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The Collected Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  762 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
United by a perfect chilling atmosphere and graceful literary style, these ghostly stories range from the horror of vampires, homicidal ghosts and monstrous spectral worms and slugs (appearing in the classic "Negotium Perambulans" and "And No Bird Sings") to the satire of humorous tales that poke fun at charlatan mediums and fake seances ("Spinach" and "Mr Tilly's Seance") ...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published December 18th 2001 by Carroll & Graf (first published January 1st 1992)
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Bill  Kerwin

E.F. Benson, one of the most accomplished practitioners of the classic English ghost story, usually begins his tale in a tranquil upper class British setting--perhaps a country house party or a fishing lodge or a newly acquired apartment--in which the horror gradually unfolds. His stories are invariably well-written, but there are two drawbacks to his work. First of all, he often sets his stories in a milieu where people openly proclaim their belief in ghosts and their own psychic abilities, eng
Nancy Oakes
Feb 13, 2013 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, ghostly-tales
The blurb on the back of my copy of this book states that this edition is "one book that no fan of Benson or of good storytelling can afford to miss." Since this is a book of ghost stories, I'll add that this volume is a definite no-miss if you are a fan of the well-told, classic ghostly tale. At 672 pages, this book became my leisurely go-to, late-night, under-the-covers read to be enjoyed once the house was quiet rather than a one-sitting kind of thing, and thinking back on it, I see a great d ...more
Aug 01, 2007 Kay rated it it was amazing
Not all of Benson's ghost stories hit the mark, but the ones that do -- well, they'll literally haunt you. My favorite stories in this anthology, though, are wistful and gentle tales, such as "How Fear Departed from the Long Gallery" and "Pirates." I read my favorites from from time to time, and they only seem to improve with each reading. Benson is best known for his comic masterpieces such as the Lucia series, but he's equally adept at the classic ghost tale. His ability to evoke atmosphere is ...more
Jul 28, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing
Benson is uneven - some of this themes seem to crop up again and again - but at his best he is a superb writer of ghost stories, and this book is a bargain! If you cannot afford the five volume set from Ash-Tree including quite a few stories that never made their way into the canonical collections, do not hesitate to buy this one.

Nov 07, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
This collection is brilliant, and apart from MR James there is no teller of ghost stories who can make my hair stand on end and give me deliciously disturbed dreams like Benson. It's a book to read together, shortly before Christmas, by candlelight, snuggled up on a couch, with giggles and shivers and looking over the shoulder occasionally into the shadows, then running upstairs in the dark and laughing at such things. In my dreams...
Hugo Emanuel
Oct 23, 2012 Hugo Emanuel rated it really liked it
E.F. Benson's ghostly tales are varied as they are enjoyable. Ghosts, Psychic Vampirism, Healers, Witches, Reincarnated souls, human sacrifices brought on by ghosts, dangerous and secret cults, Vampires, Elementals, Charlatan Psychics, haunted automobiles and even giant monkeys populate these pages of absolutely engrossing supernatural tales. Even the moods that pervade these stories are quite varied; some are very bleak and grisly considering the period at which they were written, others humoro ...more
I think I remember The Twilight Zone episode Wikipedia is talking about, that one inspired by “The Bus Conductor”, although I don’t recall whether it impressed me as much as this short story did. As this entire volume did.

I must confess I’m not a compulsive reader of Gothic literature, but now and again I feel like looking into the dark side of imagination☺. And here I am, somehow guiltily enjoying this collection of “spook” stories, some of them really, really good.

What I liked best and marked
Julie Davis
Jun 09, 2012 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing
E.F. Benson is better known for his Mapp & Lucia stories, which I adored when I discovered them as a young adult. I didn't know that he wrote ghost stories but when I came across a podcast which is working its way through the stories in a leisurely fashion, I immediately began listening. The narration is wonderful and the stories are excellent.
Jan 21, 2009 Shane rated it really liked it
To love horror and not to have read E.F. Benson's Collected Stories is to miss out on a real classic. If you read this book, do not read "The Room in the Tower" when you are alone. You will go mad.
Feb 27, 2012 Anne rated it it was amazing
Head to head with M. R. James for the best of the best in British ghost stories.
Jul 16, 2007 T.A. rated it it was amazing
These aren't ghost stories these are ghost stories.
(OK, what I am really reviwing here is a collection called "The Collected Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson," but this is as close as I could find on goodreads to the book that I just finished....)

I had read E.F. Benson's "The Horror Horn" to start with (a collection of 13 of his best ghost stories), after seeing that it was considered one of the Top 100 Horror Books of all time in Newman & Jones' excellent overview volume. Each of those 13 stories was so good that I just had to have more, and so
Orrin Grey
Sep 20, 2011 Orrin Grey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I've not quite read every story in this just yet, but close enough. I'll be finishing it today. But I think I've read enough to say that it's amazing, and I loved it!

