There must be something ghostly in the air of Christmas
December 16, 2014 10:06 PM Subscribe
It was Christmas Eve. I begin this way because it is the proper, orthodox, respectable way to begin, and I have been brought up in a proper, orthodox, respectable way, and taught to always do the proper, orthodox, respectable thing; and the habit clings to me. Of course, as a mere matter of information it is quite unnecessary to mention the date at all. The experienced reader knows it was Christmas Eve ... It always is Christmas Eve, in a ghost story.In Told After Supper (1891), Jerome K. Jerome parodied the tradition of telling Christmas ghost stories, but it's plain to see that he had fun writing them. And horror writer Ramsey Campbell, himself the author of a number of Christmas stories, recently dropped by /r/WeirdLit to list off a few places to find more.
An article by Derek Johnston at the CC-licensed media outlet The Conversation explains a little more about the tradition Jerome had in mind: "Why ghosts haunt England at Christmas but steer clear of America."
The anthology for which Campbell offered a table of contents was Ghosts for Christmas, edited by Richard Dalby, which includes the following stories available online:
- Charles Dickens, 1836, "The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton" (chapter 29 of The Pickwick Papers)
- Mark Lemon, 1866, "The Ghost Detective" (1/3 down the page)
- Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, 1871, "The Dead Sexton"
- Robert Louis Stevenson, 1885, "Markheim"
- Sir James M. Barrie, 1890, "The Ghost of Christmas Eve"
- Louisa Baldwin, 1895, "The Real and the Counterfeit" [Google Books link]
- Mrs. B. M. Croker, 1895, "Number Ninety" (3/4 down the page)
- John Kendrick Bangs, 1894, "Thurlow's Christmas Story" (2/3 down the page)
- Elia W. Peattie, 1898, "Their Dear Little Ghost"
- Grant Allen, 1896, "Wolverden Tower"
- Bernard Capes, 1906, "A Ghost-Child" (3/4 down the page)
- Algernon Blackwood, 1908, "The Kit-Bag"
- E. Nesbit, 1905, "The Shadow" [PDF]
- Elinor Glyn, 1911, "The Irtonwood Ghost" (p. 221)
- E. G. Swain, 1912, "Bone to his Bone"
- Algernon Blackwood, 1913, "Transition"
- M. R. James, 1913, "The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance"
- Marie Corelli, 1913, "The Sculptor's Angel" (p. 211)
- Hugh Walpole, 1929, "The Snow" (4/5 down the page)
- 'Ex-Private X' (A. M. Burrage), 1929, "Smee"
- F. Anstey, 1882, "The Curse of the Catafalques"
- Arthur Machen, 1920, "A New Christmas Carol"
- Frank Stockton, 1900, "The Great Staircase at Landover Hall"
- John Kendrick Bangs, 1891, "The Water Ghost of Harrowby Hall"
- William D. O'Connor, 1856, "The Ghost"
- Leonard Kip, 1878, "The Ghosts at Grantley"
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1843, "The Christmas Banquet"
- Marjorie Bowen, 1933, "The Crown Derby Plate"
- Charles Dickens, 1850, "A Christmas Tree"
- H. P. Lovecraft, 1925, "The Festival"
- Elizabeth Gaskell, 1852, "The Old Nurse's Story"
- Sabine Baring-Gould, 1863, "Glámr"
- H. G. Wells, 1895, "Pollock and the Porroh Man"
Previously: A Christmas Carol; A Christmas Offering; the BBC's A Ghost Story for Christmas; and ghostly Christmases with Casper, the Ghostbusters, and Mr. Magoo.
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