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Classic Ghost & Horror Short Stories

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Classic Ghost Stories by Tony Walker
A curated list of classic masterpieces of ghost and horror stories by the masters. A curated list of classic masterpieces of ghost and horror stories by the masters. << Show Less
S02E31 The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe Edgar Allen PoePoe was an American writer born in 1809 in Boston who died aged only forty in Baltimore in 1849. He is one of the best-known American writers of his generation and famed all over the world for his Gothic and macabre tales. This is the third of his stories we've done on The Classic Ghost Stories Podcast.Others are The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of UsherThe Black Cat by Edgar Allen PoePoe sets up his character as a mild, animal-loving child and I guess this is to show how out of character his later muderous rage is. When he talks of an animal as a brute it is not a derogatory term and merely equivalent to the word animal. Beast is the same though in the intervening years both beast and brute have become tainted by usage connecting them with the vilest of human beings rather than dumb animals. Did you see what I did there?Near the beginning he mentions his wife's joking belief that all black cats are witches in disguise. This is a little foreshadowing the for the supernatural powers of the black cat that are revealed towards the end of the story.We aren't far into the story before the narrator reveals the cause of his change of character: it is through intemperance with drink. Remember the Temperance Movement (of which my grandmother was a proud supporter). Poe himself had a problem with alcohol. His death was very likely related to his alcohol abuse. In 1849, he was due to catch a ferry from Richmond, Virginia to Baltimore, Maryland. He visited a doctor in Richmond the night before he was due to travel, complaining of a fever. He arrived in Baltimore and is next seen in a tavern three days later when he was found in an alcoholic stupor wearing someone else's clothes: a cheap suit and a straw hat, not his usual black wool suit. Perhaps he had sold his own clothes for money for drink?He was admitted to hospital and died four days later. He was drifting in and out of consciousness, hallucinating and talking nonsense. This sounds to me like Delirium Tremens from alcohol withdrawal. For people who drink heavily over a long period they can develop Wernicke-Korsakoff's syndrome which is a neurological condition caused by deficiencies of B vitamins, particularly Thiamine. It is also known as Korsakoff's Dementia.At the time of his death Poe had recently joined a temperance society. The doctor who saw him in the tavern thought he had been on a bender and was intoxicated, but the doctor in the hospital stated Poe had not been drinking. Of course, that is what causes the withdrawal: heavy drinking with a sudden stop. The most common causes of sudden death in people who abuse alcohol are through a seizure induced by the withdrawal, or by the bursting of blood vessels in the throat leading to catastrophic loss of blood. There is no report of a seizure, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Other theories are that Poe was assaulted and had a head injury in the tavern or that he was in late stage syphilis. This late stage syphilis filled mental institutions in the days before antibiotics and was very common—known as General Paralysis of The Insane. The doctors would have recognised this condition easily.Getting back to the story. He mentions that Pluto was becoming old, "And consequently peevish". On the eve of my sixtieth birthday I know exactly how Pluto felt. He is very nasty to the old cat though, and like others of Poe's protagonists, but not all (I quite like the protagonist from the House of Usher) he loses our sympathy. We are quite pleased with his ultimate destruction and getting what he deserves. Yet, we stick with him. Writers are urged to have characters that the public can root for: we don't have to approve of them, or like them, though we might (consider Dexter or Hannibal Lecter) but we must want them to succeed. For my part, I wanted this man to be caught and punished. But then, I'm a cat lover. And a dog lover too.It is very hard to get audiences to tolerate killing an animal in a story, even though it is just a story. Poe seems to be trying to upset us, though people had harder hearts towards animals in Western culture in his day than they have now. He hangs the cat because it loved him. He hangs it in order to commit a sin and put his soul beyond God's mercy. He clearly feels the need to be punished. This is presumably because of his alcoholism? Or is his alcoholism due to this wish to be punished? If only he were here and I could psychoanalyse Poe, but sadly he's dead, so it doesn't matter. He find his explanation&nbsp
