The University of Heidelberg has digitized its copies of Der Orchideengarten, the world’s first fantasy fiction magazine. Known as ‘The Orchids-garden’ in English, and subtitled Phantastische Blätter or ‘Fantastic Pages’, this German magazine of weird and creepily erotic fiction ran for 51 issues from January 1919 until November 1921. Edited by World War I correspondent and freelance writer Karl Hans Strobl and Alfons von Czibulka, ran for just 24 pages and included works by such literary lumanaries as Voltaire, Charles Nodier, Guy de Maupassant, Théophile Gautier, Victor Hugo, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Charles Dickens, Pushkin, Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving, Amelia Edwards, Nathaniel Hawthorne, H. G. Wells, Valery Bryusov and Karel Čapek. The covers were ghoulishly brilliant and the illustrations within featured work by Gustave Dore, Tony Johannot, Rolf von Hoerschelmann, Otto Linnekogel, Carl Rabus, Otto Nückel and Max Schenke.
“What strikes me about these black-and-white drawings is how different they are in tone to the pulp magazines which followed shortly after in America and elsewhere. They’re at once far more adult and frequently more original than the Gothic clichés which padded out Weird Tales and lesser titles for many years.”
– John Coulthart on Der Orchideengarten