“Reality or Delusion?”–A Victorian Ghost Story by “Johnny Ludlow” (Mrs. Henry Wood), 1868

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Art by Fred LeBlanc (Pinterest).

Reality or Delusion?

“Johnny Ludlow”, 1868*

Edited by Sanguine Woods, 2018
First appeared in The Argosy (UK) in December 1868**

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People like ghost stories at Christmas, so I’ll tell one. It is every word true. And I don’t mind confessing that for ages afterwards some of us did not care to pass the place alone at night.

We were staying at Crabb Cot. Lena had been ailing during the Autumn, and in October Mrs. Todhetley proposed to the Squire that they should remove her there for a change. Which was done.

The Worcestershire people call North Crabb a village; but one might count the houses in it, little and great, and not find four-and-twenty. South Crabb, half a mile off, is larger; but the church and school are at North Crabb. And I need not have mentioned South Crabb at all, for what there is to tell has nothing to do with it.

John Ferrar had been employed by Squire Todhetley as a kind of over-looker of the estate, or working bailiff. He had died the previous winter; leaving nothing behind him except some debts, for he was not provident, and his handsome son Daniel. Daniel Ferrar disliked work: he used to make a show of helping his father, but it came to little. Old Ferrar had not put him to any trade or particular occupation; and Daniel, who was as proud as Lucifer, would not turn to it himself. He liked to be a gentleman. All he did now was to work in his garden, and feed his fowls, ducks, rabbits, and pigeons, of which he kept a great quantity, selling them to the good houses and sending them to market.

But, as everybody said, poultry would not maintain him. Mrs. Lease, in the pretty cottage hard by, grew tired of saying it. He used to run in and out of there at will since he was a boy, and was now engaged to be married to Maria. She would have a little money, and the Leases were respected in North Crabb. People began to whisper a query as to how Ferrar got his corn for the poultry; he was not known to buy much; and he would have to go out of his house at Christmas, for the owner of it, Mr. Coney, had given him notice. Mrs. Lease, anxious about Maria’s prospects, asked him what he intended to do then, and he answered, “Make his fortune: he should begin to do it as soon as he could turn himself round.” But the time had gone on, and the turning round seemed to be as far off as ever.

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Reblog: Naked As Nature Intended? Victorian Author & Spiritualist, Catherine Crowe in Edinburgh, 1854

You might call it parapsychology’s greatest mystery…

Did Catherine Crowe–the at-the-time sixty-something literary stalwart of the mid-nineteenth century, passionate advocate of the German ghost story, and author of that runaway best-seller The Night Side of Nature (London, 2 vols.: Newby, 1848)–really tear through the streets of Edinburgh toward the end of February 1854, naked but for a handkerchief clutched in one plump hand, and a visiting card in the other? And, if she did, was it because she had experienced a nervous breakdown, or because the spirits had convinced her that, once her clothes were shed, she would become invisible?

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Author & Spiritualist, Catherine Crowe in her only extant image (Public Domain).

Crowe’s name may not ring too many bells today, but a century and a half ago she was famous. Born in 1790, she was noted as a novelist (she wrote Susan Hopley, an intricately plotted crime procedural that was some way ahead of its time) and as a friend of the great and good (she knew Thackeray, Dickens and Charlotte Brontë, among many others). Nowadays, however, she is best remembered as a pioneer parapsychologist–“a hugely important figure in the emergence of modern ghost-seeing culture chiefly because of her relentless calls for society to turn its attention to the unexplained phenomena in its midst and investigate them in an objective manner.” [McCorristine p.10]

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“The Monk’s Story”–A Tale of Gothic Horror by Catherine Crowe, 1850–Includes Author Bio & Links to Resources

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The Monk’s Story

Catherine Crowe, 1850

[First appeared in Light and Darkness: or The Mysteries of Life, in Three Volumes, (1850)]

Edited by Sanguine Woods

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 I

One evening on which a merry Christmas party was assembled in an hospitable country mansion in the north of England, one of the company, a young man named Charles Lisle, called the host aside, as they were standing in the drawing-room before dinner, and whispered, “I say, Graham, I wish you’d put me into a room that has either a bolt or a key.”

“They have all keys, or should have,” returned Mr. Graham.

“The key of my room is lost,” returned the other. “I asked the housemaid. It is always the first thing I look to when I enter a strange bed-chamber. I can’t sleep unless the door is locked.”

“How very odd! I never locked my door in my life,” said Mr. Graham. “I say, Letitia,” continued he, addressing his wife, “here’s Charlie Lisle can’t sleep unless his door’s locked, and the room you’ve put him into has no key.”

At this announcement all the ladies looked with surprise at Charlie Lisle, and all the gentlemen laughed; and “how odd!” and “what a strange fancy!” was echoed among them.

“I daresay you think it very odd, and indeed it must appear rather a lady-like particularity,” responded Lisle, who was a fine active young man, and did not look as if he were much troubled with superfluous fears; “but a circumstance that occurred to me when I was on the continent last summer has given me a nervous horror of sleeping in a room with an unlocked door, and I have never been able to overcome it. This is perhaps owing to my having been ill at the time, and I can scarcely say I have recovered from the effects of that illness yet.”

Naturally, everybody wanted to hear what this adventure was—the programme being certainly exciting—and so one of the visitors offered to exchange rooms with Charlie Lisle, provided he would tell them his story; which accordingly, when assembled round the fire in the evening, he began in the following words:—

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“On Writing the Ghost Story”—An Essay by Jack Cady

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(Pinterest)

On Writing the Ghost Story

Jack Cady

Approach the Cathedral from the south and walk around it three times. On the third time, stop before the second gargoyle from the southwest corner. Spin around seven times very slowly while repeating ‘aroint ye, aroint ye, aroint ye,’ and your warts will disappear.


