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Conversations in the Parlor > Victorian Ghost Stories

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message 1: by Ben (new)

Ben Lovegrove I am very fond of these and have many in my collection


message 2: by Paula (new)

Paula | 1006 comments Ben wrote: "I am very fond of these and have many in my collection"

Can you give us a few examples to perhaps prompt some discussion on this topic? Thanks! :)


message 3: by Ben (last edited Mar 15, 2010 10:32AM) (new)

Ben Lovegrove Well, the Virago Book of Ghost Stories is a good start and it begins with "Napoleon and the Spectre" by Charlotte Bronte.

I recently bought an anthology of Mrs Gaskell's supernatural tales.

"The Phantom Coach" by Amelia B Edwards is a particular favourite.

I have the British Library's bibliography of ghost stories and it covers the years 1820 - 1950. So while the ghost story was at its peak in the Victorian era, later writers like Edith Wharton were also very talented and are worth considering.
I consider Sheridan le fanu to be a master, would recommend Schalken the Painter. Of course phantom coaches appear in Thomas Hardy's work - and I have yet to read Wessex Tales - although I am thinking mainly of short stories rather than novels. I regard the ghost story as a development from the gothic novel.

Would be interested to hear from anyone who has a favourite or has read something along these lines.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Ben wrote: "Well, the Virago Book of Ghost Stories is a good start and it begins with "Napoleon and the Spectre" by Charlotte Bronte.

I recently bought an anthology of Mrs Gaskell's supernatural tales.

"The..."


While not Victorian, I'll second the quality of Edith Wharton's collection of ghost stories. They are all quite good. As a whole, I love Edith Wharton's short stories; they may be even better than her novels. Cheers!


message 6: by Sasha (new)

Sasha | 0 comments Wow, I didn't realise Mrs Gaskell wrote ghost stories. Thanks Ben, she is one of my favourite writers.


message 7: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (guidingsongbird) | 9 comments Gothic Tales by Gaskell threw me from all doubt that there is something about 19th century horror that can still get you. Unlike most of our "gruesome" tales that we spin with blood, fang and guts, the psychological trauma has a heat to it, and it feels...very real!

I have GOT to buy this book...Gaskell and her fellow writers are a great addition to any shelf.


The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) | 739 comments I have Edith Whartons ghost stories at home and I have read the frist two stories which are great but left me very confused.

I also have

Late Victorian Gothic Tales by Roger Luckhurst Late Victorian Gothic Tales which looks great but I want to read it next autumn when I feel I can curl up with it.


message 9: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (guidingsongbird) | 9 comments Claps for thee, Boof. Oxford gives great credit to these collections with their art work and intros. :)
Boof wrote: "I have Edith Whartons ghost stories at home and I have read the frist two stories which are great but left me very confused.

I also have

Late Victorian Gothic Tales by Roger Luckhurst Late ..."



message 10: by Ray (new)

Ray (woadwarrior) | 1 comments The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories by Michael Cox The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories and The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories (Oxford Books of Prose) by Michael Cox The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories are both very good collections of Victorian (and mostly Victorian for the second book) ghost stories.


message 11: by Virginie (last edited Mar 23, 2010 02:11AM) (new)

Virginie | 36 comments Thanks everybody for these mouthwatering recommendations !!!!
Well ,now I definitely want to buy The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories and The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories !!!!


Here are some more : "The Haunted House" by Charles Dickens.I got it in yesterday's mail.
"The Haunted Hotel" by Wilkie Collins.Not read either yet.
I have E Gaskell "Gothic Tales" on my TBR pile.
Sheridan Le Fanu's"House by the Churchyard"was written during the XIXth century but the action takes place in the 1700's.Own as well but haven't read
My favorite ghost story, and book by the way, of all times remains "Wuthering Heights " !!!


The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) | 739 comments All this ghostie talk is getting whetting my appetite for some gothic / ghost stories. I may start dusting one or two off the shelves soon.


message 13: by Ben (new)

Ben Lovegrove I would recommend the Virago Book of Ghost Stories edited by Richard Dalby, it's entirely women authors but has some great classics.


message 14: by FaMo (new)

FaMo I had curled up with the Virago Book of Ghost Stories last October (appropriately enough) and likewise recommend it. I found the atmosphere of Margaret Oliphant's "The Open Door" the most eerie. The overall anthology certainly sets a mood, and it was interesting to see how the ghost story evolved over the decades through different voices. For other 19th century stories, I also turn to Edgar Allan Poe and Guy de Maupassant.


message 15: by Virginie (new)

Virginie | 36 comments Fallen wrote: "I had curled up with the Virago Book of Ghost Stories last October (appropriately enough) and likewise recommend it. I found the atmosphere of Margaret Oliphant's "The Open Door" the most eerie. ..."

