Monthly Archives: July 2013

New Page Added

I’ve just added a new page to the blog, containing a select bibliography of useful books, journals and web pages on the subject of supernatural, gothic and horror fiction.

Any suggestions for improvement or additions would be gratefully appreciated. You can send these via the Contact form at the top of the blog.

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In the Dwellings of the Wilderness (1904) by C. Bryson Taylor

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Charlotte Bryson Taylor’s first novel was published in 1904 by Henry Holt and Company. It is a haunting tale of American archaeologists in Egypt, who get more than they bargained for when they excavate an ancient tomb and break open a door marked ‘Forbidden’ (never a good idea). A curious blend of the antiquarian ghost story and the imperial quest romance, Taylor must have been influenced by Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903). Her own novel has proved to have an equally lasting effect on the ‘mummy’s curse’ genre, however, to the extent that pretty much any subsequent film or literary endeavour depicting a revivified mummy in an Egyptian setting can be said to be indirectly influenced by this book. The sense of mounting horror and the haunting ambiguity of the ending still make this a genuinely unsettling read.

More about the author can be found at Douglas A. Anderson’s absolutely invaluable Lesser-Known Writers blog.

In the Dwellings of the Wilderness [Kindle]

In the Dwellings of the Wilderness [Epub]

In the Dwellings of the Wilderness [PDF]

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The Castle of Wolfenbach (1793) by Eliza Parsons

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The Castle of Wolfenbach (1793) is a Gothic novel in the Ann Radcliffe mould. Written by Eliza Parsons (1739-1811) for the Minerva Press, it has since become notorious as one of the ‘horrid novels’ discussed by the protagonists of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1818). However, recent critical work on the ‘Northanger novels’ has not only rescued them from obscurity, but also revealed them to be historically important works in their own right.

Parsons wrote to support her family after the death of her husband, and found a ready market in the customers of William Lane’s circulating library. Lane’s Minerva Press provided the library’s subscribers with a steady flow of thrilling Gothic fictions to fulfil their appetite for tales involving imperilled young ladies, haunted castles and mysterious pasts – not to mention playing to anti-French, anti-Catholic sentiments and a terror of social subversion, which was sweeping through Britain in the wake of the French revolution.

The text used as the basis for this e-book is from the Celebration of Women Writers project. My thanks to Mary Mark Ockerbloom for allowing me to use her HTML edition.

The Castle of Wolfenbach [Kindle]

The Castle of Wolfenbach [Epub]

The Castle of Wolfenbach [PDF]

Critical edition:

The Castle of Wolfenbach, edited and introduced by Diane Long Hoeveler (Valancourt Books, 2006)

‘Margery of Quether’ (1891) and A Book of Ghosts (1904) by Sabine Baring-Gould

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‘Margery of Quether’ is Sabine Baring-Gould’s unusual vampire story. Published in 1891 in a collection also containing four non-supernatural tales, it tells the story of a very uncommon romance that blossoms between a young Dartmoor squire and a seventeenth-century witch who has been cursed with eternal life – but not eternal youth.

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A Book of Ghosts is also included in this ebook. Published in 1904, it collects almost all of the many ghost stories composed by Baring-Gould in the second half of the nineteenth century for the periodical press. These tales were produced as part of an immensely prolific career, encompassing not just fiction, but topography, hagiography, antiquarian research and several well-known hymns (among them ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’).

‘Margery of Quether’ and A Book of Ghosts [Kindle]

‘Margery of Quether’ and A Book of Ghosts [Epub]

‘Margery of Quether’ and A Book of Ghosts [PDF]

Critical editions:

Margery of Quether and Other Weird Tales, edited by Richard Dalby (Sarob Press, 1999) [as well as ‘Margery of Quether’, the collection also includes several very rare uncollected weird tales by Baring-Gould]

A Book of Ghosts, edited by Richard Dalby (Ash-Tree Press, 1996) [contains a comprehensive introduction, all the stories in the 1904 edition, plus an uncollected tale, ‘The Old Woman of Wesel’]

