David Lindsay was born on the third of March, 1878, in London. The youngest of three children, he had a
brother, Alexander - nine years older, and a sister, Margaret, who was five years older.
He was brought up in London and Jedburgh (in South East Scotland, close to the border), where his
father's relatives lived. He is said to have been quiet, shy and lonely, and was obviously clever, as he won
a scholarship to go to university. His father (also Alexander) disappeared - they thought him dead, but later
he was found to have deserted them - and this left them in severe hardship, so David had to give up his
hopes of university and go to work as an insurance clerk at Lloyds of London.
In 1915 his brother Alexander - also a writer - died, and David is said to have been at his deathbed.
Alexander's death may have had a part in inspiring David to write seriously, although David himself said he
had always intended to be a writer. He served for two years as a conscript in the Grenadier Guards during
the 1914-1918 war, without being sent overseas.
At the end of the war, David married Jacqueline Silver, a London girl eighteen years his junior, despite
having had a long engagement to a Scottish cousin. These relationships seem to inspire figures in 'The
Haunted Woman' (1922), 'The Violet Apple' (written in the twenties but not published until 1976) and
'Devil's Tor' (published in 1932 but also begun in the early twenties), all of which feature broken
engagements, and attachments between young women and older men.
After their marriage, David and Jacqueline Lindsay moved to Cornwall, where Lindsay wrote 'A Voyage to
Arcturus' - though he called it 'Nightspore on Tormance'; the better-known title was suggested by his
publisher, along with significant shortening. The first edition sold 576 copies and was remaindered, but it
was recognised as a work of genius by many who read it. Its influence is evident in C.S. Lewis's 'Cosmic
Trilogy', particularly in 'Perelandra' (or 'Voyage to Venus' - another publisher's name change); it also
shows in 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader' from the Chronicles of Narnia.
He followed Arcturus with 'The Haunted Woman', which he began offering unsuccessfully to publishers in
April 1921. The Daily News serialized a heavily cut version, and in 1922, Methuen agreed to publish the
novel, but it met with little success.
Around 1922-1923, he wrote 'The Ancient Tragedy', an early version of 'Devil's Tor' and also 'Sphinx',
which was published by John Long in 1923. 'Sphinx' was perhaps the hardest Lindsay novel to find before
it was re-issued in 1988 in the UK by Xanadu; there was a serious flaw in this edition, which however does
not badly spoil the book, and the introduction by Colin Wilson is worth reading. The full original text is now
available in the RESONANCE BookWorks edition.
'The Violet Apple' was finished in 1924, but failed to find a publisher even after it was re-written in 1926. It
remained unpublished until 1976, long after Lindsay's death.
'The Adventures of Monsieur de Mailly' was published in 1926 in Great Britain, and less appropriately as
'Blade for Sale' in the same year in the United States. It was not re-issued until the RESONANCE
BookWorks edition of 2009.
While living in Cornwall, the Lindsays had two daughters, Diana and Helen, and by 1928, difficulties with
money forced them to move to Ferring, in Sussex.
In the meantime, Devil's Tor had been re-written many times over. Lindsay called it his 'monster' and
considered it his masterpiece. It was finally published in 1932, but did not sell well.
After Devil's Tor, Lindsay began to work on 'The Witch', which he called 'one of the world's greatest books'.
They had little money, and in 1938, Jacqueline Lindsay took a loan and set up a guest-house in Hove,
East Sussex, to support the family. During the 1939-1945 war, the guest house became lodgings for naval
officers, and the first bomb of the war to fall in the Brighton-Hove area landed on their house while Lindsay
was taking a bath. It did not explode, but it severely shocked him.
The marriage was under a lot of strain, and Lindsay stayed in his room writing 'The Witch'.
His sister Margaret wrote of him to a friend:
'He is ill mentally and physically... He is shutting himself in his top room and not even letting the woman in
'For a week he fasted entirely and since then I have been taking trays up to him. The last ten days I have
persuaded him to come down - he looks awful.'
He refused to get treatment for rotten teeth, which led eventually to his death from blood poisoning and
anaemia on July 16th 1945.
It was 'A Voyage to Arcturus' that made his reputation; it continued to inspire interest after his death, and
Gollancz re-issued it in 1948, and again in 1963. It became popular with the psychedelic movement and
with readers of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, who had praised it.
In 2008, RESONANCE BookWorks published an edition of 'A Voyage to Arcturus' under the earlier title
'Nightspore on Tormance'. We felt there was no longer any need for the easier title chosen by Gollancz
and that Lindsay's title added to the book's effect, drawing attention, as it does, to the apparent absence
If you haven't already found Murray Ewing's excellent site, The Violet Apple, dedicated to
Lindsay's life and work, I heartily recommend you visit it now.