I like Poe and Maupassant very, very much as well...my favorite are probably "The Fall of the Usher House" by Poe and "le Horla" by Maupassant who is a writer of my area in France, Normandy.


message 16: by Danielle The Book Huntress (last edited Apr 05, 2010 07:43AM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) I see some great titles mentioned. MR James is one of the best ghost story writers. Highly recommended. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary and More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary are free as ebooks on Kindle. I collect classic ghost story anthologies. They're a passion of mine.


message 17: by Virginie (new)

Virginie | 36 comments That's great Danielle, I love classic ghost stories as well, I bought a collection of MR James'stories recently but have not read them yet.


 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) You might also like:

F. Marion Crawford
William Hope Hodgson
Ambrose Bierce


message 19: by Virginie (last edited Apr 05, 2010 10:11AM) (new)

Virginie | 36 comments Thanks so much, I am going to check these out right now !!!


 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) You're welcome. Hodgson is sort of Edwardian as well. Probably MR James in some of his stories, also.


message 21: by Ben (new)

Ben Lovegrove Hodgson is more a writer of weird tales. I read the Ghost Pirates and didn't care for it. I like MR James but Sheridan le fanu is the master (I give MR James credit for reintroducting him to the reading public though - apparently he was almost forgotten until James acknowledged him as an influence and edited Madame Crowl's ghost)

Have today been to see a play called Ghost Stories at the Lyric Hammersmith. It was written by Jeremy Dyson.I recommend if anyone gets the chance to see it.


 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) The Carnacki tales by Hodgson are ghost stories. I agree that Hodgson does have weird tales under his belt, as well as more traditional ghost stories.


message 23: by Katie (new)

Katie | 6 comments Hi everyone, I'm a newbie here, but I'm currently reading Henry James - The Turn of the Screw. Really weird, but really compelling!


The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) | 739 comments Katie, I have heard real mixed reviews about this book - in fact most people I know hate it. I haven't read it yet but I must admit I really like the look of it.

let us know how you get on.


message 25: by Katie (new)

Katie | 6 comments I was the same really - lots of different people were saying different things. I went into Waterstones and read a page or two and thought I'll give it a try! it's only about 120 pages so wont take long to read, I'll keep you informed of what I think! :)


message 26: by Malcolm (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 344 comments Ben wrote: "Well, the Virago Book of Ghost Stories is a good start and it begins with "Napoleon and the Spectre" by Charlotte Bronte.

I recently bought an anthology of Mrs Gaskell's supernatural tales.

"The..."


Napoleon and the Spectre is a very brief and amusing tale from Charlotte Bronte. And not one wasted word.

An Account of some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street by Joseph Sheridsn Le Fanu, is perhaps a little unsettling still but highly amusing. He latter re-wrote the tale as Mr Justice Harbottle, a far more gothic version by far. Elizabeth Gaskell's The Old Nurse's Story is an acclaimed classic of the Victorian gothic ghost story. At Creighton Abbey is also an absorbing read.


message 27: by Malcolm (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 344 comments Boof wrote: "I have Edith Whartons ghost stories at home and I have read the frist two stories which are great but left me very confused.

I also have

Late Victorian Gothic Tales by Roger Luckhurst Late ..."


I didn't enjoy this collection but that's just my personal taste. However, it may be right up the street of many other readers of this genre of fiction.


message 28: by Malcolm (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 344 comments Jenna wrote: "I didn't know about Mrs Gaskell's ghost stories either, so will have a look for those. I do love her writing."

The Old Nurse's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell is the exception and not the general rule of her work. It is the only true ghost story in the Penguin Classics 'Gothic Tales', which is a collection of nine of her fine short stories :o)


message 29: by Malcolm (last edited Dec 09, 2010 07:47AM) (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 344 comments You might care to check out Le Fanu's 'In a Glass Darkly' which contains five of his short stories. 'Green Tea' is an excellent tale of the supernatural. The collection contains the lesbian vampire story 'Carmilla', said to be an influence on fellow Irish authors Bram Stoker, who ia said to have taken the overall narrator of these tales as the prototype model of Van Helsing in Dracula.


message 30: by Malcolm (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 344 comments Btw 'At Creighton Abbey' is by Mary Braddon :o)


message 31: by Malcolm (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 344 comments I can also recommend highly Robert Louis Stevenson's 'The Body-Snatchers'.


message 32: by Malcolm (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 344 comments Malcolm wrote: "Boof wrote: "I have Edith Whartons ghost stories at home and I have read the frist two stories which are great but left me very confused.

I also have

[bookcover:Late Victorian Gothic Tales|6..."


I meant to say I didn't like Late Victorian Ghost Stories :o)


message 33: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 1880 to 1920 was prime ghost story time. Many are listed here:

http://www.horrormasters.com/Themes/h...

One very snowy winter,I curled up with ghost stories from the library every night. I think I read a dozen or more anthologies. I consider them good only if they creeped me out.


message 34: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) I haven't read anything by Poe, maybe his short stories, but he always creeps me out.


message 35: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 He meant to creep you out, and if still did so 150 years after writing, they're good stories. Poe's stuff is supernatural, but not necessarily ghost stories. And some of his stories aren't supernatural at all, just inhabited by psychopaths.

Malcolm, you have a good list, and I'll try some.


message 36: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) I guess it would be in a supernatural genre, horror to me is anything be it ghost stories, supernatural, etc.


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