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Archive for the ‘Richard Dalby’ Category

Richard Dalby – Virago Book Of Victorian Ghost Stories

Posted by demonik on September 10, 2007

Richard Dalby (ed.) – The Virago Book Of Victorian Ghost Stories (Virago, 1988)

Virago Book Of Victorian Ghost Stories

Preface    – Richard Dalby
Introduction – Jennifer Uglow

Charlotte Bronte – Napoleon And The Spectre
Elizabeth Gaskell – The Old Nurse’s Story
Dinah M. Mulock – The Last House In C— Street
Catherine Crowe – Round The Fire
Mary Elizabeth Braddon – The Cold Embrace
Rosa Mulholland – Not To Be Taken At Bedtime
Amelia B. Edwards – The Story Of Salome
Rhoda Broughton – The Truth, The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth
Mrs Henry Wood – Reality Or Delusion?
Vernon Lee – Winthrop’s Adventure
Charlotte Riddell – The Old House In Vauxhall Walk
Margaret Oliphant – The Open Door
Lanoe Falconer – Cecilia De Noel
Louisa Baldwin – Many Waters Cannot Quench Love
Violet Hunt – The Prayer
Mary Cholomondeley – Let Loose
Ella D’Arcy – The Villa Lucienne
Gertrude Atherton – The Striding Place
Willa Cattier – The Affair At Grover Station
Mary E. Wilkins (Freeman) – The Vacant Lot
Isabella Banks – Haunted!

Notes on the authors

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Richard Dalby – Ghosts for Christmas

Posted by demonik on September 9, 2007

Richard Dalby (ed.) – Ghosts for Christmas (O’Mara, 1988: Headline, 1989)

Foreword by Richard Dalby

Jerome K. Jerome – Our Ghost party
Charles Dickens – The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton
Mark Lemon – The Ghost Detective
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu – The Dead Sexton
Robert Louis Stevenson – Markheim
Sir James M. Barrie – The Ghost of Christmas Eve
Louisa Baldwin – The Real and the Counterfeit
Mrs. B. M. Croker – ‘Number Ninety’
John Kendrick Bangs – Thurlow’s Christmas Story
Elia W. Peattie – Their Dear Little Ghost
Grant Allen – Wolverden Tower
Bernard Capes – A Ghost-Child
Algernon Blackwood – The Kit-Bag
E. Nesbit – The Shadow
Elinor Glyn – The Irtonwood Ghost
E. G. Swain – Bone to his Bone
Algernon Blackwood – Transition
M. R. James – The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance
Marie Corelli – The Sculptor’s Angel
Hugh Walpole – The Snow
‘Ex-Private X’ (A. M. Burrage) – Smee
Marjorie Bowen – The Prescription
J. B. Priestley – The Demon King
H. Russell Wakefield – Lucky’s Grove
George H. Bushnell – ‘I Shall Take Proper Precautions’
Rosemary Timperley – Christmas Meeting
L.P. Hartley – Someone in the Lift
Ramsey Campbell – The Christmas Present
Daphne Froome – Christmas Entertainment
David G. Rowlands – Gebal and Ammon and Amalek

Celebrate the season with spirits of a creepier kind…

Stoke the fire, fill your glass and prepare yourself for an evening of stories from the impressive collection of authors who have turned their hand to the supernatural.

A touch of wit from Charles Dickens as Mr Wardle recounts the mysterious disappearance of Gabriel Grub; a pistol-wielding ghoul from the pen of J.M. Barrie; the shadowy figure of a tall gentleman in a lift from the vivid imagination of L.P. Hartley. These are just a few of the spine-tingling classics, from the historical to the present day, with which to while away the winter hours.

Ghosts for Christmas — the perfect present for those who yearn for a little extra seasonal shiver.

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Richard Dalby – Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories Volume 2

Posted by demonik on September 9, 2007

Richard Dalby (ed.) – The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories Volume 2 (Robinson, 1991)

Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories Volume 2

Preface by Christopher Lee

Kingsley Amis – Who or what was it?
Robert Arthur – The Believers
Sabine Baring-Gould – A Happy Release
Nugent Barker – One, Two, Buckle my Shoe
E.F. Benson – The Man who went too Far
Ambrose Bierce – The Secret of Macarger’s Gulch
H. T. W. Bousfield – The God with Four Arms
A.M. Burrage – The Shadowy Escort
Bernard Capes – The Widow’s Clock
Robert W. Chambers – A Pleasant Evening
R. Chetwynd-Hayes – The Elemental
Clare Colvin – Something to Reflect Upon
Basil Copper – The Second Passenger
Ralph Adams Cram – No. 252 rue M. Le Prince
Edmund Crispin – St. Bartholomew’s Day
Charles Dickens – The Ghost in Master B.’s Room
Arthur Conan Doyle – The Brown Hand
H. B. Drake – Yak Mool San
Vivian Edwards – The Spirit of Christmas
Erckmann-Chatrian – Uncle Christian’s Inheritance
John S. Glasby – The Black Widow
William F. Harvey – Across the Moors
Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Gray Champion
Washington Irving – Governor Manco and the Soldier
M.R. James – Rats
Roger Johnson – Mädelein
A.F. Kidd – And Turns No More His Head
Rudyard Kipling – By Word of Mouth
Margery Lawrence – The Curse of the Stillborn
Alan W. Lear – Dance! Dance! The Shaking of the Sheets
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu – The Fortunes of Sir Robert Ardagh
L.A. Lewis – Haunted Air
R.H. Malden – The Coxswain of the Lifeboat
Guy de Maupassant – On the River
J.C. Moore – Things
Edith Nesbit – The Ebony Frame
Amyas Northcote – The Downs
Fitz-James O’Brien – The Pot of Tulips
Vincent O’Sullivan – The Burned House
C.D. Pamely – The Unfinished Masterpiece
James Platt – The Witches’ Sabbath
Edgar Allan Poe – Metzengerstein
Kate & Hesketh Prichard – The Story of Saddler’s Croft
Lennox Robinson – The Face
David G. Rowlands – A Fisher of Men
Mark Rutherford – A Mysterious Portrait
Pamela Sewell – Ward 8
A.E.D. Smith – The Coat
Lewis Spence – A Voice in Feathers
Derek Stanford – A Dream of Porcelain
Herbert Stephen – No. 11 Welham Square
Frank R. Stockton – The Bishop’s Ghost and the Printer’s Baby
Bram Stoker – The Secret of the Growing Gold
Mark Valentine – The Ash Track
E. H. Visiak – In a Nursing Home (A Euthanasian Subject)
Edgar Wallace – The Stranger of the Night
Edith Wharton – The Triumph of Night
Mary E. Wilkins – The Hall Bedroom
William J. Wintle – The Ghost at the Blue Dragon

Review by Ripper of Vault Of Evil.

Well, nobody can say that you don’t get your money’s worth when you buy a “Mammoth.” And when the book’s editor is Richard Dalby you can expect stories that aren’t so widely known in general. Even the obligatory M.R. James piece is one from his “2nd eleven” in terms of popularity, but certainly not quality. As with the first volume, the collection spans many styles and presents both classic authors and those more familiar to fans of the small press. Malden, Wintle, Rowlands and Johnson are back again, and I repeat that where else are you likely to see work by them in an easily-accessible mass-market book? A good companion to the first volume, great to read on stormy winter nights.

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Richard Dalby – Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories 1

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Richard Dalby (ed.) – The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories: Volume 1 (Robinson 1990)



Robert Aickman – The Unsettled Dust
Louisa Baldwin – How He Left the Hotel
Nugent Barker – Whessoe
E.F. Benson – The Shuttered Room
Ambrose Bierce – An Inhabitant of Carcosa
Charles Birkin – Is there Anybody there?
Algenon Blackwood – The Whisperers
L.M. Boston – Curfew
A.M. Burrage – I’m Sure it was No. 31
Ramsay Campbell – The Guide
R. Chetwynd-Hayes – The Limping Ghost
Wilkie Collins – Mrs Zant and the Ghost
Basil Copper – The House by the Tarn
Ralph A. Cram – In Kropfsberg Keep
Daniel Defoe – The Ghost in all the Rooms
Charles Dickens – The Bagman’s Uncle
Arthur Conan-Doyle – The Bully of Brocas Court
Amelia B. Edwards – In the Confessional
Shamus Frazer – The Tune in Dan’s Cafe
John S. Glasby – Beyond the Bourne
William Hope Hodgson – The Valley of Lost Children
Fergus Hume – The Sand-Walker
Henry James – The Real Right Thing
M.R. James – The Haunted Dolls’ House
Roger Johnson – The Wall-Painting
Rudyard Kipling – They
D.H. Lawrence – The Last Laugh
Margery Lawrence – Robin’s Rath
J. Sheridan Le Fanu – The Dream
R.H. Malden – The Sundial
Richard Marsh – The Fifteenth Man
John Metcalfe – Brenner’s Boy
Edith Nesbit – Uncle Abraham’s Romance
Fitz-James O’Brien – What was It?
Vincent O’Sullivan – The Next Room
Roger Pater – The Footstep of the Aventine
Edgar Allan Poe – William Wilson
Forrest Reid – Courage
Mrs J.H. Riddell – The Last of Squire Ennismore
L.T.C. Rolte – The Garside Fell Disaster
David G. Rowlands – The Tears of St. Agatha
Saki – The Soul of Laploshka
Sapper – The Old Dining-Room
Montague Summers – The Between-Maid
Mark Twain – A Ghost Story
Mark Valentine – The Folly
H. Russell Wakefield – Out of the Wrack I Rise
Karl Edward Wagner – In the Pines
Manly Wade Wellman – Where Angels Fear
Edward Lucas White – The House of the Nightmare
Oscar Wilde – The Canterville Ghost
William J. Wintle – The Spectre Spiders


