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Thirteen Victorian and Edwardian ghost stories that send chills up the spine and create an atmosphere sure to make the reader turn on an extra light and push up the back of their armchair against the wall.
Set amidst crumbling, ill-maintained churches and imposing cathedrals, on desolate coastland, moors and marshes, even along unlit roads extending into the new suburbs of London, the stories have been chosen for their quality of writing, imaginative range and diversity of character. Here you will find strange, preoccupied gentleman farmers; scholars and antiquarians; administrators of the British Raj; cowering country girls drafted into service in leaky mansions; cussed, gnarled servants and remorseful clergymen; frustrated aristocrats, and their puzzled American cousins; crooked jurists, desperate children and modern women emancipated in ways they never imagined.
The stories, in short, are the quintessence of nineteenth century literature, except for that one small, and unexamined, crack in its magnificent window pane.
From Edith Nesbit and MR James to Wilkie Collins and WW Jacobs, late Victorian and Edwardian writers lived through a time of unparalleled change, and unprecedented challenge—but also produced some of the finest ghost stories ever written. This collection explores the many dimensions of that rapidly-shifting world: a university curator’s annoyance at receiving an uninteresting picture turns to terror when it proves far more interesting than he first imagined; the wife of a colonial administrator experiences the unexpected consequences of love which endures death; a mill family makes nervous use of an Indian talisman offering the solution to any problem, at a price.
In these thirteen classic stories of the supernatural nothing is taken for granted except, perhaps, for fear.
1. MR James, The Mezzotint
2. Charlotte Riddell, Nut Bush Farm
3. Mary Elizabeth Braddon, The Shadow in the Corner
4. John Kendrick Bangs, The Water Ghost of Harrowby Hall
5. Wilkie Collins, Miss Jeromette and the Clergyman
6. Alice Perrin, The Summoning of Arnold
7. Edith Nesbit, John Charrington's Wedding
8. WF Harvey, Across the Moors
9. DH Lawrence, The Rocking-Horse Winner
10. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Mr Justice Harbottle
11. Wallace Irwin, The Transplanted Ghost
12. WW Jacobs, The Monkey's Paw
13. May Sinclair, Where their Fire Is Not Quenched
Afterword: MR James, Stories I Have Tried to Write: Thoughts and Observations on the Writing of Ghost Stories