Richard C McNeff is the author of the cult short story ‘Sybarite among the Shadows’ which first appeared in International Times and was then widely published, including in Russia and the USA. This grew into his occult and espionage themed novel, Aleister Crowley MI5, which was hailed by the Independent on Sunday as “so different from what you usually find on a bookshelf it should perhaps be a compulsory purchase.” He also wrote With Barry Flanagan: Travels through Time and Spain, a memoir which grew out of his experience of curating shows for the sculptor and the satire, The Dream of Boris. Martin Davies, owner of Barbary Press, described this as “art writing at its best, self-deprecating prose that makes every page a delight.” Richard has contributed to the Guardian, Fortean Times, art catalogues and Boulevard Magenta. He has lived and worked in Barcelona, the Basque Country, Ibiza and Baku. His current home is London where he was born.
Paperback release 15 January 2021. published by Mandrake of Oxford. Available for pre-order from Amazon, Mandrake and all good booksellers. Second edition, revised and retitled, of Sybarite among the Shadows (2004).
Aleister Crowley MI5
Richard C McNeff
£9.99+p&p / US$14.99+p&p
Published by Mandrake of Oxford.
An unsettling encounter with Aleister Crowley in a Soho pub launches Dylan Thomas on an adventure whose first stop is the opening of the Surrealist Exhibition on June 11, 1936. With the Welsh poet is his first editor Victor Neuburg, the Beast’s lapsed apprentice. In the bohemian fleshpots of Fitzrovia and Soho they connect with such luminaries of the period as Nina Hamnett, Augustus John, Tom Driberg, King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, as well as Crowley himself. Neuburg confronts the terrifying magick of his youth and something even more menacing — a Crowley orchestrated MI5 plot to avert the abdication. Aleister Crowley MI5 is an exhilarating work of fiction with highly researched fact at its core.
'McNeff's book is so different from anything you usually find on a bookshelf that it should perhaps be a compulsory purchase...shines a flickering light on the British avant-garde. '
Independent on Sunday
'Probably the finest modern novel featuring Aleister Crowley.'
'A swaggering romp of a novel. Plot by Buchan; characters by Beardsley; setting Art Deco — difficult to better that.'
'Aleister Crowley, mountaineer, mage and magician, has been the basis for a number of fictional characters — Somerset Maugham's Oliver Haddo, M. R. James' Karswell, Anthony Powell's Scorpio Murtlock, Dennis Wheatley's Mocata and even Ian Fleming's Le Chiffre in the first James Bond story, Casino Royale. Rarely has he appeared in fiction as himself. Here, in a highly researched story he is himself in all his occult and charismatic glory — a manipulative, overbearing, bizarre yet compelling character. Fiction could hardly have invented him: he is a gift of a character to any novelist and Richard C McNeff has accepted him, unwrapped the parcel and given him his head.’
Martin Booth, author of A Magick Life
'Full of fascinating nuggets. Neuburg's crisis of identity with AC is very well observed.'
Snoo Wilson, author of I, Crowley
‘Crowley in this incarnation is vividly brought to life. The milieu, too, is both more real and more glamorous, the Fitzrovia of old, haunted by painters, poets and hangers-on, and the notorious Gargoyle Club on Meard Street, where 1930s socialites smoked opium and rubbed shoulders – perhaps – with disgraced royalty.’
James Bridle, ‘The Sybaritic British Empire’
'... a well-researched fictional account of the relationship between Crowley and Neuburg.'
Glossary of Thelema
‘The characterisation is quite subtle so Dylan Thomas is comic and raucous, but – as a poet – ultimately earnest. Aleister Crowley remains a mysterious and ambivalent figure, and is certainly a more rounded character here than as Oliver Haddo (probably his best known fictional alter-ego). 1930s London is well depicted, with plenty of realistic period detail. This is an unusual and intriguing novel and an entertaining foray into an earlier, stranger England.’
Paul Kane, Compulsive Reader
For more about Sybarite and writings on Crowley and Neuburg
Deceived Kingdom second edition, retitled, updated and revised.
A week after the 2016 referendum, Boris Johnson baffled the Great British Public by pulling out of the Tory leadership contest.But why, when he seemed a dead cert to win? The answer - revealed here for the first time - lies in the dystopian dream he had the night before. Allegedly.
It is 2026.The United Kingdom is no longer united; in fact, it doesn't exist. Boris rules what’s left of England where online referendums decide everything, with the issues thrashed out nightly on EastEnders. The Caliphate threatens from north and west. An invasion force embarks in Europe. The Queen is in exile in Germany; Harry beachcombing in the South Pacific; Charles a crofter on Skye; William about to assume the mantle of King Arthur and lead the pagans of the West. All are bent on revenge. Yet most menacing of all is the figure released from the mirror of Doctor Dee in Buckingham Palace, who hounds Boris at the Bullingdon Club reunion and then pursues him into space — David, Spirit of Britain, shapeshifting from Ziggy Stardust to Major Tom. A vision that not even Boris can ignore.
