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The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories
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The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  778 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
The Victorians excelled at telling ghost stories. In an age of rapid scientific progress, the idea of a vindictive past able to reach out and violate the present held a special potential for terror. Throughout the nineteenth century, fictional ghost stories developed in parallel with the more general Victorian fascination with death and what lay beyond it. Though they were ...more
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published April 24th 2003 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published October 31st 1991)
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Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ghost-story, 2011, review
Review from Badelynge.
Excellent selection of 35 ghost stories from the Victorian age, chronologically compiled here dating from 1852-1908. The stories included have been selected as much for aspects of innovation or for the part they played in influencing stylistic developments within the genre than their actual quality. Though there are some great ghost stories here and barring three or four stories are generally of very good quality.
Along with the stories are a comprehensive list of all ghost
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who like Victorian literature and ghost stories (duh.).
The reader of this volume of Victorian ghost stories must come equipped with a pre-existing fondness for the form. Any reader with that fondness would do well to obtain the spooky tome. The editors have done a fine job of pulling together some of the many gems of the genre. It has a nice mix of big names and lesser knowns, along with a couple of stories by our old friend “anonymous.” Among the biggies are Mrs Gaskell, Dickens, Henry James, M.R. James, Wilkie Collins, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robe ...more
Bill FromPA
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Belanger
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Effective enough collection of [see title]. Some struck me as more creepy than others. I read this because I'm writing a historical horror novel that takes place, mostly, in 1890s New England--an area profoundly effected by Victorian mores. I was also interested in how people behaved and spoke at that time. How does one turn on a gaslight? How important was it to the time? How was it to ride in a horse-carriage? And so get the idea.

Many of the authors are familiar: Wilkie Collins; Rober
Sreemoyee Acharya
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love stories about the paranormal. Also I'm fascinated by Victorian era literature--the manors, countrysides, Downton Abbey like plots. So this book mixed the two passions and was an excellent read for a Friday evening, post work. Yes I am quite weird.
Lee Foust
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
See the updates below for a few words on each of the tales.
Whitney White
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
These stories weren't very scary (because they are Victorian), but I quite enjoyed reading them.
Nov 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Like most anthologies this has some really great stories, a lot of rather average stories and one or two really awful stories. Most of the stories were interesting but could have been either longer or shorter to improve them. One thing that got annoying was that every other story would be told by a narrator who says they don't believe in ghosts but here is a story that is REALLY real. It seems no one was actually allowed to believe in ghost stories in Victorian times but they sure as heck liked ...more
Rachel Burton
Ghost stories were ludicrously popular during the Victorian period -- a time of huge transition, an age shaped more than any other by change, mostly industrial, but with the final consequences of these changes remaining unclear. With this shadow of change falling across life in general culminating, no doubt, in anxiety, the ghost story not only gave the Victorian reader an outlet for this anxiety but the ghosts themselves anchored a stable past in an unstable present.

Having said all this I was q
Oct 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: scary story lovers
This anthology includes a number of spine tinglers from the nineteenth century. I really enjoy it because the stories are long enough to tell you a real story and establish a connection and engagement with the character and setting before introducing the supernatural element. This makes the reader more invested so that the fear exhibited by the characters is shared in a way that is sometimes absent in other collected works of "scary stories".

I also appreciate this work because I love that stori
Aug 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: spooky-things
As with any anthology, some stories in this book are impressive, while others are underwhelming, and some are both. Unfortunately, many anthologies, particularly those featuring ghost stories, are probably best appreciated when you read each story in its entirety all at once, and you spread the stories out, reading only a couple each week. My life doesn't allow me to do this right now, at least not during the school year, so everything started to blur together and much of the tension-building wa ...more
Sep 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I had to read this as part of the assigned reading for a literature class. Personally, I'm not keen on reading anthologies as I don't like paying full-book prices when it's likely I'll only enjoy a quarter of it, but the syllabus spoke, and for the sake of my GPA, I obeyed.

