David Lindsay

UK flag (1878 - 1945)

David Lindsay was a Scottish author now most famous for the philosophical science fiction novel A Voyage to Arcturus (1920).

Lindsay was born into a middle-class Scottish Calvinist family who had moved to London, although growing up he spent much time in Jedburgh, where his family originally came from. Although he won a scholarship to university, he was forced by poverty to go into business and he became an insurance clerk at Lloyd's of London. He was very successful but, after serving in the First World War, at the age of forty, he moved to Cornwall with his young wife to become a full-time writer. He published A Voyage to Arcturus in 1920 but it was not a success, selling fewer than six hundred copies. This extremely strange work was not obviously influenced by anybody, but further reading shows links with other Scottish fantasists (for example, George MacDonald), and it was in its turn a central influence on C. S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet.

Lindsay attempted to write a more "commercial" novel with his next work The Haunted Woman (1922), but this was barely more successful than theVoyage. He continued to write novels, including the humorous potboiler The Adventures of Monsieur de Mailly, but after Devil's Tor in 1932 he found it increasingly difficult to get published, and spent much of his time on his last work The Witch which was unpublished in his lifetime.

He and his wife opened a boarding house in Brighton, but they did not prosper and their marriage underwent considerable strain. The house was damaged by the first bomb to fall on Brighton in the Second World War and Lindsay, who was in his bath at the time, never recovered from the shock. His death from an infection resulting from an abscess in his tooth was unrelated to the bomb.

Genres: Science Fiction
Anthologies containing stories by David Lindsay
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Short stories
The Violet Apple [short story] (1975)
The Witch (1975)