L. A. Lewis (b. Sheffield, England, 6 February 1899; d. Southall, England, 28 October 1961)
Leslie Allin Lewis was the only child of Arthur Henry Lewis (b. 1872), a brewery expert according to the 1911 UK Census, and Catharine (sometimes Catherine) Mary Ann Allin (1870-1962), who were married at Wantage, Berkshire, in the spring of 1896.
Leslie grew up at the Allin family estate at East Hendred in Berkshire, and was educated at Roysse’s School in Abingdon (now named Abingdon School). As a boy he wrote and illustrated a series of stories about a panther named Blackie. During World War I he joined the Artist’s Rifles, and trained as a pilot, taking his certificate on the Maurice Farman Biplane at the Military School in Ruislip, on 29 May 1917. According to Richard Dalby, he served in France for a year, and after the war he took a course in Aero Engineering, and later earned an Instructor’s license.
His father apparently died before 1925, and after 1926 Leslie lived with his mother and some members of her family in the Finchley area of London, through around 1951, save for a time of service in the R.A.F. during the World War II. In July 1929, he published a story “The Chords of Chaos” in The Theosophist, edited by Annie Besant. His one collection of ten stories, Tales of the Grotesque (London: Philip Allan), came out as part of the “Creeps” series in October 1934. It is one of the best of the volumes of the “Creeps” series, with original tales like “The Tower of Moab” in which a man’s madness is exemplified by his vision of a Babel-like tower. One later tale, “The Author’s Tale,” came out in Terror by Night (1935), edited by Christine Campbell Thomson as part of the “Not at Night” series.
Elizabeth Yeardye Rickell (1897-1988), who had served in Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Crops during World War I, was Leslie’s longtime friend, and she apparently became his common law wife in the early 1950s (there is no official record of their marriage). She told Richard Dalby that her husband destroyed his surviving writings in a fit of depression, and that he long suffered from hallucinations, and from deteriorating physical and mental health during his final years. He died of a heart attack while in hospital in 1961. Tales of the Grotesque has been reprinted three times, expanded by the one uncollected tale, in hardcover by Ghost Story Press in 1994 and 2003, and in trade paperback by Shadow Publishing in 2014, each reprint having an introduction by Richard Dalby.