S01E33 Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne Nathaniel HawthorneHawthorne was born in 1804 in Salem, Massachussetts. He died in Plymouth New Hampshire. One of his ancestors was John Hathorne who was the only judge in the witch trials who never repented his involvement.His ancestors who came from England in 1630 were Puritans. It is thought that Hathorne added the -w- to his name to make it Hawthorne in his twenties in order to distance himself from these fervent ancestors.He published his first work in 1828 when he was twenty-four. He published a series of short stories. He was a Transcendentalist, a Romantic philosophy which believes in the goodness of human nature and a reliance on intuition and other promptings of the spiritual or natural person rather than relying on reason.Despite his puritan ancestors, Hawthorne liked to take pot shots at puritanism. He is a Romantic and technically what is known as a dark Romantic. He is most famous for his novel The Scarlet Letter which was published in 1859. Also famous is the House of the Seven Gables. His books often feature themes of sin and the inherent evil of humanity.Young Goodman BrownUnless I’ve missed it, we are not told what is special about this night that Goodman Brown is going out to have his tryst with the Devil. His wife, Faith, wants him to be there with her on this night ‘of all nights in the year’, but he has to go out on this night of all nights in the year. He is clearly expecting to meet the Devil and has some business with him, but it’s not clear to me what that business is.It turns out that all the people he thought pious, including his father and grandfather as well as various deacons and goodies and goodmen of the town and state are wicked to the core.But what was his own mission exactly? I’m not clear. He clearly needs to do his dirty deed on this particular night and afterwardsHe discusses meeting the Devil and then a man appears who has the look of his grandfather, it transpires. This man was in Boston only fifteen minutes previously and that seems pretty fast travel for the Seventeenth Century. The Devil says that Brown is late, and Brown answers that, ‘Faith kept me back a while.’ Ah, yes indeed. Faith has two meanings here, I think.We hear from Good Cloyse that a young man is to be taken into communion with the witches that night, and we hear from Deacon Gookin that a young woman is to be inducted. We realise that this is Faith of course as Hawthorne intends us to, but of which poor Goodman Brown is ignorant. This is called Dramatic Irony according to Robert McKee, where the audience knows more than the character.However, the story is well done. We are led step by step as our Goodman falls deeper into temptation and then, the scales are removed from his eyes and the Devil tells him that evil is the basic currency of human nature. He believes it and henceforth mistrusts the virtue of his own dear wife and his own pastor. This is foreshadowed by Hawthorne at the outset of the journey when, after Faith has failed to convince him to stay home, she hopes that he finds all well on his return, to which he replies: ‘Amen’. But when he returns has changed all due to his change in attitude, because as Hamlet says, ‘there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Goodman Brown is a lukewarm Satanist at the best. He begins by telling Old Nick that he has scruples in the matter that ‘thou wots’t of’. (You know of. English used to have two verbs for to know, like French and German an Welsh and Irish and other languages I know. One was ‘to wit’ which was to know a thing, and the other ‘to ken’ which is to be familiar with or know a person or place. German keeps the same two words. Ich weiss, and Ich kenn. There you go.SalemPuritan Salem is a favourite topic for writers from the movie The Witch, where the simple puritans are discombobulated by Black Phillip in the woods, to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.I guess it is all that repressed evil that must come out somewhere that is the interest.I also was interested in the picture of a countryside that was filled with heathen darkness that was a real threat to the colonial settlers, and a landscape still full of Native Americans living with their full culture still flourishing.Deals With The DevilI recently did a version of one of my own stories, The Bewcastle Fairies with sound effects which has a similar theme. I also did John Bucha
