Category Archives: Clemence Housman (1861-1955)

More Werewolves

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Below are links to two further significant werewolf books, both from the nineteenth century.

The first is Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book of Were-Wolves, being an account of a terrible superstition (1865). This was my first brush with werewolf literature and I found it an engaging place to start. The work of a hugely prolific author, historian, antiquarian, folklorist and hymn-writer (most famously ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’), Baring-Gould’s is a level-headed and fascinating look at the werewolf tradition in European folklore. The book also takes in the related phenomenon of lycanthropy, culminating in a shocking account of the atrocities committed by the Gilles de Retz. The Book of Were-Wolves is sometimes unfairly dismissed as too dry and scholarly for the modern reader, but Baring-Gould’s linking of legend with accounts of historically-verifiable happenings is effectively achieved and the effect is often unnerving. At the same time, his determination to see the werewolf not as some ‘superphysical’ entity forgotten by modern science, but as a potent feature of the collective memory of myth is a compelling approach to the subject. It can be downloaded in multiple formats from Project Gutenberg.

The second work on the agenda is Clemence Housman’s The Were-Wolf (1896). Housman was the sister of the poet and classicist A.E. Housman and the author Laurence Housman. As well as being a writer, she was an active campaigner for woman’s suffrage. I had hoped to prepare an ebook edition of Housman’s book for download from this blog but, since it’s still in copyright in the UK, I won’t be able to do this. However, since this is one of the earliest examples of the werewolf novel, it would be a shame not to draw attention to the online version at Project Gutenberg. This edition is fully illustrated and available to download in multiple formats!

Werwolf

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