Quotation of the Week: Impressions of Ireland

This week’s quotation is provided by Sydney Owenson/Lady Morgan’s The Wild Irish Girl: A National Tale  (1806). Fed up with his son Horatio’s  feckless behaviour, The Earl of M dispatches him to Connaught where he hopes he will focus on his legal studies. Upon his arrival in Dublin, Horatio writes a letter to a friend to share his initial impressions of Ireland… “…I feel the…

Insult of the Week: I am often sorry to notice how unrefined your ideas are

In Mary Cholmondley’s 1893 novel Diana Tempest (vol I, vol II, vol III), our eponymous heroine has the doubtful pleasure of encountering a recently married friend, Madeleine Verelst, at a gathering at the home of Lord and Lady Hemsworth.   As is typical for this book, which is characterised by incisive and bleakly funny observations of…

Images of the Week: “A Hymn to the Moon”

In honour of this week’s supermoon,  we have uncovered some beautiful moonscapes from the British library and the Internet Archive. They are reproduced below alongside Lady Wortley Montague’s (1689-1762) fitting poem “A Hymn to the Moon” from the 1805 collection, Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montague, written during her travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa. A HYMN TO THE…

Insult of the Week: You flaming floundering fool

Please excuse our lack of blogging lately!  We’ve had a remarkable number of back-to-back deadlines in the last couple of weeks, and are currently knee-deep in an exciting new project that’s due out before Christmas.  (I can’t give full details yet, but watch this space!) On a perhaps-not-entirely-unrelated note, our insult this week comes from…

Charlotte Riddell’s Weird Stories

Although the Halloween season on the blog is coming to a close, we couldn’t resist posting one more  19th-century ghost story – this time by Charlotte Riddell. Born in County Antrim in 1832, Charlotte Cowan moved to London with her mother after her father’s death. Much of her early work was published under the pseudonym F.G Trafford and…

A Thrilling Dublin Tale of Shapeless Terror

This week, we’ve decided to reproduce a tale of Dublin haunting from one of the best ghost-story writers of the Victorian era, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873). His tale of terror, An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street was originally published in Volume 42 of the Dublin University Magazine in December 1853. The version here comes from Project Gutenberg’s digitisation…

6 Vintage Halloween Costumes to Frighten and Confound

1. Bat-Woman: The creation of this costume involves some amateur taxidermy but the end result may (or may not) be worth it – just look at that headpiece. 2. Spring-heeled Jack: Impress your friends with a costume inspired by an obscure figure from English folklore and Victorian periodical culture! 3. Little Demon: This is a scaled-down version of…

John William Polidori’s The Vampire

John Polidori’s The Vampyre is often heralded as the first modern vampire story. It was written during the young doctor’s stay in a rented villa near Lake Geneva alongside Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary (Godwin) Shelley and Claire Clarmont in June of 1816, (during the year without a summer). While there, Byron challenged each of his guests to…

Halloween Images Collection: strange and unsettling illustrations

We here on the blog, as you may have noticed, spend a lot of time trawling through the images on Flickr Commons, particularly the massive sets of public-domain book illustrations from the British Library Labs and the Internet Archive.  This is a fairly enjoyable pursuit most of the time, but over the past year we’ve…

Forgotten Fiction Friday: an escape from the guillotine

“Such was the substance of the gruesome tale which was poured into my astonished ears,” added the fair narratress, “a tale indeed all the more gruesome by its verisimilitude and air of truth.” This week’s neglected text comes from the anonymously authored collection The Haunted Manor House, published by Skeffington and Sons in 1896.  I…

Image Selection of the Week: The Countess of Munster’s Ghostly Tales

This week’s image selection is taken from  Ghostly Tales – an 1896 collection by the Countess of Munster, Wilhelmina Fitzclarence. While the eleven supernatural stories vary in terms of quality, they are accompanied by some wonderfully atmospheric illustrations of ghostly visitation. You can view an edition scanned by the British library here.

Your 1920s Guide to Halloween Party Planning

Plan an authentic 1920 Halloween party with the help of Dennison’s Bogie Book! “Why not invite your friends to a Hallowe’en party and join the fun of trying some of the time-honored ways of finding out what the future holds in store?”  Step 1: Decorate your venue with an inordinate amount of crepe paper. Step 2: Entertain…