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Dane, Clemence

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Theatre.

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Pseudonym of UK playwright and author Winifred Ashton (1888-1965), best remembered for her many stage plays and for Broome Stages (1931), a tale of the Theatre. Plays of fantasy interest include Adam's Opera: The Text of a Play ... Set to Music by Richard Addinsell (performed 1928; 1928), an expressionistically Equipoisal musical in which the Sleeping Beauty is awoken by a querulously idealistic Adam (see Adam and Eve) into the raucous Media Landscape of contemporary times; and The Saviours (coll of linked plays 1942), in which Merlin awakens Arthur to aid Britain as World War Two looms. As a screenwriter, she collaborated with Curt Siodmak on the script for The Tunnel (1935) directed by Maurice Elvey, based on Bernhard Kellermann's The Tunnel (1913). Some of her own fiction was of genre interest. Legend (1919) concerns a supernatural relationship between a dead writer, her intimates, and her biographer; The Babyons (1927) – for US edition see Checklist below – traces a curse through four generations; The Moon Is Feminine (1938) is a Crosshatch fantasy set in eighteenth-century Brighton, with glimpses of Faerie [for Crosshatch and Faerie see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]; The Arrogant History of White Ben (1939), set in a beleaguered Near Future, gives an animate scarecrow the task of leading the UK out of trouble, with ambiguous results (see Equipoise); The Godson: A Fantasy (1964 chap) describes William Shakespeare's last night in terms of A Midsummer Night's Dream (performed circa 1595; 1600). Some of the stories assembled in Fate Cries Out (coll 1935) are of genre interest.

Though she did not write sf frequently, Dane was long familiar with the form; one of her early essays, "American Fairy Tale" (Autumn 1936 North American Review) provides an interesting take on the genre (as well as a very early use of the term Sense of Wonder in something like its present application): "[The American Pulp magazines] represent a stirring of the ancient sense of wonder, the human love of magic, in a continent poor in legends and peopled by aliens from all over the world. These amazing magazines call themselves 'science fiction'. But they are nothing but America's fairy tales." Dane became known to the sf world late in life when she edited the Novels of Tomorrow series in 1955-1956 for Michael Joseph Ltd, publishing work by John Christopher, C M Kornbluth, Harold Mead, Arthur Sellings and others. [JC]

Winifred Ashton

born Blackheath, Kent: 22 February 1888

died London: 28 March 1965



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