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Richard Dalby – Dracula’s Brood

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Richard Dalby (ed.) – Dracula’s Brood: Rare Vampire Stories by Friends and Contemporaries of Bram Stoker (Crucible, 1987, Equation, 1989)

Dracula’s Brood crucible

Introduction – Richard Dalby

William Gilbert – The Last Lords of Gardonal
Eliza Lynn Linton – The Fate of Madame Cabanel
Phil Robinson – The Man-Eating Tree
Vasile Alecsandrai – The Vampyre
Anne Crawford – A Mystery of the Campagna
Julian Hawthorne – Ken’s Mystery
Arthur Conan Doyle – The Parasite
Mary Elizabeth Braddon – Good Lady Ducayne
Mary Cholmondeley – Let Loose
Vincent O’Sullivan – Will
H. B. Marriott Watson – The Stone Chamber
Hume Nisbet – The Vampire Maid
Hume Nisbet – The Old Portrait
Vernon Lee – Marsyas in Flanders
Louise J. Strong – An Unscientific Story
Sabine Baring-Gould – A Dead Finger
Horacio Quiroga – The Feather Pillow
Algernon Blackwood – The Singular Death of Morton
Alice & Claude Askew – Aylmer Vance and the Vampire
Ulric Daubeny – The Sumach
M. R. James – Wailing Well
Edward Heron-Allen – Another Squaw?
E. R. Punshon – The Living Stone
Frederick Cowles – Princess Of Darkness

Eliza Lynn Linton – The Fate Of Madame Cabenal: Pievrot, a hamlet in Brittany. Jules Cabanel, father of his housekeeper Adele’s child, returns from Paris with an English bride. Adele welcomes her new mistress with a bouquet of scarlet poppies, belladonna and aconite, and, in concert with Martin Briolic, is soon plotting her rivals downfall. The high rate of infant mortality in the region gives them all the ammunition they need …

Frederick Cowles – Princess Of Darkness: Now we’re in Budapest, and the clutches of the 400 year old Transylvanian Princess Bessenyei, so no prizes for guessing she’s a full on vampire with all the trappings. Wherever she goes, she leaves a trail of dead lovers in her wake until Harry Gorton, an English diplomat, teams up with his occultist friend Istvan Zichy join forces against her. A marvelous pulp romp with a suspenseful climax, and it’s possible you won’t double guess the ending.

E. R. Punshon – The Living Stone: “What could any man do against fifty tons of granite made animate?” Good question, especially when it flings itself upon you with a great leap and gluts on your blood. The professor, researching human sacrifice in Cornwall, stakes out the ‘hunting stone’ in Missing Lane following a series of mysterious disappearances in the locality.

Hume Nisbet – The Old Portrait: Utterly charming Victorian horror. When he scrubs away the “bloated, piggish visage of a landlord” from the canvas, he discovers the masterly portrait of a beautiful woman underneath. Fascinated, he spends Christmas Eve gazing at his find. Come midnight, and the lovely lady comes floating out of the frame..

Hume Nisbet – The Vampire Maid: A reclusive artist takes up residence in a cottage and falls for the attractive invalid Ariadne Brunnell. Her health begins to return.

