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…

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…

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…

Nightmares, Ghosts and Ghouls: a spooky October on the blog

Happy 1st of October to all of our readers!  This month, we’ll be digging into the dusty digital vaults of the British Library Labs, in order to bring you some of the finest in obscure and forgotten spooky fiction, folklore, poetry, and pictures.  And believe me, there’s tons to be getting with – the Victorians…