We are for the dark
October 25, 2012 10:35 AM Subscribe
posted by Iridic (21 comments total)
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wrote some of the best ghost stories of the last fifty years. He also edited one of the finest genre anthology series of his time: The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories
. Between 1964 and 1972, he curated eight volumes of horror fiction without repeating an author, favoring always the subtle, the psychological, the poetic, the rare, the neglected. 59 of his selections can be found online.
(Use of Readability
or one of its clones is advisable for certain of the stories.)
Featured in the first Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories
The Ghost Ship
, by Richard Middleton
"I must admit that the thing I'm going to tell you about was queer even for our part of the world, where three packs of ghost hounds hunt regularly during the season, and the blacksmith's great-grandfather is busy all night shoeing the dead gentlemen's horses."
Squire Toby's Will
, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
"You pass, embowered in melancholy trees, a small and ruinous Saxon chapel, which, time out of mind, has been the burying-place of the family of Marston..."
The Voice in the Night
, by William Hope Hodgson
"It was a dark, starless night. We were becalmed in the Northern Pacific."
The Rocking Horse Winner
, by D.H. Lawrence
"There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck."
, by Algernon Blackwood
"A considerable number of hunting parties were out that year without finding so much as a fresh trail..."
The Crown Derby Plate
, by Marjorie Bowen
"Martha Pym said that she had never seen a ghost and that she would very much like to do so..."
, by Robert Aickman
"On the moors, as early as this, the air no longer clung about her, impeding her movements, absorbing her energies."
The Old Nurse's Story
, by Elizabeth Gaskell
"You know, my dears, that your mother was an orphan, and an only child..."
, by Walter de la Mare
"Seaton, in the hush of confidence, or at any little show of toleration on our part, would remark, "My aunt," or "My old aunt, you know," as if his relative might be a kind of cement to an
Featured in The Second Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories
Playing with Fire
, by Arthur Conan Doyle
"I cannot pretend to say what occurred on the 14th of April last at No. 17, Badderly Gardens."
Man-size in Marble
, by Edith Nesbit
"Although every word of this story is as true as despair, I do not expect people to believe it."
How Love Came to Professor Guildersea
, by Robert Hichens
"Dull people often wondered how it came about that Father Murchison and Professor Frederic Guildea were intimate friends."
The Demon Lover
, by Elizabeth Bowen
"Toward the end of her day in London Mrs. Drover went round to her shut-up house to look for several things she wanted to take away."
, by Max Beerbohm
"It was good to be here again in this little old sleepy hostel by the sea. Hostel, I say, though it spelt itself without an 's' and even placed a circumflex above the 'o.'"
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
, by Edgar Allen Poe
"Of course I shall not pretend to consider it any matter for wonder, that the extraordinary case of M. Valdemar has excited discussion."
Our Distant Cousins
, by Lord Dunsany
"I can show you a man not a mile from here who tells very much taller stories than I do; and they happen to be perfectly true."
The Inner Room,
by Robert Aickman
"I realized later that it was the famous Long Summer of 1921, when the water at the bottom of cottage wells turned to salt, and when eels were found baked and edible in their mud."
, by Perceval Landon
"The journey was just like any other...We slept after luncheon; we dawdled the afternoon away with yellow-backed novels; sometimes we exchanged platitudes in the smoking-room, and it was there that I met Alastair Colvin."
The Damned Thing
, by Ambrose Bierce
"By the light of a tallow candle, which had been placed on one end of a rough table, a man was reading something written in a book."
, by Edith Wharton
is one, of course, but you'll never know it."
Featured in The Third Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories
, by A.J. Alan
"They’ve asked me to tell you about another of my experiences, and I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try and describe to you a dream I often have."
, by E.F. Benson
"The casual tourist in West Cornwall may just possibly have noticed, as he bowled along over the bare high plateau between Penzance and the Land's End, a dilapidated signpost pointing down a steep lane and bearing on its battered finger the faded inscription POLEARN 2 MILES..."