Mary Elizabeth Braddon – Good Lady Ducayne: Bella lands the position of ladies maid to the ancient, wizened Adelaide Ducayne, and spends the winter touring Italy with her and sinister physician Dr. Parravicini. The old girl’s is soon dramatically improved, although Bella isn’t feeling too clever ….

Edward Heron-Allen – Another Squaw?: Title alludes to Stokers horrible tale of the American tourist, the cat and the Iron Maiden. This one is set at a Marine Biological Station, and relates the events leading to the death of Jennifer Pendeen B.Sc., savaged by an Angler fish.

Mary Cholmondeley – Let Loose: Wet-Waste-On-The-Wold, Yorkshire. When Sir Roger Despard, a man of many vices, lay on his deathbed, he did so denying God and his Angels, declaring that all were damned as he, and that Satan was strangling him to death. Taking a knife, he cut off his hand and swore an oath that, if he were to go down and burn in hell, his hand would roam the earth and throttle others as he was being throttled. Thirty years after his death, a young man persuades an old clergyman to open the crypt …

Horacio Quiroga – The Feather Pillow: Even given the heady standards set by the The Living Stone, The Sumach (an excellent ‘vampire tree’ outing) and Another Squaw?, this one is pretty bizarre. Recently wed, Alicia is wasting away before the eyes of her dominant husband. What could be causing her illness? (Clue: it isn’t a haunted hot-water bottle).

Alice & Claude Askew – Aylmer Vance and the Vampire: Hereditary vampirism in the Scottish Highlands. Paul marries beautiful redhead Jessica MacThane, the last of her clan, who bears a striking resemblance to her ancestress, Zaida the witch, the wife of a murderer. Since Zaida’s day, the legend has persisted of “a pale woman clad in white, flitting about the cottages at night, and where she passed, sickness and death were sure to intervene …”

H. B. Marriott Watson – The Stone Chamber: Utterbourne Village, Devon. Rupert Marvin, an eighteenth century rake and murderer, does his little bit to upset the wedding plans of the besotted Warrington and Marion. You’ll most likely prefer Warrington when he’s demonically possessed by the vampire, boozing, cursing and pawing every woman in sight. Not a patch on the same author’s The Devil On The Marsh, but good fun none-the-less.

Sabine Baring Gould – The Dead Finger: When it comes to leftie-haters, very few could outdo Dennis Wheatley, but the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould certainly gave it his best shot in this 1904 shocker. Who is to blame for the vampiric digit which persecutes our narrator so? As the undead himself explains: whinging paupers!

“Folk once called us Anarchists, Nihilists, Socialists, Levelers, now they call us the Influenza …. we the social failures, the generally discontented, coming up out of our cheap and nasty graves in the form of physical disease.”

I’d so have that engraved on my headstone if only I could afford one!

Dracula’s Brood

see also the Dracula’s Brood thread on the Vault forum

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Richard Dalby & Rosemary Pardoe – Ghosts and Scholars

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Richard Dalby & Rosemary Pardoe (eds.)Ghosts and Scholars: Ghost Stories In The Tradition Of M. R. James (Crucible, 1987: Equation, 1989)

Ghosts & Scholars

Foreword – Michael Cox
Introduction – Rosemary Pardoe & Richard Dalby
M. R. James – Ghosts-Treat Them Gently

Sabine Baring-Gould – On the Leads
‘B’ – The Stone Coffin
A.C. Benson – The Slype House
R. Hugh Benson – Father Macclesfield’s Tale
Cecil Binney – The Saint and the Vicar
Sir Andrew Caldecott – Christmas Reunion
Ramsey Campbell – This Time
Patrick Carleton – Dr Horder’s Room
Carter Dickson (John Dickson Carr) – Blind Man’s Hood
Frederick Cowles – The Strange Affair at Upton Strangewold
‘Ingulphus’ (Arthur Gray) – Brother John’s Bequest
Sheila Hodgson – ‘Come, Follow!’
M. R. James – Ghost Story Competition
Winifred Galbraith – ‘Here He Lies Where He Longed to Be’
Emma S. Duffin – The House-Party
A. F. Kidd – An Incident in the City
Shane Leslie – As In a Glass Dimly
R. H. Malden – Between Sunset and Moonrise
L. T. C. Rolt – New Corner
David G. Rowlands – Sins of the Fathers
Eleanor Scott – Celui-La
Arnold Smith – The Face in the Fresco
Dermot Chesson Spence – The Dean’s Bargain
Lewis Spence – The Horn of Vapula
Montague Summers – The Grimoire
E. G. Swain – The Eastern Window

Select Bibliography

An extension of one of Britain’s finest small press publications, this collection traces the influence of James upon his contemporaries and later authors, right through to present day masters like Ramsey Campbell. There’s little by way of gore and violence, nor are too many crabs known to rampage through these crypts and Cathedrals. What these stories have to offer is an undeniable shuddersome quality courtesy of the many mouldering revenants who show themselves to the usual array of hapless antiquarians.

