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Great Ghost Stories/Great Horror Stories
various authors
Chancellor Press (Octopus Publ. Group), 641 pp. and 638 pages

Great Ghost Stories
Great Horror Stories
A review by Georges T. Dodds

These 2002 discount editions are reprints of the 1936 Odhams Press titles The Mammoth Book of Thrillers, Ghosts and Mysteries and The Great Book of Thrillers. Indeed a number of these large horror anthologies were published in the 30s, collecting much of the best British (and some American), horror, mystery and thriller fiction of the late-Victorian and Edwardian eras. Hutchinson, for example, published the massive (1000+ pages) The Evening Standard Book of Strange Stories, A Century of Creepy Stories, and A Century of Ghost Stories. Montague Summers edited his famous The Supernatural Omnibus (1931), Dorothy L. Sayers her Great Short Stories of Detection Mystery and Horror, and John Gawsworth his Creeps series. What can I say, they don't write them like they used to.

These two books, totalling close to 1300 pages, certainly give you your money's worth. A number of tales are from well-known 19th century authors like James Hogg, Sir Walter Scott, Wilkie Collins, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Honoré de Balzac, Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving, etc. Another large group are from the superb British atmospheric horror writers of the early 20th century: E.F. Benson, Algernon Blackwood, Walter De La Mare, W.H. Hodgson, M.R. James, Oliver Onions, L.P. Hartley, etc. Looking down the list of authors gives one a good idea of the quality of the writers presented. Even so, there are some stories by lesser known authors which are also very good. My personal favourite, A.J. Alan's "The Diver," a tale of a haunted diving board at the pool in a men's club, isn't particularly atmospheric or well written, but is interesting for its unique venue and the skeptical character who tells it.

There are tales of Voodoo (W.B.Seabrook's "Goat-cry, Girl-cry"), horror at sea (W.H. Hodgson's "The Voice in the Knight"), detection (R. Austin Freeman's early Dr. Thorndyke tale "The Aluminium Dagger" and Baroness Orczy's The Old Man in the Corner tale "The Fenchurch Street Mystery"), amongst others, with even some told in a humorous tone (H.G. Wells' "The Inexperienced Ghost") -- pretty much something for everyone. So if you enjoy ghost and mystery stories from earlier days, and prefer solid writers who don't have to clobber you over the head with bloodbaths or gross-outs to scare you, pick up these two titles, curl up by the fireplace with a glass of sherry, the dogs, and an assortment of shortbread and sugar cookies -- and some good lighting (you never know what might be lurking) -- and savour these well-aged tales.

Copyright © 2002 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

Author Title Great
A.J. Alan (1883-1941)H2, Etc.
The Diver

AnonymousA Spanish Ghost Story 634
Michael Arlen (1895-1956)The Smell in the Library
The Ghost of Golders Green

W.E. AytounThe Man in the Bell 37
Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)The Mysterious Mansion 43
Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)The Murder of the Mandarin 55
E.F. Benson (1867-1940)The Gardener
The Confession of Charles Linkworth

J.D. Beresford (1873-1947)Powers of the Air 66
Anthony BerkeleyThe Avenging Chance 219
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)Staley Fleming's Hallucination 405
Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951)Keeping his Promise 72
Marjorie BowenThe Folding Doors 57
Gerald BullettDearth's Farm 88
G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)The Hammer of God 101
G.D.H. and M. ColeA Lesson in Crime 235
Wilkie Collins (1824-1889)The Lady of Glenwith Grange 72
Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)The Secret Sharer 117
A.E. CoppardThe Tiger 155
Freeman Wills CroftsMr Pemberton's Commission 247
Catherine Crowe (1800-1876)The Italian's Story 408
Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)The Ghost of Dorothy Dingley 424
Walter De La Mare (1873-1956)Mr. Kempe
The Looking Glass

Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893)The Hostelry 177
Charles Dickens (1812-1870)To Be Taken With a Grain of Salt 432
Lord Dunsany (1878-1957)A Large Diamond 190
Amelia B. Edwards (1831-1892)The Phantom Coach 443
Jeffery FarnolBlack Coffee
The Cupboard

J.S. Fletcher (1863-1935)The New Sun
The Other Sense
Gilbert Frankau (1884-1953)Who Killed Castelvetri? 260
R. Austin Freeman (1862-1943)The Aluminium Dagger 280
John GaltThe Black Ferry  484
Val Gielgud (1900-1981)Hot Water 110
L.P. Hartley (1895-1972)The Island
A Visitor from Down Under

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)Edward Randolph's Portrait 133
O. Henry (1862-1910)Roads of Destiny 236
C.D. HeriotThe Trapdoor 259
W.H. Hodgson (1877-1918)The Voice in the Knight 622
C.F. Hoffman (1806-1884)Ben Blower's Story 270
James Hogg (1770-1835)Mary Burnet 523
Tom Hood (1799-1845)The Shadow of a Shade 279
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)The Dwarfs 293
Washington Irving (1783-1859)The Spectre Bridegroom
Guests from Gibbet Island
W.W. Jacobs (1863-1943)The Three Sisters 544
M.R. James (1862-1936)The Mezzotint 315
Herbert JenkinsThe Gylston Slander 304
Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927)The Dancing Partner 328
Pamela Hansford JohnsonGhost of Honour 228
D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)The Woman who Rode Away 335
Maurice Leblanc (1864-1941)Arsène Lupin in Prison 323
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873)Madam Crowl's Ghost 455
Norman MacLeodThe Doctor's Ghost 553
Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)Honolulu 372
Prosper MériméeThe Blue Room 194
Oliver Onions (1873-1961)Rooum 395
E. Phillips Oppenheim (1866-1946)The café of Terror 206
Baroness Orczy (1865-1947)The Fenchurch Street Mystery 341
Barry Pain (1865-1928)The Green Light 411
Eden Phillpotts (1862-1960)Peacock House 358
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar

J.B Priestley (1894-1984)The Demon King 433
Alexander PushkinThe Queen of Spades 448
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863-1944)The Seventh Man 474
John RhodeThe Vanishing Diamond 389
Saki (1870-1916)Laura 486
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)The Tapestried Chamber 584
W.B. Seabrook (1887-1945)Goat-cry, Girl-cry 491
May Sinclair (-1946)The Mahatma's Story 504
H. De Vere Stacpoole (1865-1951)Deep in the Forest 515
R.L. Stevenson (1850-1894)The Island of Voices 530
H. Russell Wakefield (1888-1965)The Frontier Guards 599
Edgar Wallace (1875-1932)Man of the Night 550
Hugh Walpole (1884-1941)The Tarn
Major Wilbraham

Samuel WarrenThe Resurrectionist 182
H.G. Wells (1866-1946)The Red Room
The Inexperienced Ghost

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)The Sphinx Without a Secret 616

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