Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Sheaf of Yule Log Stories (1888) by Rev. A. D. Crake

Yule Log Tales 1

Published in 1888, this is a collection of children’s stories, mostly on a supernatural theme, ‘edited’ by the Rev. A.D. Crake, Chaplain of All Saints’ C of E School, Bloxham and later Vicar of St Peter’s, Havenstreet, Isle of White. In a framing narrative, the author recalls a happy childhood Christmas with his extended family in the English Lakes region. Every evening, the older members of the company would entertain the younger with a suitably exciting or creepy tale as they gathered around the Christmas fire. As this description might suggest, the tales, although often supernatural, are very tame as horror stories. At the same time, however, the narrator’s nostalgic sense of time and place is charming and, on occasion, moving, making the volume a quaint and entertaining read for the festive period. 

Dolmen in the snow  *oil on canvas  *61 x 80 cm  *1807

This is probably the last update before January 2014 – so a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

A Sheaf of Yule Log Stories [Kindle]

A Sheaf of Yule Log Stories [Epub]

A Sheaf of Yule Log Stories [PDF]

Yule Log Tales 2

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Told After Supper (1891) by Jerome K. Jerome

told1 told2

“It was Christmas Eve! Christmas Eve at my Uncle John’s; Christmas Eve (There is too much ‘Christmas Eve’ about this book. I can see that myself. It is beginning to get monotonous even to me. But I don’t see how to avoid it now.) at No. 47 Laburnham Grove, Tooting! Christmas Eve in the dimly-lighted (there was a gas-strike on) front parlour…”

Jerome K. Jerome’s parody of the Victorian ghost story is set on Christmas Eve (as the quotation above may have made clear!) and involves the increasingly discruntled narrator’s attempts to turn a series of tales told by his family and friends into a traditional collection of popular chillers – only to be confounded by unforeseen and disappointingly prosaic obstacles.

Filled with nearly a hundred illustrations by Kenneth M. Skeaping, the original volume is a thing of beauty and is available to view online at the Internet Archive.

Told After Supper [Kindle]

Told After Supper [Epub]

Told After Supper [PDF]

told1 told2

 

The Castle and the Abbey – A Christmas Tale (1846)

Back Entrance of Caldicot Castle, South Wales, engraved by J. Greig published 1811 by Edward Dayes 1763-1804

This little-known Gothic novel was published anonymously at Maidstone in 1846 by J.V. Hall and Son (presumably for the Christmas market). A curious mixture of the Gothic narratives of Ann Radcliffe and the ‘silver fork’ novels so popular in the 1840s, it tells the story of a persecuted heroine whose happy marriage to the handsome young heir of Beaulieu Abbey is threatened by the appearance of the terrible spectre of the Black Monk. Meanwhile, her companion and childhood friend, Cecilia Herbert, has to deal with the sufferings of her mad half-sister. Eventually, the supernatural elements of the novel are rationalised in Radcliffian fashion – but not before a sensational family secret has been revealed.

The Castle and the Abbey [Kindle]

The Castle and the Abbey [Epub]

The Castle and the Abbey [PDF]

BeaulieuAbbey7

Christmas Ghost Stories

 winter landscape (1811)

The first of four festive ebooks I’ve prepared for the blog, this is a collection of Victorian and Edwardian ghost stories with a Christmas (or at least a wintery) setting. There’s nothing startlingly new here – all of these tales have been widely anthologised before – but they’re just the thing for the darkest nights of the year.

Enjoy – and feel free to share with friends!

Christmas Ghost Stories [Kindle]

Christmas Ghost Stories [Epub]

Christmas Ghost Stories [PDF]

 

 

Spook Stories by E.F. Benson

spook stories more spooks   

E.F. Besnon was a prolific writer of fiction across several genres, from the ‘new woman’ novel, Dodo (1893) to the waspish social comedy of the Mapp and Lucia series. He also wrote several popular collections of ‘spook stories’, including the two collected here: Spook Stories (1928) and More Spook Stories (1934) – both volumes are included in the download below.

These were the only two of Benson’s supernatural collection to include the phrase ‘spook stories’ in the title, although Benson used this term to refer to all of his supernatural output. Even so, this blanket appellation hides the diversity of his supernatural fiction, which ranges from the comic, to the genuinely chilling. Pastiche is also a keynote here, with one of the stories, ‘The Hanging of Alfred Wadham’, being an obvious parody of the Catholic stories of Benson’s brother Robert, whose Mirror of Shalott can be downloaded elsewhere on this site.

Spook Stories / More Spook Stories [Kindle]

Spook Stories / More Spook Stories [Epub]

Spook Stories / More Spook Stories [PDF]

The_Benson_Brothers,_1907.