The Case of Mr. Lucraft
, by Walter Besant and James Rice
"I have more than once told the story of the only remarkable thing which ever happened to me in the course of a longish life, but as no one ever believed me, I left off telling it."
The Beckoning Fair One
, by Oliver Onions
"The three or four 'To Let' boards had stood within the low paling as long as the inhabitants of the little triangular 'Square' could remember, and if they had ever been vertical it was a very long time ago."
The Seventh Man
, by Arthur Quiller-Couch
"In a one-roomed hut, high within the Arctic Circle, and only a little south of the eightieth parallel, six men were sitting—much as they had sat, evening after evening, for months."
Featured in The Fourth Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories
The Sphinx Without a Secret
, by Oscar Wilde
"One afternoon I was sitting outside the Café de la Paix, watching the splendour and shabbiness of Parisian life, and wondering over my vermouth at the strange panorama of pride and poverty that was passing before me, when I heard some one call my name."
When I Was Dead
, by Vincent O'Sullivan
"That was the worst of Ravenel Hall. The passages were long and gloomy, the rooms were musty and dull, even the pictures were sombre and their subjects dire."
The Queen of Spades
, by Alexander Pushkin
"At the house of Narumov, a cavalry officer, the long winter night had been passed in gambling."
, by Hugh Walpole
"The second Mrs. Ryder was a young woman not easily frightened, but now she stood in the dusk of the passage leaning back against the wall, her hand on her heart, looking at the grey-faced window beyond which the snow was steadily falling against the lamplight."
A School Story
, by M.R. James
"Two men in a smoking-room were talking of their private-school days. 'At our school,' said A., "we had a ghost's footmark on the staircase. What was it like? Oh, very unconvincing...'"
The Wolves of Cernogratz
, by Saki
"Are there any old legends attached to the castle?"
, by Wilkie Collins
"The Monktons of Wincot Abbey bore a sad character for want of sociability in our county. They never went to other people's houses, and, excepting my father, and a lady and her daughter living near them, never received anybody under their own roof. Proud as they all certainly were, it was not pride, but dread, which kept them thus apart from their neighbors."
Featured in The Fifth Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories
The Library Window
, by Margaret Oliphant
"I was not aware at first of the many discussions which had gone on about that window. "
The Dancing Partner
, by Jerome K. Jerome
"His business was the making of mechanical toys, at which work he had acquired an almost European reputation."
The Mysterious Stranger[PDF]
, by Anonymous
"Boreas, that fearful north-west wind, which in the spring and autumn stirs up the lowest depths of the wild Adriatic, and is then so dangerous to vessels, was howling through the woods, and tossing the branches of the old knotty oaks in the Carpathian Mountains..."
, by Maurice Baring
"John Fletcher was an overworked minor official in a Government office."
, by W.W. Jacobs
"The narrow streets which had been thronged with people were now almost deserted; the cheap-jack from London, with the remnant of breath left him after his evening's exertions, was making feeble attempts to blow out his naphtha lamp, and the last shops open were rapidly closing for the night."
The Great Return
, by Arthur Machen
"There are strange things lost and forgotten in obscure corners of the newspaper."
Featured in The Sixth Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories
, by Théophile Gautier
"For more than three years I remained the victim of a most singular and diabolical illusion."
The Door in the Wall
, by H.G. Wells
"One confidential evening, not three months ago, Lionel Wallace told me this story of the Door in the Wall. And at the time I thought that so far as he was concerned it was a true story."
Priscilla and Emily Lofft
, by George Moore
"A blackbird whistled in the garden when Emily flung the drawing-room door open and gazed into the emptiness of the old faded room, her eyes falling straightaway upon a portrait painted in clear tones of two children sitting on a green bank overshadowed by trees..."