“It’s a hoot! Many jokes: fantastical twists and turns.”— Tony Peake, author of North Facing
“Brilliantly written post-Brexit satire in the tradition of Swift, Voltaire and Vonnegut.”— S.Allman
“Imaginative plot, greatly humorous, this vividly written satire would make a great television series.”— Andy Merriman, author of Hattie: The Authorised Biography of Hattie Jacques
“It is - all at once - biting satire, science fiction fantasy, contemporary lampoon, surreal romp and stand-up comedy. It'll have you cursing at the turn of history it so skilfully derides while chuckling into your post-Brexit porridge.” — Robert Nurden, journalist and author of Between Heaven and Earth.
The Dream of Boris was previously published as Deceived Kingdom, which in 2017 accurately foretold Prince Harry drinking kava in the South Pacific, “a most uncivil war”, and the elevation of Kate Hoey and Gisela Stuart to the Lords. Coincidentally, Deceived Kingdom used the same alias for Boris Johnson, “Marmaduke”, that he himself adopted for the rejected screenplay he wrote in 2015, Mission to Assyria.
Click on the link to hear Swedish Radio on Brexit books and Deceived Kingdom, with an interview with the author.
With Barry Flanagan: Travels through Time and Spain (Lilliput Press)
WITH BARRY FLANAGAN is a vivid account of a friendship that evolved into a working relationship when Richard McNeff became ‘spontaneous fixer’ (Flanagan’s description) of the sculptor’s show held in June 1992 at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Ibiza, where they were both living. McNeff was to gain a privileged insight into the sculptor’s singular personality and eccentric working methods, learning to decipher his memorably surreal turns of phrase and to parry his fascinating, if at times unsettling, pranksteresque quirks.
In September 1992 Flanagan and McNeff took the show to Majorca, resulting a lively visit to the celebrated Spanish artist Miquel Barceló. The following year McNeff was involved in Flanagan’s print-making venture in Barcelona and in his Madrid retrospective. Flanagan rescued him from a rough landing in England in 1994 by commissioning a tour of stone quarries there. Subsequently McNeff ran into a fourteen-year-old profoundly deaf girl who turned out to be his unknown daughter. She had a talent for art and the generous sculptor was instrumental in helping with her studies.
Late in 2008 Barry was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. By June 2009 he was wheelchair-bound. Two months later he died, and McNeff read the lesson at his funeral. Fleshed out with biographical detail, much of it supplied by the sculptor himself, supplemented by photographs and details of the work, this touching memoir is the first retrospective of a major Welsh-born artist. With Barry Flanagan captures the spirit of this remarkable Merlinesque figure in a moving portrait that reveals a true original.
ISBN: 978 1 84351 322 3 - hardback (also in Kindle) - Lilliput Press
"It is a very personal and often hilarious recollection of McNeff's support of Flanagan ... a compelling portrait of this great artist."
Barbara Dawson: Irish Arts Review
"Your book is so rich in Barry-lore and response to his work that it more or less makes other biographies unnecessary."
Catherine Lampert (former director of the Whitechapel Gallery)
"This book is chock full of 'Flanagan anecdotes' and as a reader I felt like I was being let in on a secret of these bohemian artists who had lived in Ibiza and their hippy and boozy lives. It is a fascinating account and whether you are familiar with Flanagan's artistic work or not, this is an extremely interesting biography which is a great read that will leave you more knowledgeable about the artist as well as entertained by the stories."
The Dublin Duchess
"A cracking memoir - funny, informative, elegiac and thought-provoking. Barry Flanagan cast leaping leporines, spent his final years on Ibiza and was born in Prestatyn (where I attended a wonderfully 1930s prep school), but these bare factoids are also connected with the fundamental laws of the Universe. He was actually a magician with words and ideas, and his playful probing into public minds and private lives was worthy of Gandalf himself. Ibizaholics will delight in McNeff's expert skewering of island life and mores, while the artist's hilarious two-step with museum directors and local hacks is sheer joy. The journey into Flanagan's Jarryesque modus operandi is art writing at its best, self-deprecating prose that makes every page a delight. Lilliput Press have risen magnificently to the occasion with pruned-back design, a sensible typeface, nice, creamy paper plus a sprinkling of helpful illustrations. In short, like a glittering vernissage you cannot afford to miss."
Martin Davies (founder of Barbary Press, Ibiza)
Miquel Barceló i Barry Flanagan. Cerámiques i Dibuxos
Enrique Juncosa, Elena Ruiz Sastre y Richard McNeff 2012
Contains my first-hand account of the Barry Flanagan and Miquel Barcelo's initial encounter at the latter's house on Majorca in English, Spanish and Catalan.
Publisher: Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Ibiza, Ajuntament D'Eivissa
Miquel Barceló and Barry Flanagan, Ceramics and Drawings, published to coincide with the exhibition of the artists' work at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Ibiza 27 of April to 31 October 2012.
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