Category Archives: Ghost Stories

The Death Mask and Other Ghosts (1920)

Theo Douglas was the pen-name of British writer Mrs Henrietta Dorothy Everett (1851-1923). This volume contains almost all of Everett’s  ghost stories. Much of her work had supernatural of fantastic elements – some of them very bizarre indeed – but it is for her short fiction that she is best remembered today and was admired at the time by fellow-writer of supernatural tales, M.R. James.

Modern reprints have added two uncollected stories to the original collection (‘The Pipers of Mallory’ and ‘The Whispering Wall’). The edition below is transcribed from the first edition, but I may add these stories at a later date.

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The Death Mask [Kindle]

The Death Mask [Epub]

The Death Mask [PDF]

 

Black Spirits and White (1895) by Ralph Adams Cram

“In ‘The Dead Valley’ the eminent architect and mediævalist Ralph Adams Cram achieves a memorably potent degree of vague regional horror through subtleties of atmosphere and description.”

H.P. Lovecraft

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Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942) was a noted architect of collegiate and ecclesiastical buildings. Born in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire in December 1863, Cram was apprenticed to the architects Rotch and Tilden in Boston, before moving to Rome to study classical architecture. In 1887, he converted to Roman Catholicism. He designed or co-designed the Cathedral of St John the Divine and Saint Thomas Church (both in New York city) but is probably best known as the architect of Princeton University, a major example of his passion for the Gothic Revival in architecture.

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Appropriately, given his penchant for the Gothic in architecture, Cram’s only major foray into fiction is the highly regarded collection of horror stories, Black Spirits and White (1895), whose name derives from Macbeth Act IV, Scene i. Of particular note is the final story in the collection, ‘The Dead Valley’, whose memorable climax was singled out by H.P. Lovecraft as a favourite moment in the history of supernatural fiction.

Black Spirits and White [Kindle]

Black Spirits and White [Epub]

Black Spirits and White [PDF]

The Phantom Ship (1839) by Captain Frederick Marryat

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Captain Frederick Marryat (1792-1848) was an experienced and highly-regarded naval officer, who had fought with distinction in the Napoleonic wars, during which career he also invented a maritime flag signalling system, which bears his name and is still widely used. As if this weren’t enough, he was also a prolific writer of fiction, wildly popular during the nineteenth century and hugely influential in the adventure genre. He is perhaps best known today for his children’s novels, Mr Midshipman Easy (1836) and The Children of the New Forest (1847).

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The Phantom Ship (1839) is his only overtly supernatural novel. It is based on the legend of the Flying Dutchman – a ghostly vessel cursed to sail around the Cape of Good Hope for all eternity. The novel is a sort of sequel to the legend, in which Philip Vanderdecken, the son of the ship’s Dutch captain, battles to save his father from the curse. One particularly memorable section involves an insert story featuring a werewolf, which has been widely anthologised as ‘The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains’.

The Phantom Ship [Kindle]

The Phantom Ship [Epub]

The Phantom Ship [PDF]

The Woodley Lane Ghost and Other Stories (1899) by Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren

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This collection of short stories was published posthumously in 1899, at the behest of Dahlgren’s husband. The ebook I’ve provided here contains only those stories with a macabre or supernatural interest – the full collection contains no fewer than twenty-four stories, most of which fall outside the remit of this blog. Readers can, however, read the full collection at the Hathi Trust website. For information about Dahlgren’s life and her other work, see the biographical and bibliographical notice that accompanies her manuscript holdings at Georgetown University

Happily for lovers of supernatural fiction, the macabre or uncanny stories are probably the best in the collection. The title story is a tale of occult religious practices that blemish the life of a young Doctor’s wife; ‘Who Was She?’ concerns an inn haunted by the mysterious figure of a weeping woman, while ‘A Murder Mystery’ is a bizarre cross between A Tale of Two Cities and ‘Babes in the Wood’, with possible shades of Titus Andronicus. ‘The Fatal Boots’ is a macabre reflection on coincidence and destiny (a perennial preoccupation of Dahlgren’s). ‘My First Patient’ is a wonderfully hokey take on mesmerism, while ‘Earth-Bound’ concerns the otherworldly implications of a jealous husband’s spiteful final vow.

The Woodley Lane Ghost and Other Stories [Kindle]

The Woodley Lane Ghost and Other Stories [Epub]

The Woodley Lane Ghost and Other Stories [PDF]

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Gothic and Supernatural Stories by Elizabeth Gaskell

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Best known for her realistic stories of life in the fictional English village of Cranford, as well as her grittier tales of the experiences of working class families in industrial Manchester, Gaskell was also a master of the ghostly and the Gothic. Her supernatural stories are superior examples of the sentimental ghost tale so typical of the Victorian period, while her Gothic stories combine a taste for the macabre with a deeply-felt sympathy for the extremes of female experience.

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Included in this collection is Gaskell’s first published piece, ‘Clopton Hall’, a brief but atmospheric account of her impressions of an old ancestral house together with a prefatory note from the Knutsford edition of her work. ‘Disappearances’ is a disquieting account of the mysterious circumstances relating to several cases of missing persons. Two of the tales appeared as part of the linked series of stories forming extra Christmas numbers of Charles Dickens’s periodicals Household Words and All the Year Round (‘The Scholar’s Story’ and the ballad ‘The Squire’s Story’ appeared in A Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire, while ‘The Ghost in the Garden Room’, later republished as ‘The Crooked Branch’, appeared in The Haunted House). Also included is Gaskell’s novella of the Salem witch trials, Lois the Witch.

My own personal favourite is ‘The Grey Woman’, a three-part story serialised in All the Year Round concurrently with part of Dickens’s Great Expectations. The story relates the experiences of a young wife forced to flee her husband’s home upon the discovery of a terrible secret. The fast-paced story is an effective combination of the female Gothic of the Romantic period with the adventure chase narratives perfected by John Buchan fifty years later!

The Grey Woman and Others [Kindle]

The Grey Woman and Others [Epub]

The Grey Woman and Others [PDF]

Critical edition:

Gothic Tales, edited by Laura Kranzler (Penguin, 2000)

The texts in this collection are based on HTML versions prepared for the Gaskell WebMy grateful thanks to Professor Mitsu Matsuoka for permission to use these.

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

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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]

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Told After Supper (1891) by Jerome K. Jerome

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“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]

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