See also the excellent Ghosts & Scholars archive

Perhaps of slightly lesser import, the Vault Of Evil G&S thread

Posted in *Crucible*, Richard Dalby, Rosemary Pardoe | Leave a Comment »

Richard Dalby – Chillers for Christmas

Posted by demonik on September 1, 2007

Richard Dalby (ed) – Chillers for Christmas (Michael O’Mara, 1989)


Clifford Harper

Foreword – Richard Dalby

Rudyard Kipling – The Strange Ride Of Morrowbie Jukes
Frank Cowper – Christmas Eve On A Haunted Hulk
Ernest R. Suffling – The Phantom Riders
Amelia B. Edwards – The Guard-Ship At The Aire
Anon [John Berwick Harwood] – Horror: A True Tale
G. A. Henty – A Pipe Of Mystery
George Manville Fenn – On The Down Line
Arthur Conan Doyle – An Exciting Christmas Eve
Guy Boothby – Remorseless Vengeance
Bernard Capes – The Vanishing House
Dick Donovan – The White Raven
Frank Frankfort Moore – The Strange Story Of Northavon Priory
William J. Wintle – The Black Cat
John Collier – Back For Christmas
Sarban – A Christmas Story
L. P. Hartley – The Waits
Shamus Frazer – Florinda
R. Chetwynd-Hayes – The Hanging Tree
Alexander Welch – The Grotto
Eugene Johnson – Just Before Dawn
Peter Tremayne – Buggane
John Glasby – The Uninvited
A. J. Merak – A Present For Christmas
Simon MacCulloch – The Deliverer
Roger Johnson – The Night Before Christmas
David G. Rowlands – On Wings Of Song
Jessica Amanda Salmonson – The Santa

Frank Cowper – Chistmas Eve On A Haunted Hulk: The narrator is forced to spend the night on a ship stranded on a mud bank off the south coast. An excellent ghost story in the tradition of Bulwer-Lytton’s The House And The Brain which is mentioned in the text.

Anon – Horror: A True Tale: Grim goings on in a Tudor mansion. The nineteen-year-old Rosa’s hair turns white and her entire life is ruined when, having been terrified by the grisley tales of an embittered aunt, Lady Speldhurst, she discovers that she is sharing her makeshift bedroom with an escaped lunatic, the chained man responsible for tearing apart several sheep and drinking their blood.

G. A Henty – A Pipe Of Mystery: India, last days of the Empire. In return for saving him from a man-eating tiger, a fakir gives Harley and Simmonds a pipe to smoke which gives them a glimpse into the future. Each has a premonition of a Sepoy mutiny in which many of their companions are massacred. When the uprising really does take place a few years later, both are able to escape due to their visions and Harley is even able to rescue the beautiful woman who will become his wife. “May happily had fainted as I lifted her on to my horse – happily, because the fearful screams we heard from the various bungalows almost drove me mad, and would probably have killed her, for the poor ladies were all her intimate friends.”

David G. Rowlands – On Wings Of Song: Each Christmas, schoolfriends Patterson and Chris present a toy theatre drama. Chris, unfortunately, doesn’t live to regret his decision to tackle Dracula casting a live mosquito as the bat by way of special effects …

Jessica Amanda Salmonson – The Santa: Michelle watches Santa playing outside in the snow on Christmas Eve night. She steps out in the blizzard to join in, but Santa’s disappeared and, looking back at the house she sees the Christmas tree ablaze and the curtains in flames. The house burns down and the firemen stumble upon Michelle buried in the snow. “Her blue legs and her blue arms stuck out from her yellow nightdress. Her eyes were frozen open and her face was pressed close to a ragged clownish doll.” Had the Santa tried to save her or did he torch her home?

Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle – An Exciting Christmas Eve: Far from being ‘exciting’ this is maybe the dullest tale in an otherwise worthy collection, IMO, Neither ghost nor horror, this one concerns an explosives expert who is kidnapped by anarchists.

