Dracula Papers, novel (Chomu Press 2011)
- Mrs Midnight and Other Stories (Tartarus Press, 2011)
- Virtue in Danger, novel (Zagava Press/Ex Occidente Press, 2013)
- Flowers of the Sea, Thirteen Stories and Two Novellas (Tartarus Press, 2013)
Collected and Selected editions
- Dramas from the Depths (Centipede Press, 2010) (omnibus volume containing all stories from The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini, The Complete Symphonies of Adolf Hitler, and Masques of Satan, and several stories from Madder Mysteries)
- Shadow Plays (Egaeus Press 2012)
- 1974 ZULEIKA(musical adaptation of Zuleika Dobson, music by Michael Brand) Oxford Playhouse
- 1975 NEW YEAR REVOLUTIONS (Revue) Overground Theatre, Kingston
- 1976 BRITISH BULL (Revue with Jeremy Browne) Overground Theatre, Kingston
- 1978 YOU MIGHT AS WELL LIVE (Half Moon Theatre, Tramshed etc.)RUDE HEALTH (Revue with Jeremy Browne) Overground Theatre, Kingston
- 1984 ABSOLUTION, King’s Head Theatre, Islington
- 1985 IMAGINARY LINES, Stephen Joseph, Scarborough BACK PAYMENTS, King’s Head Theatre, Islington
- 1986 A PORTRAIT OF TWO ARTISTS, Royal Academy etc. Subsequently performed Radio 3 1989
- 1989 PUT SOME CLOTHES ON, CLARISSE!, (Feydeau adaptation) Duchess Theatre, London
- 1991 SUGAR PLUM (Feydeau adaptation) Theatre West Tour
- 1992 SCOOPING THE POT (Feydeau adaptation) Theatre West Tour, subsequently renamed WINNER TAKES ALL and performed Wolsey Ipswich, 1996 Orange Tree Richmond, 2000 etc.
- 1993 THE MUSIC LOVERS (Feydeau adaptation) Numerous amateur & student productions
- 1995 TAKING LIBERTIES (Maupassant adaptation) Wolsey Studio, Ipswich
- 2010 STAGE FRIGHTS, one man show based on his stories (The Cut, Halesworth, Brighton World Horror Conference etc.)
- 2010 ONCE BITTEN (Adapted from Hennequin and Delacour's Le Procés Veauradieux) Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond. December 2010- February 2011
Stories in anthologies
- “The Devil’s Number” in Acquainted with the Night (Ash-Tree Press, 2004)
- “The Silver Cord” in Faunus 12 (FOAM 2005)
- “Among the Tombs” in Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 2006 (St Martin’s Press)
- “Mr Poo-Poo” in At Ease with the Dead (Ash-Tree Press, 2007) and Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 2008 (St Martin’s Press)
- “Mmm Delicious” in Zencore (Megazanthus Press 2007)
- “The Devil’s Funeral” in Shades of Darkness (Ash-Tree Press, 2008)
- “A Donkey at the Mysteries” in Exotic Gothic 2 (Ash-Tree Press, 2008) and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 20 (Robinson 2009)
- “The Children of Monte Rosa” in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 19 (Robinson 2008)
- “Meeting with Mike”in Exotic Gothic 3 (Ash-Tree Press, 2009)
- “Countess Otho” in Strange Tales 3 (Tartarus Press 2009)
- “The Head” in The Fourth Black Book of Horror (Mortbury Press 2009)
- “Mrs Midnight” in The Fifth Black Book of Horror (Mortbury Press 2009) The Best Horror of the Year Vol. 2 (Night Shade Books 2010) and Ghosts, recent hauntings (Prime Books 2012)
- “Mr Pigsny”in The Sixth Black Book of Horror (Mortbury Press 2010)and The Best Horror of the Year Vol. 3 (Night Shade Books 2011)
- “Puss-Cat” in Tails of Wonder and Imagination (Nightshade Books 2010)
- “The Black Metaphysical” in Cinnabar’s Gnosis (Ex Occidente 2010)
- “Beside the Shrill Sea” in Brighton Shock (PS Publishing 2010)
- "You Have Nothing To Fear" in Null Immortalis (Nemonymous 10, Megazanthus Press 2010)
- "The Game of Bear" (completion of an unfinished M.R.James story) The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21 (Robinson 2010)
- "Minos or Rhadamanthus" in The Seventh Black Book of Horror (Mortbury Press 2010)
- "Singing Blood" in Delicate Toxins (Side Real Press 2011)
- "Flowers of the Sea" in The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies (Megazanthus Press 2011)
- "The Philosophy of the Damned" in The Master in Café Morphine (Ex Occidente 2011)
- "Quieta Non Movere" in The Eighth Black Book of Horror (Mortbury Press 2011) and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 23 (Robinson 2012)
- "Baskerville's Midgets" in Blood and Other Cravings (TOR 2011)
- "A Child's Problem" in A Book of Horror (Jo Fletcher Books 2011)
- "Striding Edge" in Terror Tales of the Lake District (Gray Friar Press 2011)
- "Hand to Mouth" in Haunts (Ulysses Press 2011)
- "The Look" in Exotic Gothic 4 (PS Publishing, May 2012)
- "Charm" in Terror Tales of the Cotswolds (Gray Friar Press 2012)
- "Portrait of a Chair" in Dadaoism (Chomu Press 2012)
- "A Posthumous Messiah" in This Hermetic Legislature(Ex Occidente 2012)
- "The Dancer in the Dark" in Visions Fading Fast (Pendragon Press 2012)
- "The Spooks of Shellborough" in Terror Tales of East Anglia (Gray Friar Press 2012)
- "Lord of the Fleas" in Zombie Apocalypse Fightback (Robinson 2012)
- "What Shall We Do About Barker?" in The Screaming Book of Horror (Screaming Dreams 2012)
- "Between Four Yews" in The Ghosts and Scholars Book of Shadows (Sarob Press 2012)and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 24 (Robinson 2013)
- "Didman's Corner" in Shadows and Tall Trees 4. Autumn 2012 (Undertow Publications 2012)
- "Come Into My Parlour in Dark World (Tartarus Press 2013)
- "He Who Beheld the Darkness" in Exotic Gothic 5, Vol. II (PS Publishing 2013)
- "The Day of the Delusionists" in Oxford's Loudest Laughter (Orient International Book House 2013)
- "The Silken Drum" in Faerie Tales, Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome (Jo Fletcher Books 2013)
- "The Green Hour" in Psycho-Mania! (Robinson 2013)
- "Holiday from Hell" in Terror Tales of the Seaside (Gray Friar Press 2013)
- "The Archbishop's Well" in Weirder Shadows over Innsmouth (PS Publishing 2013)
- "The Perfect Author" in Flotsam Fantastique (World Fantasy Convention Souvenir Book 2013)
- "Are they all Horrid? Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale and the validity of Gothic Fiction" in 21st Century Gothic - Great Gothic Novels since 2000 (The Scarecrow Press 2011)
- Introduction to Intrusions by Robert Aickman (Tartarus Press 2012)
- Children of the Night Award 2011 (best work of supernatural fiction 2011) for "Mrs Midnight" (Tartarus Press)
- Arthur Machen Short Story Prize 2005 for “The Silver Cord” in Faunus 12 (FOAM 2005)
- Michael Billington (25 January 2000). "A Farce of Nature". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Dark Horizons, 2003. British Fantasy Society.
- Douglas Campbell, rev. of The Complete Symphonies of Adolf Hitler, All Hallows 41 (February 2006), p. 191.