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…

Forgotten Fiction Friday: Flaxman Low and The Story of the Moor Road

“…I think I may say that I am the first student in this field of inquiry who has had the boldness to break free from the old and conventional methods, and to approach the elucidation of so-called supernatural problems on the lines of natural law.” Psychological detective and supernatural specialist Flaxman Low is the creation…

Visual Tropes Collection of the Week: Witches and brooms

For our first image collection of this Halloween season, we’re going with a classic and iconic figure: the witch, appropriately accessorised with her (or in some cases, his!) broomstick. Let’s see what’s happening in this scene! “Shall we go to Malkin Tower?” asked Mistress Nutter, shuddering. “No; to the summit of Pendle Hill,” rejoined Mother…

Hereditary ghosts: tales from The Night Side of Nature, 1848

  Catherine Crowe (1790-1872) was a noted Victorian author of fiction and folklore, with a strong interest in spiritual matters and the supernatural.  Her 1848 book The Night Side of Nature; Or, Ghosts and Ghost Seers is a massive collection of stories and anecdotes on the subject of ghosts and weird phenomena, and was wildly…

“On Hallow-Mass Eve the Night-Hag will ride”

In Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley  (1814), a book often heralded as one of the first historical novels, Edward Waverley pays a visit to the Baron of Bradwardine at Tully-Veolan. While there, the Baron’s daughter, Rose Bradwardine sings a haunting ballad about “a projecting peak of an impending crag” that had acquired the strange name of ‘Saint Swithin’s Chair.’ Saint…