Charlotte Riddell, a popular, prolific and influential writer of the Victorian era, was born and raised in Co. Antrim in the north of Ireland. She was the daughter of the High Sheriff of Antrim and, in 1855, a few years after his death, she moved to London with her mother, an Englishwoman. Within the year, her mother, too, had died.
In 1857, she married a Staffordshire engineer, Joseph Hadley Riddell, and they took up residence in London. Charlotte wrote more than fifty novels and short story collections in her career, and published under her married name, ‘Mrs J.H. Riddell’.
In spite of her husband’s poor business acumen and the consequent financial troubles it brought, they enjoyed a happy marriage until his death in 1881. There were no children from the marriage. After his death, and without any legal obligation, Charlotte determined to pay off his debts, hence ensuring, as income from her books inevitably declined through time, an impecunious existence throughout her later years. Her last years were spent in secluded, genteel poverty, and, shrouded in physical pain, loneliness and depression, she died from cancer in 1906.
The Uninhabited House, published in Routledge’s Christmas Annual for 1875, is a real page-turner that weaves a supernatural-mystery tale around the Victorian fascinations of commerce, inheritance, legal intrigue and romance. It is told with a wry, gentle wit and its central character—the manipulative Miss Blake—is a masterpiece of comic invention and observation.
Widely-recognised as an authority on Egypt and a celebrated archaeologist, Amelia B. Edwards also engaged in journalism and wrote novels, poetry and short fiction throughout her life. She was a regular contributor to Dickens’ All the Year Round.
Born in London in 1831, she spent the early part of her career as a novelist. At the age of thirty, after the death of her parents, she embarked on a life of travel that led her through Europe to Egypt, where she was active in the excavation of the Temple of Rameses II. She wrote several travel guides, the most famous of which is A Thousand Miles up the Nile. She died in 1892 after a severe bout of influenza.
A Night on the Borders of the Black Forest was published in New York in 1890 by the Frederick A. Stokes Company. It was largely ignored by British publishers at the time. The stories in this exquisitely written volume combine the best of the Victorian supernatural tale with the nascent mystery story. Prepare to be thrilled and disturbed in equal measure.
A Night on the Borders of the Black Forest
The Story of Salome
In the Confessional
The Tragedy in the Palazzo Bardello
The Four-Fifteen Express
Sister Johanna’s Story