Being that it's billed as "Victorian" ghost stories, I expected things to be rather fussy, a la Wilkins. To my surprise, many of the stories were downright scary. Modern readers may tend to associate ghost stories with things
Catherine Siemann
Jun 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: victorians
The Victorians liked to tell ghost stories at Christmastime, so I've been working my way through this collection, half a dozen or more stories at a time, for the last . . . four or five? . . . years. Some of them are more memorable than others, and there's a certain same-ness that my method of reading helped to minimize, but overall, thoroughly enjoyable.

Also delighted, towards the end of the collection, to rediscover "Thurnley Abbey" by Perceval Landon, in which a rationalist Edwardian's respo
Feb 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who go bump in the dark
Shelves: horror
A very nice compilation of ghost stories, of varying quality. Thurnley Abbey, the Le Fanu entry, and of course the M. R. James are standouts. A couple are set in India, but, disappointingly to me, use perfectly conventional English ghost story subject matter and only use the Indian setting for a little background color -- I guess in its own way, that tells you something about the British in India. Lots of major writers are represented -- Wilkie Collins, Kipling, Conan Doyle -- as well as some ni ...more
Wonderfully creepy collection with a wide variety of the more high quality Victorian ghost stories. Particularly enjoyed "At Chrighton Abbey" by Mary Elizabeth Braddon and "An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street" by J.S. Le Fanu. It's a really good book for its representation of many female authors.
Alix Singer
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Read for Disc 1312 Freshman year in college. Great for old ghost stories but are not anywhere near what we would consider scary in our modern day culture. Stories are strictly about ghosts and tropes such as being watched or hearing footsteps. Stories are very un-climactic but considered extremely uncanny and horrific for their time period. Definitely a must read if you are interested in scary stories, but be prepared to be more creeped out or confused than scared out of your mind.
Joy Robertson-maciel
I found this collection very interesting. Such a variety of styles, some lyrical and almost poetic, tender and sweet. Others quite brutal, all dedicated to that fascination with ghosts. I loved the detail woven through the stories, dress, food, decor, customs, expression, all from this most fascinating era of our history. A worthy October read, and I must confess, I am inclined to revisit the question of ghosts in our midst.
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
In my opinion, what distinguishes this book from others of the kind is its brilliant introduction to the ghost story as a genre. It provided an answer to many questions I'd had and made the reading of some of the stories even more pleasant.
There is also a good selection of stories and my favourites include J.S. Le Fanu, Elizabeth Gaskell, M.R. James and Wilkie Collins.
Oct 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who enjoy dull ghost stories.
I agree completely with Adam's review. I think if they took out the really good stories and the above average stories, and put them into one slim volume, the reader would be much more satisfied. There were several stories that were really creepy, and a few that weren't especially spooky but were still enjoyable.
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A marvelous collection of ghost stories specifically gathered to illustrate the way Victorian people viewed these tales. The editors chose stories over the entire Victorian period and they are in chronological order. It's very interesting to see how the tenor of the stories changes over times, towards the end of the period, they're more sinister and less fun. Great book!
Apr 20, 2009 marked it as did-not-finish
I love love love all things Victorian, except repression and lack of self-expression of course, but after finishing the first story in this collection i remembered i'm a scaredy-cat and hate hate hate ghost stories.
Jul 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Can't say that every story was totally engrossing and awesome, but I suppose that's the nature of a short story collection. However, it was totally bitchin'... if you like the Victorian era and/or ghost stories.
Feb 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very good stuff. Nothing here that really chilled me to the bone in a "think about it late at night and get nervous" kind of way, but a good bunch of stories that also give some insight into the fears and concerns of Victorian society.
Sep 30, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: horror-fiction
A dry collection of short stories. Most of them are hit or miss. I was unimpressed.
Nan Silvernail
Nov 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
A lovely collection of ghost stories. Light the lanterns, curl up with the cat and enjoy.
Iain Houten
Nov 05, 2009 rated it liked it
a few stories a week in reading short narratives module
Classic victorian ghost stories
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
there were some good short stories in here
Victorian Ghost Stories: An Oxford Anthology by Michael Cox (1991)
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Michael Andrew Cox was an English biographer, novelist and musician.
He also held the position of Senior Commissioning Editor of reference books for Oxford University Press.
More about Michael Cox...