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Roald Dahl’s Book Of Ghost Stories

Posted by demonik on September 1, 2007

Roald Dahl’s Book Of Ghost Stories (Penguin, 1985: Originally Jonathan Cape, 1983)

cover illustration by Stuart Robinson

A selection of classic chillers, chosen by the master of the macabre … so tantalizingly terrifying that you might not have the guts to read them at all

Introduction – Roald Dahl

L. P. Hartley – W.S.
Rosemary Timperley – Harry
Cynthia Asquith – The Corner Shop
E. F. Benson – In The Tube
Rosemary Timperley – Christmas Meeting
Jonas Lie – Elias And The Draug
A. M. Burrage – Playmates
Robert Aickman – Ringing The Changes
Mary Treadgold – The Telephone
J. S. Le Fanu – The Ghost Of A Hand
‘Ex- Private X’ (A. M. Burrage) – The Sweeper
Edith Wharton – Afterward
Richard Middleton – On The Brighton Road
F. Marion Crawford – The Upper Berth

Drawn from a shortlist of 24 stories Dahl had compiled for a proposed television series, Ghost Time, in 1958, only for the show to be scrapped because the pilot episode – a dramatisation of E. F. Benson’s The Hanging Of Alfred Wadham – was “a disaster”. Having read “just about every ghost story that had ever been written” in researching the show, Roald was of the opinion that the vast majority are badly written junk so its perhaps worth noting the few he singles out for praise in his introduction: Clemence Dane’s Spinster’s Rest, Mary Oliphant’s The Open Door, Amelia B. Edwards’ The Four-Fifteen Express, Cynthia Asquith’s God Grante That She Lye Stille and unidentified stories by Charles Dickens and John Collier.

For all his visits to the British Museum Library, Dahl, like Robert Aickman, seems to have resurrected most of his material from Lady Cynthia Asquith’s Ghost Book series.

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