SE02E24 Rosalind by Richmal Crompton Richmal Crompton Richmal Crompton was born in Bury, Lancashire in 1890 and died in Bromley, Kent in 1969, aged 78. She was the daughter of a clergyman who though he was ordained worked as a teacher of Greek and Latin at Bury Grammar School. She was not born into the aristocratic world portrayed in this story.She was educated at a private school for the daughters of clergymen in Lancashire. She trained as a schoolteacher like her father and got a BA in Classics from the Royal Holloway College in 1914. She was a supporter of Women's Suffrage. She worked as a teacher until 1923 when she became a full-time writer. She never married and had no children.She contracted polio and had to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life.She had moved to Bromley in Kent, just outside London when she was twenty-seven to teach at the school there. She never left the area and her writing was so successful she had a house built for herself on the Common.She was a successful novelist and published forty one novels. Her most famous series of novels was for children and featured the comic figure of William, a rather feckless schoolboy. The first of these Just William was published in 1922. The stories are hilarious and were a great favourite of mine when I was a small boy.She wrote several ghost stories and these were published in 1928 as Mist and Other Stories.Rosalind by Richmal CromptonIn Rosalind, we are plunged once more into that Edwardian world of the leisured rich of England such as we see in the stories of E F Benson. However, the story is also about an artist and his model, such as we heard in The Yellow Sign. It's quite a different story to the Yellow Sign for all that.I think this is one of the best ghost stories we have ever read. The characterisation is very poignant. Our unnam med narrator paints such a picture of Heath as the bored, but talented rich boy to whom everything comes to easily and for whom everything is therefore shallow.He takes Helen, our man's beloved, with no thought. He doesn't even consider our narrator at all. It's not selfishness, it's blindness to the existence of other people. He falls in love with Rosalind but there is no question that an artist's model will every be a life match for the future Viscount of Evesham. It would have been easy for Crompton to suggest Rosalind wished this but she is subtle enough to have Rosalind accept it too. I guess that Rosalind is willing to accept being his mistress and mother of his illegitimate child.Heath is the selfish narcissist that he sees the pregnancy only as an interruption to his idyll. He is bad tempered about this, and we see him pleased that his child and Rosalind have died so as to put an end to the possibility that it will ruin his well-planned marriage to Helen.But Heath is sentimental too. Once he realises he's lost Helen, and is unfulfilled by his planned marriage, he starts to mope and goes over the top bringing down armfuls of orchids and roses in a sentimental but ironically cheap gesture.He is so sentimental that Rosalind gestures him to his death. We can look at this in several ways. First that this is Rosalind's revenge from beyond the grave and that her ghost has connived at this and timed it perfectly just before his wedding. We remember Rosalind's vow that se won't let Helen have him.Or, it might be seen as the workings of a greater Fate, in that Heath's marriage to Helen was untenable because it was in bad faith, and that it could not be allowed to go ahead.Presumably, Helen is going into this marriage with her eyes open. She knows what it will entail and is willing to take it on as a job in order to obtain the position that will suit her as Lady Evesham. But she's from the aristocracy anyway, so it isn't that much of a leap up. In fact, I thought Helen came out of this very well—dignified and mature. Others say she is colourless, but our narrator's comment shows that these observers are superficial. He knows her worth. Heath's death allows him to marry Helen, the woman he'd loved forever.But what does Helen think of our narrator? Is she merely putting up with him as the best job, or did she come to love him.Our narrator isn't a bad chap either. He may be a little cowardly but he does mention Heath's obligation to look after the child and he does go to see Rosalind. He accepts the social conventions and tells her she will forget, so he is no revolutionary. I didn't dislike him though.I thought Helen was the best of the bunch. Our narrator wasn't bad. Rosalind was swept away with the romance of being loved by a Viscount's son, I think. And Heath, he was tragic and pathetic.Still, a great story I thought. It had the moral message of a ghost story with a typical resolution that lined us up with natural justice, but some lovely characterisa
