His name is absent from encyclopaedias but not everyone has forgotten one of the most notable literary figures of his age.

The mysterious HA Manhood was a prolific writer of short stories whose work was acclaimed alongside peers Graham Greene and Dylan Thomas.

However, while Greene and Thomas went on to become literary legends, Manhood gave it all up at the height of his success and disappeared into the Sussex countryside to live in a railway carriage and brew cider.

Now his books are only available in second-hand bookshops and his only novel, Gay Agony (1930), sells mainly as a funny present among the gay community.

The Lost Club, a group dedicated to preserving the memory of forgotten writers, is on a quest to find out more about the archetypal literary outsider whose life's work is preserved in the vaults of the British Library.

They hope friends or surviving family of Manhood, who died in 1991, will be able to fill in the blanks in his bibliography, including the whereabouts of his final resting place.

From the Twenties, Harold Alfred Manhood was a prolific writer of short stories, notable for their rural setting and fable-like quality.

He produced many collections, published by Jonathan Cape in Britain. Gay Agony and collections Crack Of Whips (1934) and Fierce And Gentle (1935) led to him being acclaimed one of the best short-story writers of his generation.

Soon after he became successful, Manhood tired of urban life and bought a plot of land near Henfield.

On it he placed an old railway carriage, which he converted for comfortable living and work.

He is believed to have grown his own produce and is reported to have married. He is thought to have spent his last years in a bungalow next to the carriage.

Writer Frank Herrmann, paying tribute to Manhood in the Bookdealer in 1997, said after the war he began to resent growing editorial interference with his writing and was appalled by the tiny payments he received for his output.

So in 1953 he stopped writing, bought more land, started brewing cider and never wrote another word.

Shortly before his death aged 87, Manhood sold his life's work to the British Library.

It included notebooks of his ideas, early drafts, finished handwritten manuscripts, typescripts, all correspondence with editors and publishers and the reviews of everything he had written.

Roger Dobson of the Lost Club, said: "We don't know where he was born or buried. Although Manhood was quite famous in the Thirties, his work has effectively been forgotten."

Anyone with information on Manhood can write to Mr Dobson at 182 Barns Road, Oxford OX4 3RG or email him at rogeralandobson@hotmail.com