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With an introduction by Richard Shillitoe


Fantasy & Sci-Fi


Ithell Colquhoun


Peter Owen



Rights available:

Brazilian, Italian


Ithell Colquhoun (1906–1988) was a leading British surrealist artist and writer, whose love of the esoteric and the occult had a profound influence on her work. No where is this more apparent than in the weird and wonderful alchemical novel Goose of Hermogenes. Her works contributed greatly to the British Surrealist movement before and after the Second World War. Her phantasmagorical landscapes and portraits hang on the walls of major galleries around the world. The daughter of a civil servant i...





The heroine of this story (described only as "I") is compelled to visit a mysterious uncle who turns out to be a black magician who lords over a kind of Prospero's Island that exists out of time and space. Startled by his bizarre behavior and odd nocturnal movements, she eventually learns that he is searching for the philosopher's stone. When his sinister attentions fall upon the priceless jewel heirloom in her possession, bewilderment turns into stark terror and she realizes she must find a way off the island.

An esoteric dreamworld fantasy composed of uncorrelated scenes and imagery mostly derived from medieval occult sources, "Goose of Hermogenes" might be described as a gothic novel, an occult picaresque, or a surrealist fantasy. However one wants to approach this obscure tale, it remains today as vividly unforgettable and disturbing as when it was first published by Peter Owen in 1961.

Considered almost impenetrable by the novel’s original editor, Muriel Spark, Goose of Hermogenes has since acquired a legendary status as a work of surrealist fiction.

Illustrated with Colquhoun’s beautiful alchemical paintings, and contextualised by biographer Richard Shillitoe, this new edition can be fully appreciated for its intoxicating strangeness.


‘Lurks somewhere between the territory of Beardsley and Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast … shudderingly enjoyable.'  – Guardian ‘The whole novel possesses a haunting, visionary quality most uncommon in present-day prose.’  – Daily Telegraph ‘An extraordinary book … the descriptions have a gripping hallucinogenic clarity … Part Gothic fantasy, part emblematic progress through a dream world where we are never sure we have the complete key to the meaning, we see the workings of a perceptive and curious painterly eye.’  – Mandrake Speaks