And, wouldn’t you know, that ancient man followed instructions and his warts dried up. The happy results might have caused him to figure that time and expense going into cathedral construction was money well spent. He probably said as much to his neighbors. Word probably got back to the local priest, and the priest had to deal with it; just as we do, today.

The priest would have said, “Miracle,” or at least, “Blessing.” He would be quick to point out that it was Faith, or the presence of the cathedral that caused disappearing warts. It was not the gargoyle. Or, maybe he would have said something else. After all, it was a long time ago.

Today, we might say “coincidence,” or “the placebo effect.” We might say, “Quaint story, and isn’t it wonderful how even the ancients could spread a certain amount of bull.”

Having said that, we could dismiss the story and turn away. We could, in fact, make the same mistake that many have made since the rise of science and rationality in the 18th century. The mistake is best termed “denial of evidence.” In its way, it is quite as serious as previous mistakes that denied all rationality and/or science. The universe, I fear, is rather more complicated than we might wish.

For that reason (complication) and because unseen matters sometimes compel me, I wish to spend a few moments giving a definition, and making distinctions. There are reasons to write what I call The Fantastic, and they have nothing to do with notoriety, fame, or money.

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A Reblog: Bringing Neglected Classics Back into Print—The Valancourt Classics Catalogue… some great horror & mystery thrillers return from … the grave …

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Young Frankenstein, the Play. Photographer/Actors unknown (Pinterest).

Rise, I say! Rise! Give my creature LIFE!!

I get a little excited, I guess, when publishers bring back awesome books we’ve forgotten about—or never knew about due to their having been published before our time!

Valancourt Books is doing just that, and here is a nice article on the subject with juicy details, from our buds over at Black Gate (an intensely cool website). And check out these revamped covers (below are 8 of them I liked)!

I’ll also include buying info below for those of you who like to build your own horror library.

Hey, life is short; only read the good stuff.

SW🌱

The Article

https://www.blackgate.com/2014/11/27/bringing-neglected-greats-back-into-print-the-horror-catalog-of-valancourt-books/

The Covers

Click in thumbnails to enlarge…

 

 

Where to Buy

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What’s on the Tube? An Urban Supernatural Creeper Starring Nicholas Cage—“Pay the Ghost” Is Based on a Halloween Story by UK Author Tim Lebbon

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Well, the poster sucks. I give the poster a half star! But this is a good film for a cool night with the windows open, and the wind going.

Based on the short story “Pay the Ghost” written by horror author Tim Lebbon (see “About the Short Story”, below) and published in October Dreams*—a Halloween-themed anthology edited by Richard Chizmar and published by Cemetery Dance books in 2000, the film, Pay the Ghost, stars Nicholas Cage in a frightening take on kidnapping, Pagan lore, and witchcraft all with an urban twist that is effective. I was fascinated and even scared here and there. Effects are well done; and even though the plot has been done before in a variety of ways; the supernatural elements work.

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So, now that I’ve seen the film, I’m backtracking and starting the story!

Here are some links to info on the film and to the ebook site—where you can read the original short story for only $.99! Lebbon is a great writer, so check it out!

Entertainment Weekly Review:

http://ew.com/article/2015/08/24/nicolas-cage-poster-pay-the-ghost/

Wiki:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_the_Ghost

About the Short Story

Click here to get “Pay the Ghost”, the story by Tim Lebbon:

*Click here to read about the anthology October Dreams ed. by Richard Chizmar & Robert Moorish:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Dreams

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Listen to a Podcast in which Lebbon discusses the story:

http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/tih-106-tim-lebbon-on-pay-the-ghost-the-silence-and-self-doubt/

Interview with The Story’s Author, Tim Lebbon:

https://www.starburstmagazine.com/features/tim-lebbon-interview

Visit the author’s website, here:

https://www.timlebbon.net/

Below, is the Foreword of the 2018 ebook edition and following that is page one of the story…

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Current Read: 20th-Century Ghosts—A Collection of Award-Winning Ghost Stories by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King!) …

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Stephen King had a son?

Yes. In fact, King had two sons; and a daughter. Both sons, Joe (see below) and Owen (see: https://owen-king.com/ ) are writers. This post is about Joe Hillstrom King (aka. Joe Hill).2F079018-D3A8-4B46-818E-28CAAEAD7174

You’ll recognize the family resemblance in the photo below. But, damn, can Joe Hill write a mean ghost story!

The story goes he published this on his own without any influence from Stephen King which is commendable. So for, what, a decade? Joe Hill wrote on faith that his own talent would garner a name for himself.

And you know what? It did.

Hill is the very successful author of the novels The Heart-Shaped Box (scared the @%#* outta me); Horns (made into a great film starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe); a hauntingly clever take on the vampire novel, N0S4A2 (“Nosferatu”); and The Fireman (also made into a feature film).

I’m starting out with this story: “You Will Hear the Locusts Sing” (above photo), partly because I hate locusts. Then, there’s the Bible plague (yuk); and the Exorcist II where James Earl Jones plays that African prince who commands the dreaded things and the camera is on the little locust back of one of them in some ingenious new film technique as it flies across the continent and oceans as the demon Pazuzu!).

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I’ve also heard a lot of good things about the story out on the grapevine. I’ll circle back and do a review of the collection! Hope you’ll pick up a copy and join me!

To read is to be.

Namaste.

Links

Joe’s Website

https://www.joehillfiction.com/#intro

Reviews

http://strangehorizons.com/non-fiction/reviews/20th-century-ghosts-by-joe-hill/

Interviews & Vids