S02E25 The Story of Salome by Amelia B Edwards The Story of Salome by Amelia B EdwardsWe did The Phantom Coach by Amelia B Edwards as Episode 8, which seems a long time ago now.That was a splendidly written story too. To remind ourselves:Amelia Edwards was born in 1831 in London, England. As such she is one of the oldest writers we’ve read so far in this podcast. She died aged only 60 in Weston Supermare, a seaside resort in the west of England.She came from a wealthy background and didn’t have to work, but she was a very successful writer based on her own talents. She was born in London to an Irish mother and a father who had been a British army officer before becoming a banker.She was in fact a very talented woman and had the potential to be a professional artist though her father, a banker, frowned on that as a career. She also made home with a woman, long before such things were accepted by polite British society.She was also an Egyptologist and after a cruise down the Nile and a long stay among the monuments, she devoted all of her efforts to saving the Egyptian monuments and took a lecture tour over several years in the United States to promote the cause.I found this Story of Salome in the Virago Book of Ghost StoriesEdited by Richard Dalby. Richard Dalby had great taste in stories and there are lots of good ones in this anthology.You may, or may not, know that I have a fondness for Venice. I have read this Story of Salome, on the podcast as well as Ray Russell’s Vendetta and Vernon Lee’s A Wicked Voice.I have also written my own Christmas ghost story set in Venice which is available in my More Christmas Ghost Stories, soon to be out as an audiobook once Audible get their finger out. If you can’t wait for Audible, Audiobookstore has it hereThe subject of the story is Salome, daughter of Isaac. She is Jewish and inevitably this throws up attitudes that make me uncomfortable. I do not think this is an anti Semitic story though it does have the theme of converting Salome to Christianity. It is of its period but better than many in its attitudes.I think it very well written and was easy to narrate without the tripping syntax of James or the excitable lists and adjectives of Dickens.Edwards performs the trick of portraying a main character who is reasonably convinced that the grave belongs to Salome’s aged father Isaac, rather that to her. In the end, when the truth is almost impossible to ignore she had a nice little run of him convincing himself that there must be another Salome, that his Salome can’t be dead. We’ve all been there, trying to kid ourselves that something isn’t true when we know fine well it must be.And the description of his flighty friend, Coventy Turnour, loving Salome followed by a disinterested account by our main character only to slowly reveal that he himself is infatuated with her. This is the same trick as him believing the grave is Salome’s fathers. We the readers and listeners know before he admits it to himself both that he loves Salome and that she is dead.And he finds her more beautiful as a ghost, though he doesn’t know it. He talks about her more spiritual beauty.One mystery is why Turnour left Venice. He lost hope in winning Salome quite suddenly, and left. She in her turn converted secretly to Christianity. It’s not explained why, but I wonder whether it was something to do with Turnour? Did she convert for Turnour’s sake and then he grew bored of her and abandoned her?His copying of the inscription on the tomb is the key to understanding the fate of Salome. Tantalisingly, he has the secret in his hands but can’t read it. He sends it to a laggardly professor and Amelia Edwards tortures us and him by having the reply take a long time to come back. This little withholding of information is a neat writer’s trick.Music byThe Heartwood InstituteThe last track with the lovely violin is Under The Rose by The Hare & The Moon, whose lead performer is Grey MalkinWe also feature music by Michael Romeo of <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer"
S02E23 The Story of A Disappearance and An Appearance by M R James THE STORY OF A DISAPPEARANCE AND AN APPEARANCE by M R JamesThe Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance is one of the few M R James stories actually set at Christmas. He was well-known for reading out his stories at Christmas, but few of them are actually set over the festive period. It was first published the June 4, 1913 issue of the Cambridge Review. It then appeared in his anthology A Thin Ghost and Others in 1919. First of all some explanations of words which may be strange to some listeners. Bands are a kind of white tie worn by Anglican clergymen. A bagman is a commercial traveller, a salesman or pedlar. Clearly he'll be late home if he's still on the road on Christmas Eve. So what happened?It appears that Uncle Henry got murdered, his head bashed in and his corpse buried in the sandpit. My reading was that the two Punch & Judy men killed him. These two who were masquerading as Italians but who were English rogues really. The bagman told W R that he had not seen any suspicious characters on the road: no gipsies, tramps or wandering sailors. This all happened not long after the Napoleonic wars and out of work sailors and soldiers had to wander the countryside looking for a living. No Help for Heroes for them. The bagman did see a most wonderful Punch and