Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.
Pseudonym of Welsh editor and author Howell Davies (1896-1985), who served in the trenches from the beginning of World War One, rising to the rank of Captain, an experience which affected him profoundly; he worked between the Wars as a theatre critic for the Manchester Evening News and as literary editor of the Star and News Chronicle, also serving as editor of the South American Handbook from its founding in 1923 until he retired in 1972. During the brief time he wrote as Marvell – the English metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) had lived a few doors away from Davies's Hampstead home – he published three novels. The Near Future Minimum Man: Or, Time to Be Gone (1938; rev vt Minimum Man 1953) combines sf and thriller ingredients in its depiction of a 1950 fascist coup in the UK (the 1953 edition redates the coup to 1970), and of its overthrow by a new race of tiny but very powerful Telepathic Supermen whose parthenogenetic births were caused by Poison gas and who are almost certain to succeed Homo sapiens on the planet (see Evolution; Great and Small). Three Men Make a World (1939) is a kind of Disaster story, though the depopulation of London, the ruralization of the UK in general, and the absence of any form of World War Two may strike modern readers as a catastrophe with a silver lining. Congratulate the Devil (1939), in which a happiness Drug is found to be intolerable to society at large, describes the process by which its disseminators are hounded to death. Davies's novels were professional and engrossing, and recent evidence as to the two authors' pre-War friendship makes it clear that he clearly influenced John Wyndham, whose post-War novels reflect the wit and gravitas of the older author's work; though long out of print (until the twenty-first century) Davies's three titles as Andrew Marvell remain strongly interesting. [JC/BS]
born Felingwm, near Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire: 3 September 1896
died London: 1985
- Minimum Man: Or, Time to Be Gone (London: Victor Gollancz, 1938) [hb/nonpictorial]
- Minimum Man (London: Science Fiction Book Club, 1953) [rev vt of the above: hb/]
- Three Men Make a World (London: Victor Gollancz, 1939) [hb/nonpictorial]
- Congratulate the Devil (London: Victor Gollancz, 1939) [hb/nonpictorial]
- "'Jellaby' and 'Zellaby': Howell Davies and John Wyndham"
- Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Picture Gallery
previous versions of this entry