I was, of course, familiar with some of Benson's work from anthologies and the like, and I recently read his collection Spook stories and enjoyed it, but I didn't realize how much I loved Benson until I got this whole collection and started going through the stories, picking at them willy-nilly in whatever order struck me. I didn't
John Wiltshire
Hah, I'm starting this when I get to work. Seemed ideal as it's short stories and apparently very readable. I'm thinking this will be quite atmospheric. I'll update as usual when done (or given up, which seems to be the more frequent response to books these days).
Nope, gave up on these. Just not my taste.
Jul 08, 2014 Kaethe rated it really liked it
Shelves: ghosts
Dahl mentions "The Hanging of Alfred Wadham" in the introduction to Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories, and I don't specifically remember that one, so I need to check it out.
Apr 13, 2010 Linda rated it it was amazing
Can't say enough good things about this collection that I bought for 50 cents at a library sale.600 some odd pages of pure delight.Great read.
Rick F.
Oct 03, 2009 Rick F. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my all time favorite book!!!!!!!!!!!
Edward Frederic Benson was one of those enormously prolific Edwardian authors who, despite achieving quite a bit of fame in his time, has drifted some distance from his original status. He wrote over a hundred books, the vast majority of which are now out of print, but he is still known today for the Mapp and Lucia novels. These are a set of comedies based around the upper middle classes of his own time; I’ve never read any of them, though apparently they are pretty decent. More interesting to m ...more
Richard Hands
Jan 31, 2017 Richard Hands rated it really liked it
Better known for his 'Mapp and Lucia' comedy stories, E.F. Benson also had a long and distinguished career as a writer of ghost stories, and nearly all of them are collected here. That is a both a good and a bad thing. There are so many that you're bound to find some that hit the right spot - I read one of his stories in an anthology many years ago - Caterpillars - and it still gives me the creeps to recall it even now. However, Benson isn't, I'm afraid to say, M.R. James or Arthur Machen, and a ...more
May 06, 2012 Georgie rated it really liked it
I gave it only four stars because while I really enjoyed most of the stories, the last four or so were so dull and silly that I skipped them (one story included a bloke going on for about four pages about how wonderful his friend's new car is, with it having no real bearing on the story. I think Mr Benson was indulging himself in a blokeish car-geek moment here) and while E.F Benson is a fine ghost/horror story in his own right, he's nowhere near as good as M.R. James, and a lot of the stories w ...more
Feb 14, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Benson's collected ghost stories - of the 50 I must admit that more than a few are now just period pieces - the chills maybe too sedate and stately for current tastes and, en masse, Benson's conventions - the bachelor protagonist at some out of the way resort a tad predictable - but the finest dozen or so are excellent "The Bus Conductor" with it's eerie cry of 'room for one more on top', the rural witchcraft of "The Wishing Well", satanism in "The Sanctuary" but also in the gentle mocking of 20 ...more
Greg Kerestan
Mar 03, 2016 Greg Kerestan rated it it was amazing
When I was thirteen, I picked up a "great tales of horror and the supernatural" audiobook on cassette from my library, and heard what I still believe to this day to be the scariest story I had ever heard: E. F. Benson's "The Face." I've told it around campfires and to friends late at night for years, always shuddering myself.

Benson is a fantastic writer, sandwiched between the antiquarian tendencies of M. R. James and the world-building weirdness of H. P. Lovecraft (why do horror writers so ofte
Oct 03, 2012 scarlettraces rated it liked it
Shelves: loaners, fiction
i liked the evocation of the lost world the stories take place in (contemporary to Benson, of course), particularly the earliest stories where motoring is clearly a novelty and an adventure, more than the supernatural element, which tends to follow an identifiable pattern when read en masse like this - malign presence is observed, moves closer and closer to the house each time it's sighted, eventually brushing unseen past the protagonist/narrator and ending in sudden, horrid death. and i'm afrai ...more
Elegant and genteel, but 600 pages of it is a bit of overkill. Would probably work better reading one story a night...back cover says: "His stories are extremely varied in content"...well, not really--they're ghost stories. And certainly not in style...though "Pirates" was a different story than the others. But there's always golf and motor cars, and a house me and a friend decided to stay in for a few months, and invisible steps and guys you see for just a moment, and sudden rainstorms...still, ...more
Janith Pathirage
May 31, 2015 Janith Pathirage rated it really liked it
'How Fear Departed from the Long Gallery' is what I call a perfect horror story. It got everything one would expect from such a ghostly tale. Tragic, scary and so emotional. This story is a rare gem. All evil spirits were human once and some of them didn't have a choice for becoming what they are. I really felt for the 2 spirits in this story because circumstances pushed them to become evil. In this story, E.F. Benson shows humans could be more terrifying and cruel (not to mention disgusting !) ...more
Les Wilson
Aug 09, 2014 Les Wilson rated it liked it
As with all short story collections, the quality of the stories varies. This is no exception. The stories vary from 1* to 4*. I think the book contains too many stories, as on more than one occasion I got the feeling that I had read the story before. Perhaps the secret is to read it in small doses.
Lady Lovecraft
Jan 11, 2016 Lady Lovecraft rated it really liked it
This is a really nice collection. I was drawn to it by the cover and stayed for good reading :-) One thing I love about collections is the pace. Like a snack, have a little here and there, but this was like chips, I couldn't have just one!
Ivan Sagesse
Jul 05, 2016 Ivan Sagesse marked it as to-read
Valdemar 13
Jun 25, 2010 Claire rated it liked it
Disappointing in may respects, since I love his Mapp and Lucia stuff. Can be a bit sluggish and themes are repeated. Still worth a look for folks looking for spooky short stories.
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“...vicinity to the sea is desirable, because it is easier to do nothing by the sea than anywhere else, and because bathing and basking on the shore cannot be considered an employment but only an apotheosis of loafing. ("Expiation")” 30 likes
“The subject dropped, and we sat on in the dusk that was rapidly deepening into night. The door into the hall was open at our backs, and a panel of light from the lamps within was cast out to the terrace. Wandering moths, invisible in the darkness, suddenly became manifest as they fluttered into this illumination, and vanished again as they passed out of it. One moment they were there, living things with life and motion of their own, the next they quite disappeared. How inexplicable that would be, I thought, if one did not know from long familiarity, that light of the appropriate sort and strength is needed to make material objects visible.

Philip must have been following precisely the same train of thought, for his voice broke in, carrying it a little further.

'Look at that moth,' he said, 'and even while you look it has gone like a ghost, even as like a ghost it appeared. Light made it visible. And there are other sorts of light, interior psychical light which similarly makes visible the beings which people the darkness of our blindness.' ("Expiation")”
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