Judy show. These travelling showmen or 'carnies' as such folk would later be called in the USA are inherently dubious, so it's no wonder that they would murder an innocent clergyman. It is heresy to say anything against the great M R James, but I would only observe that he throws a few 'portents' and 'omens' into the story that seem to have no real bearing on the narrative. They aren't clues or anything, unless I'm missing some subtlety. I mean the owl that wakes our man W R from sleep, the Toby Dog running off and howling, the organ wolving during the funeral and the odd ringing of the bell. These are all signs that something unnatural and eerie is afoot. There is also mention of the bier being put out by mistake and the moth-eaten pall taken out and having to be folded on Christmas Day. Most inappropriate, but they seem more what we would have called 'dungeon dressing' in my D&D days—something to create atmosphere that is not essential to the plot. But again, I may be missing something.The mention of the Toby Dog reminds me of Cole Hawkins and the Toby Dog in John Masefield's Box of Delights that I will be re-reading, or at least watching the 1980s BBC version this Christmas. Punch and Judy is a ghastly tale of murder played out for children and so it has its own horror lurking not far below the surface. It seems that the dead Uncle Henry came as visitation to the two murderous Punch & Judy chaps, like a proper vengeful ghost and cause the first to die of fright inside the Punch and Judy set-up, while the other runs to the sandpit, breaks his neck and reveals the resting place of Uncle Henry, up until now hidden. Mr Bowman the inn keeper seems only there for comic effects, and to show that Uncle Henry was rather serious and straight-laced. I think that M R James has put in the comic inn-keeper and the portents and omens to entertain the audience rather than to drive the narrative. W R also at one point alludes to a vague reason why he's writing everything out in longhand, but this is well before anything supernatural or even out of the ordinary occurs. Again, I can't help but suspect that this is just to gee-up the reader because it comes to not much.James has a way or inserting the jarringly weird into his stories, and it is this weirdness that really unsettles the reader. We have it in the flapping shirt and advancing figure in Whistle And I'll Come To You, and the crawling figure in The Mezzotint. E F Benson does it a bit too. Up until these late Victorian/Edwardian writers, the ghost story is naturalistic. Supernatural elements intrude cleanly into an otherwise normal (if at times Gothic) world. But the figure with the bag over its head would remind James's readers of an execution. The dream itself is almost Grand Guignol in its luridness and the oddness is disturbing. This is James's gift and the reason his stories are genuinely scary. MusicStart and Middle Music by The Heartwood Institute Listen on BandcampEnd music is The Drowning by Dvoynik. Here's a link to Dvoynik on Bandcamp.Free Download AudiobookThe Dalston VampireMy New Collection Of Christmas Ghost StoriesMore Ch
S0210 The Turn of the Screw Part 1 So we begin The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I have wanted to do this story for a long time but have hesitated because it's so long!
Of course, we have read out The Beckoning Fair One, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, and Carmilla that ran on over several episodes, but The Turn of the Screw will be the longest so far.
I reckon it'll take five weeks or so, though if I crack on well, I might get it squeezed into four. By that I mean, just making the episodes longer rather than cutting bits out of the glorious story.
I read The Turn of the Screw donkeys' years ago and liked it, but I'd forgotten much of the story, so it was like reading it for the first time again. A failing memory is one of the blessings of age.
Netflix is currently broadcasting their drama series doing The Haunting of Bly Manor based on The Turn of the Screw, so it's probably timely to do the original.
I am enjoying rereading it. James has the annoying habit for a narrator of breaking up his sentences with parenthetical information, which makes them hard to speak out. Reading them to oneself isn't such a problem.
The Turn of the Screw was published in 1898, and written in 1897-1898 when he had moved to Rye in Sussex, a quaint and picturesque small English town.
It was published as an illustrated serial in Collier's Weekly Magazine. Then in 1898, it was published as a whole in an anthology called The Two Magics.
Just listen to how he constructs the story. He withholds lots and lots and hints and foreshadows.
The introduction, set on Christmas Eve at an English country house, is just a long foreshadowing, whetting your appetite. He sets us up so that, like the guests in the house, we are on pins waiting for the story to begin.
