Tag Archives: 19th century

Nightmare Tales (1892) by Helena P. Blavatsky

 nightmare tales

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was a Russian occultist, best known for forming the Theosophical Society in 1875. Theosophy is an esoteric religion, albeit one that shares several ideas with Hinduism and Buddhism. Still practised today, its central tenet posits the notion of a universal spiritual humanity based on a shared reclamation of ancient wisdom – an ur-knowledge once widely known but long-since lost. The society lasted until as recently as 2011, when it split into several smaller organisations. Blavatsky’s ideas were set forth in her densely written treatise The Secret Doctrine (1888).

Blavatsky’s Theosiophical outlook underlies her one collection of fictional writing, Nightmare Tales (1892), which foreshadows the ‘weird fiction’ tradition of horror in its hints that not all ancient knowledge is beneficial – some strands might be best left to lie.

Nightmare Tales [Kindle]

Nightmare Tales [Epub]

Nightmare Tales [PDF]

The Theosophical society’s HTML edition gives the estimated dates of the stories’ original composition and the website also contains information about Blavatsky’s life and work. Paganini’s ‘Dance of the Witches’, which features prominently in ‘The Ensouled Violin’ can be heard (for free) at the excellent Classical Music Online.

400px-Blavatsky.020

Weird Stories (1882) by Charlotte Riddell

Mrsriddell4a

A classic of Victorian supernatural fiction, this collection contains some of the best of Riddell’s ghost stories. Although it does not contain her complete supernatural writings, it was her only published collection of exclusively supernatural fiction. A bibliography of her supernatural writings can be found at the excellent Guide to Supernatural Fiction.

Born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1832, Charlotte Elizabeth Cowan was a prolific writer of novels and short stories and her income from writing helped to maintain her married life with the civil engineer Joseph Hadley Riddell, who was often in debt. When Riddell died in 1880, Charlotte became the first pensioner of the Society of Authors, who paid her £60 a year from 1901 until her death from cancer four years later. Charlotte Riddell began writing under the pseudonym F.G. Trafford, but subsequently adopted the Victorian convention of publishing under her husband’s name as Mrs J.H. Riddell.

The stories themselves tend to belong to the sentimental Victorian ghost story tradition, in which ghosts are seldom malevolent but rather are intent on rectifying some unfinished business, such as exposing an injustice or attempting a reconciliation. What distinguishes them is a fine capacity for description – both of landscape and of individual characters, which are vividly evoked and are often as compelling in themselves as the supernatural problems that beset them. More information on Riddell can be found at Michael Flowers’s dedicated website and at the useful Wikipedia page.

Weird Stories [Kindle]

Weird Stories [Epub]

Weird Stories [PDF]

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wunderschoen/2986677765/

Dracula’s Guest (1914) by Bram Stoker

Draculasguest

Stoker’s posthumous collection of uncollected tales includes a ‘deleted scene’ from his best known novel Dracula (1897), in which Jonathan Harker has a close encounter with a werewolf. The collection also contains ‘The Judge’s House’, a highly regarded haunted house mystery heavily influenced by the work of Stoker’s fellow Irishman Sheridan Le Fanu. The collection’s Wikipedia page contains details of the stories’ original periodical publication, where known.

Dracula’s Guest [Kindle]

Dracula’s Guest [Epub]

Dracula’s Guest [PDF]

DRAC1

Critical edition:

Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories, edited by Kate Hebblethwaite (Penguin, 2006)

Biography:

Lisa Hopkins, Bram Stoker: A Literary Life (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

Critical studies (selected):

Carol A. Senf, Bram Stoker (Gothic Texts: Critical Revisions (University of Wales Press, 2010)

Bram Stoker’s Notes for Dracula: A Facsimile Edition, edited by Robert Eighteen-Bisang and Elizabeth Miller (McFarland, 2008)

David Glover, Vampires, Mummies and Liberals: Bram Stoker and the Politics of Popular Fiction (Duke University Press, 1996)

Madam Crowl’s Ghost and Other Stories (1923) by Sheridan Le Fanu

lefanudrawing

This is a posthumous collection of ghost stories by Sheridan Le Fanu which, at the time of publication, remained uncollected since their original appearance in various Victorian periodicals, most notably the Dublin University Magazine and Charles Dickens’s All the Year Round. The collection was edited by M.R. James, upon whose fiction Le Fanu was a great influence. As well as selecting the stories, James also provided an introductory note, a bibliography and a brief bibliographic introduction to each story in the collection. The original title was ‘Madam Crowl’s Ghost and Other Tales of Mystery’, but I’ve shortened it here in order that it might better fit the screen of an e-reader.

Madam Crowl’s Ghost [Kindle]

Madam Crowl’s Ghost [Epub]

Madam Crowl’s Ghost [PDF]

James’s collection led to a revival of interest in Le Fanu studies and he would no doubt have been pleased to know that an open access journal dedicated to the author is published twice yearly.

Most of Le Fanu’s short fiction can be read online here. More of James’s own thoughts on Le Fanu’s writing can be found in his unpublished lecture on the author, available at the Ghosts & Scholars website.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

‘The Vampyre’ by John Polidori and ‘Fragment of a Novel’ by Lord Byron

Vampyre_title_page_1819

Here are two vampire stories from the early nineteenth century. Fans of horror fiction will not need to be told about the famous ghost story contest between the giants of Romantic literature that gave rise to Polidori’s tale (just in case they do, however, Polidori’s own ‘Introduction’ provides this!)

