John Crowley is an acclaimed American novelist, short story writer, and essayist. He is best known for his works of historical fiction, particularly the four-volume Ægypt series, the middle volume of which, Love & Sleep (1994), was nominated for the World Fantasy Award. Crowley's works are noted for their lyricism, romanticism, and their transgressive explorations of alternative belief systems.
Born in 1942 in Presque Isle, Maine, where he grew up, Crowley attended Catholic schools and then the University of Maine, graduating in 1964 with a degree in English. Following a brief stint in the US Air Force, Crowley began his writing career in academia, teaching English and creative writing at Yale and Harvard. He also worked as a copywriter and editor at an advertising firm in New York City.
Crowley is an important figure in the fantasy genre, having been awarded the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2007. His works often blend elements of fantasy, horror, science fiction, and historical fiction, as well as spiritual, philosophical, and metaphysical themes. His first novel, The Deep (1975), is a science fiction novel set in a post-apocalyptic future. His second novel, Beasts (1976), is a contemporary fantasy set in rural Kentucky.
The Ægypt series, which consists of the novels The Solitudes (1987), Love & Sleep (1994), Dæmonomania (2000), and Endless Things (2007), is often considered to be Crowley's magnum opus. This complex work of historical fiction follows an academic, Pierce Moffett, as he attempts to decipher the mysteries of the Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno. In the process, Pierce becomes embroiled in searching for an ancient and mysterious book, the Clavis, which he believes contains the secrets of the universe.
Crowley's other works of fiction include Little, Big (1981), a sprawling fantasy novel set in a mysterious world; Engine Summer (1979), a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel; and Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr (2018), a retelling of the Finnish epic Kalevala. Crowley has also penned a number of short stories and non-fiction essays, some of which have been collected in the volumes Novelty (1989) and Novelties & Souvenirs (1999).
John Crowley's works have been praised for their intricate plotting, poetic language, and imaginative exploration of the boundaries between science and magic. His profound engagement with questions of faith and his willingness to challenge our assumptions about the nature of reality have earned him a devoted readership and a place among the most important authors of contemporary fantasy.