James makes us wonder. We wonder about the gentleman owner whom she has taken a fancy to but who does not wish to be disturbed.
Miles is heavily foreshadowed, and as we end this episode, we can't wait to meet him to see what he's like: bad or good.
Henry JamesJames was born to a well-off New York family. His father was a philosopher, and his grandfather a banker. The grandfather's many allowed the James family to indulge their intellect, talent and tastes.
Henry James was the brother of the famous and ground-breaking philosopher and psychologist William James. He was born in 1843 in New York but moved to live in London, where he died in 1916. He took up British citizenship in the last year of his life; technically, he became a subject of the British Crown—just like me.
The family moved to Boston in 1864 because his brother William was studying law there. Henry set to studying law, but didn't like it and instead turned to literature. The American author Nathanial Hawthorne (who we will read out one day on the Podcast) was a significant early influence on James. James was particularly fond of French literature and of the French authors, Balzac.
Because of a back injury he suffered when fighting a fire, he was not fit to fight in the American Civil War.
He first published in 1863 when he was twenty. It has emerged that James was gay, though, during his lifetime, this fact was hidden. Of course, being gay was a crime in both England and the USA when James was alive.
James is an enormously influential figure in American literature. He wrote several very well-reviewed novels, for example, The Portrait of a Lady, but also The Bostonians, The Ambassadors and The Wings of a Dove.
His work can perhaps better be considered Trans-Atlantic literature rather than purely American or British.
He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912 and 1916.
He turned his hand to ghost stories, which of course were all the rage at the end of the 19th Century. The Turn of the Screw is considered by some, even many, as the best ghost story ever written.
James has a touch that reveals the psychological concerns of his characters. He doesn't write pulp horror stories, oh no.
S0208 The Empty House by Algernon Blackwood Subscribe here, support The Classic Ghost Stories Podcast and obtain exclusive content.S0208: The Empty House by Algernon BlackwoodWe did the Kit Bag by Algernon Blackwood as Episode 20, and there I said:Algernon BlackwoodAlgernon Blackwood was an English writer born in 1869 who ended up as a broadcaster on the radio and TV.His writing was very well received at this time and critics loved him. Even the great American author of weird tales HP Lovecraft cited Blackwood is one of the masters of the craft.Blackwood came from a well-to-do family and was privately educated despite that he was quite an adventurous man. He was interested in Hinduism as a young boy and his career was varied. For example, he ran a dairy farm in Canada and also hotel in the country. It became a newspaper reporter in New York City and was also a bartender and a model and also a violin teacher!All of this time, though he was always writing. He liked being outdoors and his stories often feature the outdoors. He was also interested in the occult and was a member of the hermetic order of the Golden Dawn along with such other characters is Arthur Machen and WB Yeats and Alistair Crowley.At one point he was a paranormal researcher for the British Society for Psychical Research and it is said that this story was based on a case that he investigated.The Empty HouseStructurally, the story is simple: our man hears of the house, he visits the house, he explores the house, weird stuff starts to happen, the ghost is revealed to be a replaying of a tragic scene from the house’s past, the protagonist is merely an observer. If he has an arc, it is the transformation of his attitude to his aunt from seeing her as a feeble old lady to a woman who is in some respects braver than he is.Blackwood lays on the dust, the shadows, the moonlight as well as scurrying beetles and some black thing that scurries off (probably a cat, maybe a rat in the dark). He does this well. We are taken right there.Michael Kellermeyer describes the story as an exploration of fear, rather than ghosts and I think that’s a good point. In that it matches some other stories like Marghatina Laski’s The Tower and H R Wakefield’s Blind Man’s BuffThere’s a whole genre of ‘night in a haunted house’ stories.The Empty House Reminds me of a story I recently read from 1835, No. 252 Rue M. Le Prince by Ralph Adams Cram. That is much older, and more decadent. It’s worth a read though.In 252 Rue. Me Le Prince, as in this story, the person visiting the haunted house is merely a witness to past happenings. At least that was my take. Of course, that is like the Stone Tape theory of hauntings, which holds that the fabric of a building somehow records strong emotion and plays these scenes back as hauntings.It is also reminiscent of Blackwood’s own The Kit Bag, in that we have someone lurking out of sight who eventually is seen and in both cases they are the ghosts of criminals.The story