Guy Boothby (1867-1905) was born in Australia but spent most of his career in England. A professional writer, his most famous work is the Dr Nikola series – a sequence of five novels about a criminal mastermind determined to take over the world with the help of the occult. Boothby was tremendously prolific. His writing career took up only the last decade of his tragically short life, but during this time he produced over fifty novels.
Presented here is one of a handful of overtly supernatural novels written by Boothby. First published in 1899, it is typically late-Victorian in its concerns about contamination by a foreign other from the fringes of occidental Empire – in this case the eponymous Pharos, a grotesque Egyptian with a talent for mesmerism, who harbours an astonishing and deadly secret. Also included are three of Boothby’s best-known ghost stories, taken from his collection The Lady of the Island (1904).
These five stories represent the complete supernatural writing of D.H. Lawrence, the celebrated English modernist. All of the stories appear in The Woman Who Rode Away and other stories (1928) – the final collection of Lawrence’s short fiction to appear in his lifetime – and were written in the three or four years leading up to the publication of that volume. ‘Glad Ghosts’ received its first book publication in the short story collection of the same name, which appeared in 1926 – it had originally been written for Lady Cynthia Asquith’s Ghost Book. Asquith rejected it on account of its strange symbolism and difficult narrative style. ‘The Lovely Lady’ is a satiric vampire story. Each of the stories betray the bitter sarcasm characteristic of Lawrence’s work, and make for challenging and unsettling reading.
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.