Category Archives: Witches

Uncollected Stories by Sabine Baring-Gould

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Here’s a treat, if I do say so myself. Six stories by Sabine Baring Gould, most of which first appeared in the periodical Hurst Johnian. The stories were well-nigh unobtainable for many years (even the British Library doesn’t have copies of these particular issues of the journal) until they were reprinted by Sarob Press in 1999 as part of Margery of Quether and other weird stories. This volume too is now out of print, but Richard Morgan of Sarob Press has very kindly consented to my preparing an ebook of the otherwise uncollected stories in that volume. This means that all of Baring-Gould’s known supernatural fiction is now available on this blog – to view more titles by him, click here.

EDIT: As it turns out, there is at least one more uncollected Baring-Gould story, ‘The Witch-Finder’, which I’ll add to the ebook when I get a chance!

Uncollected Stories [Kindle]

Uncollected Stories [Epub]

Uncollected Stories [PDF]

The rather unfortunately named Brown Willey, which features in the story 'Crowdy Marsh'

The rather unfortunately named Brown Willey, which features in the story ‘Crowdy Marsh’

A quick note on the texts:

I’ve scanned most of the stories from the Scarob Press edition, which uses the texts of the original periodical publications. In the case of ‘The Fireman’ and ‘The Old Woman of Wessel’, I’ve used the texts available on Wikisource. As far as I can tell, this version of ‘The Old Woman of Wessel’ is the text of the original periodical publication – but the text of ‘The Fireman’ seems to be from a later American reprint of the story, which may be pirated from Baring-Gould’s original. There are only minor differences, however, none of which materially affect the meaning or significance of the text.

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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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The Lancashire Witches (1848) by William Harrison Ainsworth

Witches 7William Harrison Ainsworth’s fictionalised account of the Pendle Witch trials, which occurred in his native Lancashire during the 16th century, adds a number of overtly supernatural elements. As a result, the novel had a significant impact on the traditional appearance of the witch in the popular imagination, including the trademark black clothes and pointed hat.

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The novel is based on Thomas Potts’s The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster (1603), an edition of which had recently been edited by Ainsworth’s friend, the antiquary James Crossley. Crossley’s edition of Potts’s book is available to download here.

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The illustrations on this page are by John Gilbert.

The Lancashire Witches [Kindle]

The Lancashire Witches [Epub]

The Lancashire Witches [PDF]

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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]

Yule Log Tales 2

‘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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