also reminded me of Blind Man’s Buff by HR Wakefield, which we read recently , not to mention The Judge’s House by Bram Stoker, which we haven’t yet got round to.One bizarre incident in The Empty House is when he turns to see his aged aunt’s face is transformed into the face she had as a girl. He finds this horrific and turns from out, but I can’t see why it would be horrible and what purpose it has in this story. I had wondered whether she had been transformed into the murdered maid, but this does not seem to be the case.Blackwood with his stories of outdoor adventure and colourful employment history sounds very much like a man’s man and I am familiar with that archetype from my father’s attitudes and most of the rugby-playing chaps I knew.Blackwood’s stories, especially The Wendigo, are problematic for a modern audience because of their everyday racism. There is also a hint of misogyny, and ageism in his view that the aged aunt (I wonder how old she really was supposed to be – fifty?) is not expected to be brave or dogged, though she proves to be both. He doesn’t paint her as a feeble old woman, which is to Blackwood’s credit.It’s overdue that I recommend Old Style Tales, a one-man labour of love by writer Michael Kellermeyer who produces annotated and illustrated copies of the stories we love.Here's Michael's analysis of the story.NotesSurveyIf you have three minutes, I’d be grateful t
Episode 64 Blind Man's Buff by H R Wakefield Blind Man's Buff by Herbert Russell WakefieldH R Wakefield was born in 1888 in Sandgate, Kent, England and died 1964. He was the son of the Bishop of Birmingham. He was educated at the prestigious Marlborough College and then went to Oxford University where he studied history and played cricket, golf, hockey and football. He was secretary to Viscount Northcliffe and served with the Royal Scots Fusiliers when the First World War broke out and was promoted to Captain. After 1920 he settled in London and worked as chief editor in a publishing house. His wife was American, Barbara Standish Waldo, and he met her when she was in London as her family were wealthy and took a house in London each year for the season. He divorced her in 1936 and married again in 1946. Older now, during the Second World War he served as an air-raid warden.H R's brother Gilbert was a successful playwright.Wakefield was famous for his ghost stories during his life. He published seven volumes of ghost stories during his life. His work was appreciated by August Derleth, H P Lovecraft's disciple and some of his stories were published in Weird Tales. His main influences were M R James and Algernon Blackwood (both of whom we have featured on the podcast.)The poet laureate John Betjeman considered Wakefield in the second rank of ghost story writers after M R James, which was praise indeed. However, M R James wasn't as fond of Wakefield's work. H P Lovecraft on the other hand showered Wakefield in praise and said he reached the heights of horror.Wakefield strongly believed in the paranormal, and it is perhaps because of this he was drawn to write in this field. He claimed to have had personal experiences of supernatural phenomena. This story, Blind Man's Buff, plays on the primal fear of the dark and what might lurk within. In that play on phobia it struck me that it was similar to Marghatina Laski's The Tower, which we read as Episode 13Tony's Ghost Story BooksMy latest book, London Horror Stories is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US. Ghost and horror stories with a sense of place. It's available free for Patrons.It's doing moderately well and the audiobook will be coming in stream soon through Author's Republic, which you'll be able to get on Audible.If you've read it and like it, could you please leave a review on Amazon?All purchases, recommendations and support of London Horror Stories is massively helpful to me.Support Tony on Ko-fi!The show is only possible through the support of appreciative listeners. If you'd like to show your appreciation for the podcast, why not nip over to Tony's Ko-Fi page and buy him a coffee? There are also some free tracks there for download, and others to buy.Go here to visit Tony's Ko-Fi page.For Hardcore Lovers of The Podcast: Pledge via PatreonThe regular support of patrons via Patreon ensures that podcast hosting gets paid every month. If you feel you'd like to be a committed supporter, please sign up at the Patreon page.Music by The Heartwood InstituteYou can listen to the album from which this is taken here. Please support hauntological music!Start Your Own Podcast!I am very happy with the wonderful responsive support and constant innovation of my podcast host, Captivate FM. If you want to start a podcast, you will be supported by them all the way.If you use this affiliate link to join Captivate, I also benefit, so thank you!Do You Shop At Amazon?And if so did you know, that if you click to Amazon on my link, even if you don't buy my book, anything you do buy in that session gives me a tiny little percentage of love. So, buy my book! It's only 99c! Or at least, take a click through and leave my book unbought but go on to buy a car!