Polidori was secretary to Lord Byron, whose unfinished ‘fragment’ of a vampire story is said to have been the inspiration for Polidori’s more famous attempt. Both tales were first published in 1819.

‘The Vampyre’ and ‘Fragment of a Novel’ [Kindle]

‘The Vampyre’ and ‘Fragment of a Novel’ [Epub]

‘The Vampyre’ and ‘Fragment of a Novel’ [PDF]

Facsimile editions of ‘The Vampyre’ and the ‘Fragment’ can be found at Google Books and the Internet Archive, respectively.

le_vampire_John_William_Polidori

Detail from ‘The Kiss’ by G. Baldry – suitably vampiric!

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’

 

Through the Night (1882) by Isabella Banks

Through the Night Cover (337x521)

Isabella Banks (born Isabella Varley and sometimes identified as Mrs G. Linnaeus Banks after her marriage to George) is best known for her novels and poems of life in the north of England, the most famous being The Manchester Man (1876).

Through the Night white woman (574x405)

This rare collection of Banks’s supernatural fiction was published in 1882. As well as several excellent Victorian ghost stories, the collection also includes entertaining accounts of folklore and the charming fairy tale, ‘Larry’s Apprenticeship’. This edition is based on the text of the first edition, specifically on the MS Word version prepared for the Salamanca Corpus digitisation project. The project aims to provide source documents for the study of British dialects. I extend my grateful thanks to Dr Javier Ruano-Garcìa, who produced the Salamanca transcription, and to Dr Maria F. Garcia-Bermeja Giner, the project leader, for permission to use their work. I have also consulted the text of the second ‘cheap’ edition, digitised by the Bodleian Library and available here.

Through the Night [Kindle]

Through the Night [Epub]

Through the Night [PDF]

Through the Night Cover piper's ghost (653x612)

Frivola (1896)

Haunted Library

Augustus Jessopp (1823-1914) was a schoolteacher, cleric and antiquary, and was also a prolific writer of entertaining historical and antiquarian articles for various periodicals (most notably The Nineteenth Century). For readers of supernatural and Gothic fiction, however, Jessopp’s work is of interest mainly as a possible source of inspiration for the ‘antiquarian’ ghost stories of M.R. James. This is most obviously reflected by the title of ‘An Antiquary’s Ghost Story’, included in Frivola, a collection of essays published by Jessopp in 1896. The collection also includes an essay on ‘The Dying Out of the Marvellous’, which seems to encapsulate the ethos of the antiquarian ghost story, as well as ‘The Phantom Coach’. I’ve also included Jessopp’s essay on Hill-digging and magic (a possible source for James’s ‘A Warning to the Curious’) as an Appendix.

In addition to these pieces, Frivola also includes the powerful (but little-read) novella ‘Simon Ryan’ – a tale of religious mania with several Gothic elements.

Frivola [Kindle]

Frivola [Epub]

Frivola [PDF]

Critical edition:

The Phantom Coach and Other Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, introduced by Jessica Amanda Salmonson (Richard H.Fawcett, 1998). [The Introduction is available to read on Salmonson’s website]

A note on copyright:

The text is a collation of the first and second editions (1896 and 1907) and I explain my editorial choices in a textual note within the ebook. In this sense, the ebook offered here is a totally new edition of Jessopp’s collection, unavailable elsewhere. This makes it slightly different from the other books on offer at this blog. As with all the other files on this site, readers are free to use or distribute this ebook in any way they choose without my prior permission. This also applies to the individual pieces contained within the present ebook. If anyone wishes to reproduce the ebook in full, however, I would greatly appreciate if they could acknowledge this blog as a source.

Phantom Coach

‘Margery of Quether’ (1891) and A Book of Ghosts (1904) by Sabine Baring-Gould

baring2

‘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.

illus1          illus2

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’]

illus3          illus4

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)

illus5          illus6

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.

illus7          illus8

The Ghost of Guir House (1897) by Charles Willing Beale

ghost of guir house

Charles Willing Beale’s theosophical romance, was published in 1897 at the height of the late-Victorian ‘spiritualist’ craze. An engineer, entrepreneur and noted athlete, Beale was also the author of the science-fiction novel The Secrets of the Earth (1898). Concerning a haunted house which holds the key to a love stronger than death, the novel is heavily influenced by the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891). In 1875, Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society, which aimed to promote the ‘essential oneness’ of all life. Blavatsky was herself the author of a series of weird stories, published posthumously as Nightmare Tales (1892), which will be added to the blog at a later date.

The cover pictured above is that of the first paper-wrapped version and is derived from R.B. Russell’s excellent Guide to Supernatural Fiction, at Tartarus Press. The digital matte painting of a haunted house (below) is from Chilling Tales – I have been unable to trace the artist.

The Ghost of Guir House [Kindle]

The Ghost of Guir House [Epub]

The Ghost of Guir House [PDF]

Critical edition:

Five Victorian Ghost Novels, edited by E.F. Bleiler (Dover Publications, 1971)

 

Haunted house source untraced