, by Russell Kirk
"In defiance of a faint ancient charm that perfumes its name, Sorworth today is a dirty and dreary little town, fouled by the colliery since the pit was sunk and a blot of hideous industrial workers' houses began to spread around it."
Where their Fire is not Quenched
, by May Sinclair
"There was nobody in the orchard."
A Phantom Lover
(a.k.a. "Oke of Okehurst"), by Vernon Lee
"That sketch up there with the boy's cap? Yes; that's the same woman. I wonder whether you could guess who she was."
Featured in The Seventh Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories
, by Joseph Payne Brennan
"Morgan's Wonder Carnival moved into Riverville for an overnight stand, setting up its tents in the big ball park on the edge of the village."
, by Gerald Bullett
"In the train I amuse myself by summoning up some of those ghosts of the past, a past not distant but sufficiently remote in atmosphere from my present to be invested with a certain sentimental glamour."
The Dead Valley
, by Ralph Adams Cram
"I have a friend, Olof Ehrensvärd, a Swede by birth, who yet, by reason of a strange and melancholy mischance of his early boyhood, has thrown his lot with that of the New World."
The Visit to the Museum
, by Vladimir Nabokov
"Several years ago a friend of mine in Paris—a person with oddities, to put it mildly—learning that I was going to spend two or three days at Montisert, asked me to drop in at the local museum where there hung, he was told, a portrait of his grandfather by Leroy."
, by A.E. Coppard
"Three people were touring through France in a fast motor car..."
Governor Manco and the Soldier
, by Washington Irving
"While Governor Manco, or the "one-armed," kept up a show of military state in the Alhambra, he became nettled at the reproaches continually cast upon his fortress, of being a nestling-place of rogues and smugglers. On a sudden, the old potentate determined to reform, and setting vigorously to work, ejected whole nests of vagabonds out of the fortress and the gypsy caves with which the surrounding hills are honeycombed."
"The Cicerones," by Robert Aickman
(Not available online. But here's an adaptation
starring Mark Gatiss.)
Over an Absinthe Bottle
, by W.C. Morrow
"Arthur Kimberlin, a young man of very high spirit, found himself a total stranger in San Francisco one rainy evening, at a time when his heart was breaking; for his hunger was of that most poignant kind in which physical suffering is forced to the highest point without impairment of the mental functions."
Where the Woodbine Twineth
, by Davis Grubb
"She had countless times reminded the little girl that we must all strive to make ourselves useful in this life and that five years old wasn’t too young to begin to learn."
Featured in The Eighth Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories
The Red Lodge
, by H.R. Wakefield
"I am writing this from an imperative sense of duty, for I consider The Red Lodge is a foul death-trap and utterly unfit to be a human habitation—it has its own proper denizens—and because I know its owner to be an unspeakable blackguard to allow it so to be used for his financial advantage."
, by Alfred Noyes
"It was a battered old book, bound in red buckram. He found it, when he was twelve years old, on an upper shelf in his father’s library; and, against all the rules, he took it to his bedroom to read by candlelight, when the rest of the rambling old Elizabethan house was flooded with darkness."
The Gorgon's Head
, by Gertrude Bacon
"'They that go down to the sea in ships' see strange things, but what they tell is ofttimes stranger still."
The Haunted and the Haunters
, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
"A friend of mine, who is a man of letters and a philosopher, said to me one day, as if between jest and earnest, 'Fancy! since we last met I have discovered a haunted house in the midst of London.'"
, by Ivan Turgenev
"I did not finally decide to make my way home until the evening glow had already died away and chill shadows began to thicken and proliferate in air that was still bright, though no longer illumined by the rays of the sunset."
The Last Séance
, by Agatha Christie
"How should she be well, poor lamb? Seances, seances, and always seances! It is not right - not natural, not what the good God intended for us. For me, I say straight out, it is trafficking with the devil."
And a bonus, to get us to an even sixty: a CBC radio adaptation of Aickman's "Ringing the Changes."