The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep
Intrepid globe-trotting author and journalist
Jackson Elias is the nom-de-plume of an intrepid and globe-trotting author.
Born Elisa Louise Olney in 1896. Her father was a professor of linguistic anthropology; her mother an archaeologist specializing in Native American societies.
Her father, professor Thomas Olney, lived in Kingsport, MA before accepting a position in Henry Armitage’s newly formed philology department at Miskatonic University in 1904. The family was by all accounts happy and productive, until the tragic death of both Olney and his wife, Irene, while on a dig in northern Maine.
Young Elisa was sent to live in an austere Connecticut orphanage. A naturally imaginative and inquisitive child, she found herself stifled by the restrictive rules of the house and was frequently disciplined.
In 1910 she was sent to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, by a wealthy industrialist who took an interest in deprived children. She took easily to the outdoor life, making friends with the ranch hands and becoming a favorite of the staff. When she returned East in the fall, she talked so much about her summer that the other children took to calling her “Jackson” derisively.
Education and Early Career
In 1912 she wrote Armitage asking for his recommendation to a Latin school in Kingsport. The good professor, surprised to hear from the girl, soon became shocked by her life in the orphanage. He and his wife secured her admittance to an excellent boarding school in Arkham, and when she graduated with honors Armitage secured her entry to Miskatonic. One of the first co-eds in the school’s history, she was a middling student, excelling only in literature and history class.
In 1914 she moved to Philadelphia, working as an intern for one of the Kane syndicate papers. She found her assignments to be boring (mostly “ladies lifestyle” pieces), and so took to working on freelance articles for the local journals. Her often inflammatory style earned her a certain notoriety but also the enmity of her editors.
In 1917 she paid for her own passage to France, accompanying the American Expeditionary Force. Supposedly limited to covering the hospitals behind the lines, she managed to sneak several times to the front. The soldiers of New York’s famed “Rainbow Division” took a liking to her, and she even accompanied a platoon on a raid across No-Man’s Land. It was at this time that she adopted the name “Jackson Elias” while filing dispatches, having discovered that they were more likely to run when attached to a male name.
After the war, she remained in Paris for several months, acquiring an abiding love for the city. During this time she became interested in the occult, and debunking it with modern science. She asked Armitage to call in some favors for her, and journeyed to the Amazon as part of the 1920 Miskatonic Expedition. Her monograph on the subject attracted the attention of Prospero Press in New York, and she was contracted to write a book on cults. She departed from the Amazon to Mexico, and then from there to India, gathering information for two books: The Smoking Heart, on the Mayan death cults, and Sons of Death, about modern day Thugee cults. She successfully infiltrated one cult in particular, which earned notice from the British authorities for her daring.
She returned to New York in 1922 to work on her next book, the massive The Way of Terror, her meditation on cult activity throughout history; an excerpt of this focusing on Medieval sorcery was published as Masters of the Black Arts in the Golden Sentinel newspaper.
Prospero expected the book to be delivered in 1924, but she kept begging for more time, insisting she had come across some leads that would shatter the world of occult publishing.
In the evening of February 17, 1925, Jackson Elias was discovered in a hotel room in Midtown New York City by Alphonse Gilbert and William Blont. She had been apparently knocked unconscious by three men who were quickly killed by Gilbert and Blont. She was rushed to nearby French Hospital.
Newspapers made a great deal of the incident next day, talking of a “White Slavery Ring” that had been broken up by Blont and Gilbert. Elias was referred to as the “Woman in White” and many wondered who this young woman was.
On the night of February 18th, during a blackout at the hospital Elias was kidnapped and the two men guarding her murdered. The papers erupted into a frenzy of speculation over this stunning turn of events.
On the morning of February 20th, 1925, two New York State troopers fished a body out of Long Island Sound. It was quickly identified as Elias’s. The pastor of St. John the Divine Cathedral quickly offered to host the funeral, which took place on February 22, 1925.