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.
A Night on the Borders of the Black Forest by Amelia B. Edwards.
[This edition published August 2014 – 266 pages]Click to order this book from Amazon UK
Click to order this book from Amazon USA
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
The Stoneground Ghost Tales by E.G. Swain.
[This edition published May 2014 – 148 pages]
The Stoneground Ghost Tales was first published in 1912 by Heffer & Sons of Cambridge. Its author, Edmund Gill Swain (1861-1938), was a cleric, antiquary and colleague of M.R.James. Swain was born in Stockport in Cheshire and was educated at Manchester Grammar School before reading Natural Sciences at Cambridge. After ordination in 1886, he was appointed Chaplain of King’s College, Cambridge, and was one of the privileged few to enjoy the original readings of James’s famous annual Christmas ghost stories.
In 1905, Swain became vicar of Stanground—now a suburb of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire—where he resided until 1916. This erstwhile parish is the thinly-disguised location of “Stoneground”, where all of the tales in this volume are set.
The central character of The Stoneground Ghost Tales is the Rev. Roland Batchel, vicar of Stoneground. He is a gentle, avuncular protagonist who enjoys a slightly wry sense of humour, as befits an erudite, English minister of the cloth. The style and subject matter of his tales is similar to that of James’s own stories. They are mildly unsettling tales, although they lack the malevolence that characterises those of James.
This is the first book we published.
Ralph Adams Cram, born in New Hampshire in 1863, was an eminent American architect who remains more famous for his works in the field of architecture than for his fiction. He wrote many books on architecture, but only a single, slim volume of ghost stories which were collected in the present volume entitled Black Spirits and White, originally published in 1895. Cram was much inspired by the tradition of European folk tales, many of which contain elements of the supernatural, and he brings to this tradition his own distinctly modern American slant.The tales have at their heart a naive hero, usually an American abroad in Europe, who embarks on a most foolhardy adventure in spite of the warnings of the locals – usually with dire and horrific consequences.
Cram is very strong in his depiction of place, setting and atmosphere, and his tales, like his architecture, are firmly in the Gothic tradition.
This collection of six ghost stories is regarded as a classic of nineteenth-century supernatural fiction.
The text has been elegantly set anew in Garamond and this volume is probably the finest example of this work currently available in print.