Sarban – A Christmas Story: Set in Russia, this one centres around a Bison’s graveyard. Like the Conan-Doyle, it’s somewhat out of place in here although there’s a moment of horror when Alexander and his companion realise just what type of meat it is they’ve sustained themselves on these past few days.

George Manville Fenn – On The Down Line: The driver sees a spectral train running alongside, and is later crushed under the wheels of his own engine.

A. J. Merak – A Present For Christmas:”It’s horrible, Charles. Truly horrible. I’ve run here all the way from that accursed spot in the cemetery. The grave … all dug up and opened. But from the inside.”
Redforde near Exeter, West Country, early hours of Christmas morning. Anne Kirby’s sister died at birth. Twenty years later, on the eve of Annes engagement to Jonathan Weatherby, the doppelganger-like ghost rises from the grave to claim her twenty years in Annes body. Charles, the narrator, is the only one to realise that Anne has been possessed and informs the doctor of his suspicions, effectively sealing the old boy’s doom. He sets off to confront the demonic impostor.

Simon MacCulloch – The Deliverer: Yet another psycho Santa, this one the spectre of the insane Rev. Piper. Rather than leave loads of presents by the children’s beds, he carries six unfortunate little ones off in his sack.

L. P. Hartley – The Waits: The Marriner family are all set for Christmas with father feeling particularly smug with himself on account of there being one less expensive present to fork out for this year. That’s when the carol singers show up. Two of them, man and boy. And they’re very demanding – they even refuse Mr. Marriner’s tip as “not enough”. Also, those are not the correct words to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

R. Chetwynd-Hayes – The Hanging Tree: Christmas with the Fortesque family and friends, and the young, romantically inclined Movita is busy spinning fantasies around the family ghost, that of a young man who killed his lover then hung himself from a tree in the garden during the previous century. Her insistence that she’s seen him has the household despairing for her sanity, all save Miss Mansfield who realised Movita is psychic and inadvisedly intervenes on her behalf.

Another Victorian spook show, partly told from the point of view of the vampiric spectre.


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Richard Dalby – Virago Book of Ghost Stories

Posted by demonik on September 1, 2007

Richard Dalby (ed.) – The Virago Book of Ghost Stories (Virago, 1987)

Richard Dalby – Preface
Jennifer Uglow – Introduction

Edith Wharton -The Eyes
E. Nesbit – The Violet Car
Henrietta D. Everett – The Crimson Blind
May Sinclair – The Token
Ellen Glasgow – The Shadowy Third
Marjory E. Lambe – The Return
Margery H. Lawrence – The Haunted Saucepan
Mary Webb – Mr. Tallent’s Ghost
Enid Bagnold – The Amorous Ghost
Marjorie Bowen – The Accident
Marjorie Bowen – A Persistent Woman
Phyllis Bottome – The Waiting-Room
Catherine Wells – The Ghost
Eleanor Scott – ‘Will Ye No’ Come Back Again?’
E. M. Delafield – Sophy Mason Comes Back
Hester Gorst – The Doll’s House
Edith Olivier – The Night Nurse’s Story
Winifred Holtby – The Voice of God
Cynthia Asquith – The Follower
F. M. Mayor – Miss De Mannering Of Asham
Stella Gibbons – Roaring Tower
D. K. Broster – Juggernaut
Elizabeth Bowen – The Happy Autumn Fields
Pamela Hansford Johnson – The Empty Schoolroom
Elizabeth Jane Howard – Three Miles Up
Rose Macaulay – Whitewash
Elizabeth Taylor – Poor Girl
Elizabeth Jenkins – On No Account, My Love
Rosemary Timperley – The Mistress in Black
Norah Lofts – A Curious Experience
Fay Weldon – Breakages
Elizabeth Walter – Dual Control
Sara Maitland – Lady With Unicorn
Lisa St. Aubin De Teran – Diamond Jim
Angela Carter – Ashputtle

Notes on the Authors

A real change of pace – I’ve been on a diet of Not At Night‘s and Charles Birkin for a fortnight – but this is a truly special collection. No surprise to see Lady Cynthia Asquith’s groundbreaking Ghost Book‘s so well represented, but I certainly wasn’t expecting three (admittedly, non-sadistic: Asquith’s own The Follower would have suited the series admirably) from Birkin’s Creeps to make the cut. I was a little disappointed to see that Marjory Bowen was represented by two 150 word vignettes … until I read them: The Accident, in particular, is terrific, an E.C. strip in microcosm.
It’s very difficult to pick a ‘best’ from such a strong, varied selection, but if pushed, I’d probably opt for Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Three Miles Up which has one of the most jaw-dropping finales in this -or any other – form of literature.
Mind you, I could’ve done without Whitewash and A Curious Experience, and I’m still trying to figure out how Lady With Unicorn sneaked in …

