Category Archives: F. Marion Crawford (1854-1909)

Wandering Ghosts (1903) by F. Marion Crawford

F. CRAWFORD COVER

Francis Marion Crawford was a prolific and popular author of fiction on both sides of the Atlantic at the turn of the last century, producing countless novels and short stories as well as several plays and a number of historical works about Italy. Crawford was an American citizen, but was widely travelled, having been born to an artistic American family in Italy and attending school in India. Today, he is perhaps best known for his supernatural fiction, his reputation resting largely on this collection of tales published in 1903.

F_Marion_Crawford

 

The collection contains his most-anthologised story, ‘The Upper Berth’, which can also be downloaded elsewhere on this blog, where it can be read in the context of its original publication as part of The Broken Shaft, T. Fisher Unwin’s Christmas Annual for 1885. Also in the collection is Crawford’s unsettling vampire story, ‘For the Blood is the Life’.

Wandering Ghosts [Kindle]

Wandering Ghosts [Epub]

Wandering Ghosts [PDF]

F. CRAWFORD frontispiece

Frontispiece to the first edition, illustrating a scene from ‘The Screaming Skull’

 

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The Broken Shaft: Tales in Mid-Ocean (1886) edited by Henry Norman

Portrait_of_Sir_Henry_Norman,_1st_Baronet

This special anthology was published in 1885 (dated 1886) by T. Fisher Unwin as that year’s Unwin’s Christmas Annual. It is formed of seven stories, together with an introductory chapter setting up a framing narrative by Henry Norman (pictured above), which is returned to at the end of each subsequent tale. This connecting narrative concerns a group of travellers on a transatlantic crossing. When their ship, the Bavaria suffers a ‘broken shaft’, they are forced to remain becalmed mid-ocean, telling stories to pass the time.

As well as being an entertaining collection of late-Victorian short fiction in its own right, the annual represents the original publication of three classic supernatural stories – ‘The Upper Birth’ by F. Marion Crawford, ‘Markheim’ by Robert Louis Stevenson and ‘Marjory’ by F. Anstey. The other stories in the collection are; ‘The Action to the World’ by Walter Herries Pollock, ‘My Fascinating Friend’ by William Archer, ‘Riley, M.P.’ by Tighe Hopkins and ‘Love and Lightning’ by Henry Norman. A charming literary-historical feature is the caricatured versions of the writers, who figure as themselves in the framing narratives. Crawford is referred to as ‘the Novelist’, Stevenson as ‘the Romancer’, Pollock as ‘the Editor’ and Archer as ‘the Critic’ while, as a contemporary review from the Princetonian (the Princeton University newspaper) points out, ‘Beatrice’ and ‘the Eminent Tragedian’ are easily identifiable as Ellen Terry and Henry Irving (this anonymous review, together with another from the Saturday Review,  is included below as a curiosity).

The Broken Shaft: Tales in Mid-Ocean [Kindle]

The Broken Shaft: Tales in Mid-Ocean [Epub]

The Broken Shaft: Tales in Mid-Ocean [PDF]

Two contemporary reviews