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The Collected Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  1,261 ratings  ·  77 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 ...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published December 18th 2001 by Carroll & Graf (first published January 1st 1992)
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 ·  1,261 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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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,
Nancy Oakes
Feb 13, 2013 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 ...more
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 picked up this collection of every single one of Benson's spooky tales, 54 in all. This collection certainly did not disappoint; I loved every single one of these ghost stories, and was ...more
Hugo Emanuel
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, owned
Wordsworth Editions! How much I love you! Let me count the ways... Or rather, I won't because it would take me forever to achieve the proper numerals.
This dirt cheap volume has a mammoth number of 720 pages and there is not a single bad sentence on 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
Aug 01, 2007 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 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.

Julie Davis
Jun 09, 2012 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. This collection has a lot more stories than the podcast, some very funny, some very creepy - all wonderful.
Nov 07, 2009 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...
Tristram Shandy
Cornwall Seems to Be a Pretty Dangerous Place

I had never heard of E.F. Benson before, and to be honest, the cover of this book made me open it with a feeling of skepticism only to find out that this is one of the eeriest, most bloodcurdling collections of horror stories that I have ever read.

Of course, a collection of horror stories by the same author will always feature some repetitive elements like the motif of popping down to Cornwall for relaxation only in order to meet with some
Jim Smith
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such wonderful variety, from the almost campy creeps of 'Spinach' and 'Mrs Ampworth' to the grimmer 'The Room in the Tower' and 'Negotium Perambulans'. Benson is widely acknowledged as one of the masters of the ghost story, but I feel he has become somewhat underrated in current 'weird fiction' circles.
Edoardo Albert
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book might well qualify as the perfect bedtime read: the stories are all around 10 to 15 pages, so ideal for a twenty-minute read, then lights out, lie down and suddenly jerk awake as the house creaks and some presence enters the room... So, maybe not ideal bedtime reading, if you're prone to nightmares. I, though, am not, so I really did take this as my nightly read for a couple of months, working my way through these morbidly satisfying stories. EF Benson is a rare beast: a writer whose ...more
Hugo Emanuel
Oct 23, 2012 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 ...more
Rick F.
Oct 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my all time favorite book!!!!!!!!!!!
I think I remember The Twilight Zone episode Wikipedia is talking about, that one inspired by The Bus Conductor, although I dont recall whether it impressed me as much as this short story did. As this entire volume did.

I must confess Im 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 as an
Helen Carolan
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A terrific array of ghost stories. Most were wonderful but found the last two a bit daft.
Dr. Fiona M. Clements-Russell
As a chronic insomniac, much of my reading takes place through the night. In some ways, perhaps that is why I completely fell in love with this collection of stories - many of them told in the first person - it began to feel like I was the 'friend' who had happened to call round one evening, on seeing a lamp still lit at my writer friend's window, and we were settling down by the fireside to discuss the strange and the supernatural he so wonderfully describes in his writing. It soon became an ...more
Orrin Grey
Sep 20, 2011 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
Craig Herbertson
Hugo said it for me. Wordsworth have really excelled with these Tales of Mystery and The Supernatural. Without their efforts I would never have realized that Benson is a premier league horror writer - he has his faults - at times in his 'middle period a little too predictive, at times not perhaps horrible enough but there are some utter gems in this collection - 'Steps' being one. He's a four and a half star writer in a five star edition here.
Jan 21, 2009 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 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 rated it it was amazing
These aren't ghost stories these are ghost stories.
H.E. Bulstrode
A Volume to be savoured
The fatness of this volume, clocking in at over 700 pages, bears testimony to E.F. Bensons prolific output of ghost stories and supernatural tales. Their range, in terms of both subject matter and tone, is wider than that of most who have written in the genre, which should not be surprising given that he was a highly-successful author of the satirical Mapp and Lucia novels, amongst others.

Perhaps the best known of the short stories included in this anthology is The
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful compilation of ghost stories set in the picturesque background of the English country side. Each story pulls you in as the events unfold gradually thus letting the reader savor the intense moments of paranormal manifestation. The overall feel of the read is a cozy one and the description of the English landscape serves the purpose of painting a vivid picture in which the reader is transported from the very first story.
Riju Ganguly
Long-long ago, in one of those Best Horror anthologies that try to advertise itself with some screaming creature on the cover, I had come across E.F. Benson.
And I had been suitably impressed.
The guy is wordy indeed. Unlike the nuanced clippings of M.R. James or the deeply unsettling deliberations of Henry James, this guy went on & on & on .
And succeeded in scaring me a lot!
As a result, and after reading more of his stories here & there, I finally decided to get the whole lot of them,
Maria Lago
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
There is much to discover and enjoy in this wonderful compilation that never gets repetitive despite the common thread that unites all stories: fear and horror. Sometimes the uncanny comes from ghosts, other times from real everyday objects, and other times from the excited imagination of a gentleman, who might be very proper and all-English, but who is, nontheless, as vulnerable to madness and hallucinations as you and I. I believe all Benson's protagonists are Benson himself, cleverly ...more
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.
asif khan
Sep 07, 2018 rated it liked it
A delightful collection of Victorian (?) ghost stories although they're all of the formula:

Spooky Guy: Do you believe in ghosts?
Skeptic guy: Fuck off mate no such thing just fuck off fuck RIGHT off
Spooky Guy: *tells ghost story*
Skeptic: Think you might have a point there actually fuck me! SHIT! did you see that?
Kaethe Douglas
Jul 08, 2014 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 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.
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Damn good, fun, stories that have kept me entertained as bedtime reading. I'm loving these Wordsworth Editions.
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Edward Frederic "E. F." Benson was an English novelist, biographer, memoirist, archaeologist and short story writer.

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As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of young ...
46 likes · 10 comments
“...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")” 42 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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