Entry updated 19 December 2020. Tagged: Author.
Working name of Canadian-born author and journalist George Anthony Armstrong Willis (1897-1976), in the UK from infancy, in active service during World War One; a regular contributor to the magazine Punch, usually signing himself A. A. Armstrong began writing as a novelist with two historical fantasies, The Lure of the Past (1920) and The Love of Prince Raameses (1921), which were linked by the common theme of Reincarnation. The historical framework was again used in his Lost World adventure, The Wine of Death: A Tale of the Lost Long-Ago (1925), a bloodthirsty novel about a community of survivors of Atlantis governed by a Monster with a huge brain and tiny body, along the line of H G Wells's Selenites, and with no moral sense. When the Bells Rang: A Tale of What Might Have Been (1943) with Bruce Graeme, is a morale-boosting Alternate History tale of a 1940 Invasion of the UK by the Nazis, and of their subsequent defeat (see Hitler Wins). The Strange Case of Mr Pelham (1957), a Doppelganger tale, was filmed as The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970).
Armstrong's short stories are, by comparison, slight, and are generally humorous. The Prince Who Hiccupped and Other Tales: Being Some Fairy Tales for Grownups (coll 1932) and The Pack of Pieces (coll 1942; vt The Naughty Princess 1945) ring amusing changes on fairytale Fantasy tropes. Of sf note are his two early Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom parodies, "The Visit to Mars" (September 1926 Gaiety) and "The Battlechief of Mars" (October 1926 Gaiety) which briefly outline the extraordinary exploits of one John Waggoner (ie Carter); they have yet to be reprinted. [JE/DRL]
see also: Time Loop.
George Anthony Armstrong Willis
born Esquimalt, British Columbia: 2 January 1897
died Midhurst, Surrey: 10 February 1976
- The Lure of the Past (London: Stanley Paul and Company, 1920) [hb/]
- The Love of Prince Raameses (London: Stanley Paul and Company, 1921) [hb/]
- The Wine of Death: A Tale of the Lost Long-Ago (London: Stanley Paul and Company, 1925) [hb/]
- When the Bells Rang: A Tale of What Might Have Been (London: Harrap, 1943) with Bruce Graeme [hb/Kay]
- The Strange Case of Mr Pelham (London: Methuen, 1957) [hb/]
collections and stories
- The Prince Who Hiccupped and Other Tales: Being Some Fairy Tales for Grownups (London: Ernest Benn, 1932) [coll: illus/hb/L G Illingworth]
- The Pack of Pieces (London: Michael Joseph, 1942) [coll: illus/hb/John R Parsons]
- The Naughty Princess (London: Macdonald, 1945) [coll: vt of the above: illus/hb/A K Macdonald]
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