Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930) was a man of numerous talents. He was a lawyer, archaeologist, antiquarian, ceramist, curator, author and historian,Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930) was a man of numerous talents. He was a lawyer, archaeologist, antiquarian, ceramist, curator, author and historian, amongst other things. He was founder of the Mercer Museum, which houses Mercer's vast collection of objects from the pre-industrial age, and the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, both of which are located in his hometown of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He was also the author, at the end of his life, of an incredibly neglected book of uncanny stories, November Night Tales, which was first published by Walter Neale in 1928.
The collection has just been republished by Swan River Press, with the additional tale 'The Well of Monte Corbo', which was first published by the Bucks County Historical Society in 1930.
In 'Castle Valley', one fine summer day the narrator, Charlie Meredith, encounters his old friend Pryor, an artist whom he hasn't seen for years, painting in the vicinity of Castle Valley Hill. Pryor has painted a view of the hill, and upon the top of it he has placed a castle, without knowing that there once was one, or the beginnings of one at least, in that very spot. A few days later, the two men go exploring the site, and they spy something glittering in the brambles. The object turns out to be a large piece of rock crystal - a scrying stone. But using the crystal brings about unforeseen consequences.
In 'The North Ferry Bridge', the narrator is a young doctor only recently arrived in Bridgenorth. He occupies the house that was once tenanted by the great chemist Dr. Gooch, who killed his assistant, turned rats into cholera-carrying murder weapons, and vowed revenge upon the judge and the town who condemned and imprisoned him. This tale is the inspiration for the dust jacket design.
Pryor, the artist, reappears in 'The Blackbirds'. It is his birthday, but he's been warned by his spiritualist advisor that a calamity will befall him on this very day. Charles Carrington, a dramatist, and his friend Arthur Norton are surprised to bump into Pryor in the street, as they think he's fled town to avoid his calamity. The three men decide to head off to Deadlock Meadow together. But once there, poor old Pryor disappears.
'The Wolf Book', is the story of the discovery, by a certain professor, of a precious but unholy manuscript at the Monastery of Jollok in the Carpathian mountains. In search of lost treasures, the professor purchases what he thinks is a worthless farm ledger, contained within a two foot long cylinder. Upon opening the ledger, however, he discovers a second manuscript - a Wolf Book - which he then has sealed up in a tin for safekeeping. But the professor isn't the only one interested in this manuscript, and werewolves are said to be able to sniff them out... even if they are concealed inside tin cans.
Phantoms and Fiends by Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes was published by Robert Hale in 2000. It contains twenty-one stories and an afterword, 'On Writing and WrPhantoms and Fiends by Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes was published by Robert Hale in 2000. It contains twenty-one stories and an afterword, 'On Writing and Wraiths'. It has an excellent cover design by Edward Miller (Les Edwards).
When the narrator of 'Moving Day', David Greenfield, moves from his flat into the home of his three great-aunts, he finds that they are obsessed with all things related to death, and especially to moving... the thing that has locals hiding behind tightly closed curtains at night and will, according to the local clergyman, bring the newspaper lot beating a trail to their doors if nobody puts a stop to it.
In 'She Walks on Dry Land', it is the year 1812 and Charles Devereux, Fourth Earl of Montcalm, having arrived in the village of Denham with his servant Patrick, demands rooms for the night at The Limping Sailor inn, but the landlord refuses him. Village elder Josiah Woodward warns, 'come nightfall it bodes ill for any stranger found within the confines of this village', but Devereux is far too stubborn to listen.
In 'The Bodmin Terror', James, an artist, is told by his doctor that he must have peace or face a nervous breakdown, so he decides to go on a motoring holiday to Cornwall with his wife Lydia, who is anything but peaceful. When the car breaks down on the way to Lizard, an old woman emerges from the ice-chilled mist and beckons them to follow her, but the old crone has an ulterior motive for coming to the couple's aid.