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More information on Baring-Gould and his work can be found at the website of the Sabine Baring-Gould Appreciation Society. Details on his non-fiction Book of Werewolves (1865) can be found in an earlier post on this blog, together with a link to a downloadable version of the full text. I hope to produce a future ebook for this blog containing Baring-Gould’s uncollected ghost stories. In the meantime, two of these can be accessed on Wikisource:

‘The Fireman’ (1871)

‘The Old Woman of Wesel’ (1905)

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The illustrations in this post are from the first edition of A Book of Ghosts and are by D. Murray Smith. For details of which particular stories and scenes they illustrate, see the HTML text, available at Project Gutenberg.

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The Ghost of Guir House (1897) by Charles Willing Beale

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Charles Willing Beale’s theosophical romance, was published in 1897 at the height of the late-Victorian ‘spiritualist’ craze. An engineer, entrepreneur and noted athlete, Beale was also the author of the science-fiction novel The Secrets of the Earth (1898). Concerning a haunted house which holds the key to a love stronger than death, the novel is heavily influenced by the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891). In 1875, Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society, which aimed to promote the ‘essential oneness’ of all life. Blavatsky was herself the author of a series of weird stories, published posthumously as Nightmare Tales (1892), which will be added to the blog at a later date.

The cover pictured above is that of the first paper-wrapped version and is derived from R.B. Russell’s excellent Guide to Supernatural Fiction, at Tartarus Press. The digital matte painting of a haunted house (below) is from Chilling Tales – I have been unable to trace the artist.

The Ghost of Guir House [Kindle]

The Ghost of Guir House [Epub]

The Ghost of Guir House [PDF]

Critical edition:

Five Victorian Ghost Novels, edited by E.F. Bleiler (Dover Publications, 1971)

 

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Tales of Terror and Wonder by M.G. Lewis and Others

NPG D12778; 'Tales of wonder!' by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey

This is a compendium of late-eighteenth-century Gothic ballads, published in 1887 and comprising the contents of two collections: the anonymous Tales of Terror (1801) and M.G. Lewis’s collection, Tales of Wonder (1800). The style and subject matter of the poems will be familiar to all readers of Gothic literature from this period, being full of maidens in distress, brave knights, medieval trappings, ecclesiastical ruins and an array of ghosts, demons, goblins and sprites. Some of the pieces are not for the faint-of-heart – the word ‘gore’ appears twenty times across the two collections! Indeed, Lewis’s writing approaches knowing self-parody at times and his approach is often as blackly comic as it is horribly gruesome. There is more than a hint of this in the image above – James Gillray’s cartoon “Tales of wonder!” (1802) – which lampoons the presumed reading public to which Lewis (pictured below) catered. For an insightful analysis of the cartoon, see the first chapter of E.J. Clery’s The Rise of Supernatural Fiction (Cambridge University Press, 1995). The illustration at the bottom of the post depicts a scene from Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Glenfinlas’, which Lewis included in Tales of Wonder.

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Textually, these volumes have proved notoriously problematic for scholars. Henry Morely, who edited this compilation for his ‘Universal Library’ series provides an introduction which, while charming in its biographical details, is entirely spurious in its description of the tales’ bibliographical history. I have used Morley’s texts, which are by far the most conveniently available in the public domain, but have corrected the dates of the individual collections. For a useful discussion of the tales and their publishing history, see Douglass H. Thomson’s annotated edition of Sir Walter Scott’s related Apology for Tales of Terror (1799), with which the anonymous Tales of Terror (1801) is often confused, as well as Thomson’s essay on the tales, ‘Mingled Measures: Gothic Parody in Tales of Wonder and Tales of Terror.

Tales of Terror and Wonder [Kindle]

Tales of Terror and Wonder [Epub]

Tales of Terror and Wonder [PDF]

Critical edition:

Lewis, M.G., Tales of Wonder, edited by Douglass H. Thomson (Broadview Press, 2009)

If anyone knows of a critical edition of Tales of Terror, I would love to hear from you, so that I can add the details to this post – see the contact form at the top of the blog.

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