Episode 58 The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions Part 1 The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver OnionsBecause this story is actually a novella, I am splitting it probably into three episodes much as I did for Carmilla by J Sheridan Le Fanu.I'm doing The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions for a couple of reasons. Firstly, of course it is a classic ghost story and has been described as a 'cut above' the standard ghost story.This episode represents sections 1-4 of the story.We have done an Oliver Onions story before: The Cigarette Case Episode 36Onions is a lyrical writer and this story is a slow burn. He gives some lovely descriptions of his new flat and the life of the square outside with its school children, cats and dogs and occasional mandolin player.He actually reminds me of Proust. Now, if I was to read out Proust, I'd be at it for the rest of my life.Oliver conjoures Elsie Bengough and is not wholly kind about her. She's a bloomy, pink, moist, lady. In fact, she turns out to the voice of reason, but that's for future episodes.I note again Onions's hidden Welshness. Apart from the fact he's got a Welsh surname: Ab Enion; he has intimate knowledge of a Meirionethshire accent, which I enjoyed doing. I have friends from Meirionydd, you see. And he calls Elsie, Elsie Bengough, which is clearly Welsh, Bengoch, red head; even though she's not ginger. The ghostly influence is wonderfully subtle. We see it at first changing his taste. He furnishes and paints the flat at first elder-flower pale, but then gets strange ideas about introducing more colour. We wonder where these promptings come from.Then he can't work. Ultimately, he dislikes his life's work novel Romilly Bishop. The Reason he doesn't like it is because the main character Romilly is based on Elsie Bengough, his sort-of long-term girlfriend. Is the ghost trying to oust him out?Then he finds a piece of material which he can't identify, but which Elsie Bengough tells him is a harp cover.Then the dripping tap subtly insinuates a tune into his head which he begins to hum and Mrs Barrett recognses as The Beckoning Fair One.Critics have called this the best classic ghost story ever and other say it isn't a ghost story; much like The Yellow Wallpaper or The Horla.However, personally, I do think it's a ghost story. The build up is too deliberate for it all to be chance: the changes in his taste, the artefacts he finds; the harp case for example. For me these carry the energy of The Beckoning Fair One, and she's out to ensnare him.Then there's Elsie Bengough's prescient comment just before the end of Section 3: Who else lives here? She's had an intuition that the house is not deserted; that there's someone or something living there with him. Elsie also has the intuition that the ghost will never allow Oleron to finish Romilly Bishop in that house. She won't because she's jealous that the heroine of Romillyis modelled on Elsie Bengough and the ghost is jealous.It is during the subtle dripping of the tap; the dripping that he later realises introduced the tune of The Beckoning Fair One that he starts to criticise Elsie Bengough so sharply in tones he has never entertained before. I think Onions intends all of this. Oleron is being hypnotised, in my opinion, by the spirit of the houseWho is this Beckoning Fair One and what does she want of him?You'll have to keep listening to find out.Music by The Heartwood InstituteYou can listen to the album from which this is taken hereDownload Charles Dickens The Signalman Free Mp3 Subscribe to our list and keep in touch with the podcast. Learn of new episodes and bonus Content. Support our work PLUS you get a free story right now!(The Story Link is in the Thank You Email)Show Your Support With A Coffee!Buy the thirsty podcaster a coffee...Final Request: The SurveyI want to know what you want. If you have three minutes, I'd be grateful to know what you think of The Classic Ghost Stories Podcast.<a href="
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