Some tasters/ spoilers:

Cynthia Asquith – The Follower:Mrs. Meade is plagued by a Hyde-like figure who she first encounters leering and gesticulating at her outside Baker Street Station. Soon he has taken to following her, and with each meeting her terror mounts. He is seen gloating over the body of a little girl who’s been run down, then, as a taxi-driver, he nearly brings about the death of his passenger – Mrs. Meade – by driving the cab into railings. She recovers, but is sent to a nursing home to recover. She’s not the only patient …

Hester Gorst – The Dolls House: The narrator buys a Georgian Dolls house at an auction immediatly and begins to suffer from nightmares in which he becomes “A rake … coming home very late and very drunk”, ascending the staircase of the original for his recent purchase. It becomes apparent that his dream-self is one some terrible errand, and he convinces himself that this is the murder of a woman. Best friend Jack offers to spend the night with him to see what he gets up to when he’s asleep …

Elizabeth Walter – Dual Control: Told entirely in dialiogue – and a very hostile exchange it is too – between Eric, a ruthless businessman on the make, and his alcoholic wife, Freda, as they drive to and from the Bradey’s party, having knocked down a girl on the way. The girl, Giselle, arrived at the same party, seemingly none the worse for wear, but as they drive home they encounter her again at the scene of the accident, blood pouring from a terrible wound ….

Edith Bagnold – The Amorous Ghost: While his wife is away, two of the maids hand in their notice after discovering a woman’s underclothes in the master’s room. That night, he watches transfixed as a figure half-materialises in a chair with her back to him, slowly slipping out of her clothes. It’s with great relief he hears his wife return, undress and slip into bed beside him. It must be freezing outside because she’s cold enough to chill the entire room ….

Stella Gibbons – Roaring Tower: Clara’s parents disapprove of her lover, and pack her off to Aunt Julia in Cornwall to recuperate. Clara is instrumental in releasing the trapped spirit of a ghostly bear, imprisoned in a pit at the base of the roaring tower, so named after the tormented creature’s bellows for assistance.

Marjory E. Lambe – The Return: A murderer returns to the house of his victim, an old miser who once employed him and who he surprised while he was counting his treasure. The skinflint’s spectre (or his guilty conscience) provide his undoing. When he is recognised in The White Horse and Bessie the barmaid raises the alarm, the old boy’s son decides to look over the house. The burglar, when faced with the unexpected visitor, sees “the white hair … streaked with blood, the skin yellow across the skeleton face … the bloodless lips … drawn back into a grin of pure triumph.”

Marjorie Bowen – The Accident: Murchinson and Bargrave are involved in a car smash. When Murchinson sees the ‘grey whisp’ that is his enemy emerging from the wreckage, he gloats: “So you were killed, you silly fool!”

Pamela Hansford Johnson – The Empty Schoolroom: Maud remains behind with M. Fournier and Marie during the school holidays and encounters the sobbing ghost of an ugly girl in a dunces cap. She had been mistreated and humiliated by the embittered headmistress and now it is time to exact revenge …

Marjorie Bowen – A Persistent Woman:After yet another blazing row, Temple decides to leave his wife, Sarah. She clings to him with a greater tennacity than either would have thought her capable.

Margery H. Lawrence – The Haunted Saucepan: London, around St. James’ Palace. Anybody who eats anything prepared in the saucepan suffers the most horrible pains consistent with the pangs suffered by those poisoned with arsenic. Connor,Trevanion and a borrowed dog conceal themselves in the kitchen overnight to catch who or what has been setting it on the boil. The denouement is predictable, but the story has some wonderfully atmospheric touches and Strutt, the butler, is a trip.

Fay Weldon – Breakages: Poltergeist activity in the unhappy household of the vicar and his “barren” wife. David’s prize possessions are forever being broken and mended by Dierdre, who prays that he won’t notice the cracks. When he does, the ensuing flare-up is enough to decide her to pluck up the courage and leave, especially as it is now known that his impotence has been responsible for their childlessness. When she goes, her room destroys itself. David remarries. The second time is as joyless as the first.

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