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Classic Ghost Stories

Classic Ghost Stories

A weekly podcast which reads out ghost stories, horror stories and weird tales every week. Classic stories from the pens of the masters. Occasionally we feature living authors, but the majority, are dead. Some perhaps are undead.

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The Entrance by Gerald Durrell

The Entrance by Gerald Durrell Gerald Durrell was born in Jamshedpur which was then part of British India, in 1925 and died in St Hellier, Jersey in 1995, aged 70.  This story, The Entrance was published in his collection The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium in 1979. This title was renamed The Picnic and Other Inimitable Stories though I suspect that someone who didn?t understand the word pandemonium would struggle with inimitable too. But that?s marketing for you.  His family?s life has been the subject of a popular TV series ?My Family & Other Animals? taken from the title of one of his books.  He was a prolific writer, usually of light, comic fiction and autobiography and a life-long animal lover who set up the Jersey Zoo.  Those of you who read these notes will probably predict offended comments about animals being hurt in The Entrance and how zoos are bad. My only comments are: it?s fiction. There were no animals, and; attitudes change over times. I don?t think he set up a zoo because he was a wicked man who wanted to hurt animals. Zoos were uncontroversial once. Those who don?t make comments on videos expressing their hurt and offence probably won?t read the notes. Durrell?s famous siblings is the author and poet Lawrence Durrell. In his early years, as his family were middle class and British, he had an Indian nurse called an ayah. He ascribes his lifelong love of animals to a visit to a zoo when he was small in India. The family moved to the Crystal Palace area of London (with its concrete dinosaurs) and he avoided going to school by pretending to be ill. In 1939 the family moved to Corfu, Grreece and Durrell began to build his menagerie. This period of his life was an inspiration of his many books. Because of the Second World War, the family moved back to England and he ended up working in an aquarium and a pet store. He was not medically fit to be a soldier but ended up working on a farm. After the war he went to work at Whipsnade Zoo. After that, he got a job collecting animals for zoos by visiting Africa and South America. He was known for treating his animals well, which caused him financial difficulties . He founded his own zoo in Jersey in 1959. The EntranceThe Entrance was recommended to me by Alison Waddell. It is a frame story and thus hearkens back to the classic ghost story tales which are often told as frames and often feature old, occult manuscripts. Gerald Durrell goes to meet his charming, slightly comic friends in Provence. They hand him a manuscript they found in Marseilles that belonged to a strange man called Dr Le Pitre. Dr Le Pitre is another layer to the story that seems quite unnecessary to me, but I might be missing something. The manuscript dated as March 16th 1901 features a lengthy set up of a Victorian (the old queen died  on 22 January 1901, but her influence lingered a few months at least) antiquarian book dealer (very M R James) who is stalked by a strange foreigner  on a foggy night in London (so far so trope, and I suspect that Durrell was doing this to play with the genre). He gets a mysterious warning from his friend about the family, but becomes great mates with this aristocratic frenchman. Ultimately we see that this was a grift and Durrell drops a few ominous sentences along the lines of ?If I knew then what I know now?. ?That was my gravest mistake? which sort of spoilt the surprise of the twist at the end.  But it?s full Gothic. Alone in an ancient chateau in terrible weather, cut off by snow with a lurking monster in the mirrors. Instead of strange old servitors he has some friendly animals. Again he can?t help himself intruding the comic parrot and friendly cat and dog. The canaries don?t get a speaking part. I wondered how such a monster kept such happy pets?  In fact we have pea soup fog in London, thunder and lightning in Provence and heavy snow in Gorge du Tarn. Classic stuff. I am guessing that young Gideon resisted...
2022-07-29
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The Nameless Offspring by Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith Clark Ashton Smith was an American writer born in Long Valley, California in 1893 who died in Pacific Grove, California in 1961, aged 68.  They are actually four hundred and twenty eight miles apart which is longer than the whole of England.  For comparison I have only made two hundred yards from the place I was born to the place I now live. He lived most of his life in the small town of Auburn, California.  He was madly neurotic, agoraphobic and as with Lovecraft, the existential unease he no doubt felt in life, intrudes into his stories, giving them their unsettling quality, I would guess. Because of his nerves, he was educated at home and was intelligent with a fantastic memory and educated himself by reading, including The Encyclopaedia Britannica all volumes cover to cover more than once. He taught himself French and Spanish and translated poetry from those languages, including Baudelaire?s The Flowers of Evil. Naturally. Clark was a weird poet and one of the now defunct West Coast Romantics. I can see him playing guitar for Mazzy Star (if he?d been spared).  He was one of the ?big three? authors of Weird Tales, the others being Robert E Howard and H P Lovecraft. As a teen (though in those days I wouldn?t have been familiar with that word) I lapped up all three, though I preferred Ashton Smith. There is something more poetic and less rude about his style than either the barbarous, muscle-bound stories of Howard and the off-kilter, prolix and baroque tales of H P.  Though, as I say, I read them all, aye. All. We have done an Ashton Smith story before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSkA3Hq8qIU (The Maker of Gargoyles). This story: The Nameless Offspring is another tomb story. We seem to have done a run of these recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pSp2_ZPOyA (The Catacomb), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC9epxbb-JU (The Secret of The Vault). And previously we did The https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC-kCEb_oTE (Fall of the House of Usher). It was published in Strange Tales in 1932, and in those days publishing in these pulp magazine was the standard process.  Many of the writers of pulps purveyed Cosmic Horror. Of course the primary voice here is H P Lovecraft and his  taste seems to have stamped itself on his followers and his approval, given them a significant advantage. Lovecraft was a great admirer of Ashton Smith. You will recall that to write a classic story in this period: first set it somewhere obscure either in time or distance from your average reader> Make the weather bad. Have a gothic edifice: a castle, though in this case and old (Cornish from the name) Manor House will do. Have an aged retainer, an obscure history that is not fully discussed, an aristocrat, poor light then you just need a monster and you?re on. This tale has it all. And let?s face it what Hollywood producers say (though not to me) ?We want more of the same, but different.?  This is what we have.  Smith is great with descriptions. I prefer his prose to Lovecraft. IT was the fashion to use obscure words and lots of them, but he does it in a less awkward way than Lovecraft and one that is not as open to parody. The story begins with a little background that makes sense of what is to follow along with a warning that he never foresaw the terrible truth, etc. he goes on a trip and inadvertently comes across the evil Tremoth Hall. How likely is that actually? The place receives few visitors in common with nearly every Manor House in all the stories we have read. None of them are open to the National Trust. I read one recently by Sarah Perry (author of Melnoth the Wanderer and the Essex Serpent) in a collection by English Heritage, that had as its scene a historic property open to the public, though the action there happened when the public were not present. The horrible history is not too hidden, but what is well done is the weird scratching that grows and...
2022-07-22
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The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe

The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe The Masque of the Red Death was published in 1842 by Edgar Allan Poe in Graham?s Magazine.  He was paid $12 for it. There is an app on the internet to tell you the value of money today and that calculates $12 in 1842 is worth $482 today.  That is £353 Sterling, or £4,236 Scots.  Good money in anyone?s book for a 16 minute story. It was made into a film in 1964, starring Vincent Price.  As any brief study will tell you, it follows the conventions of Gothic fiction: it?s set in a castle (in fact a castellated abbey so two for the price of one) At the time of the story, Poe?s wife was suffering from tuberculosis and would be coughing blood most likely, and this image may have inspired (if that is a suitable word) the imagery of the story. People have wondered what the actual disease was - bubonic plague or tuberculosis or maybe Ebola virus, but in fact I think it?s most likely he just made it up. There have been many attempts at understanding why there were seven rooms and the meaning of the colours. It may be because he liked the imagery, but of course why did he like the imagery? What subconscious needs and desires do the colours represent. Discuss at your leisure.  The story is about how even kings may not escape death, despite their pride and majesty and as such it reminds me of Oxymandias by Shelley and the Dog In Durer?s Etching story we did  by Marco Denevi. It?s a very neat story structure.  Introduce Red Death, introduce Prospero. He retreats from the world, describe the abbey. Now the Masquerade Ball. Now entry of Death. Now he?s dead. Finish. 16 minutes. What?s with the Ebony Clock? Perhaps counting down like a drum roll to increase suspense? Who knows? If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a  free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)
2022-07-15
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The Eye of The Cat by Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond Ruskin Bond was born in 1934 in Kasauli in Punjab, India. His first novel was published when he was 22, A Room on the Roof and it won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. He specialised in short stories of which he wrote more than five hundred. He lives in Mussoorie.  Bond was born when India was part of the British Empire.. His father taught English to the Indian princesses of the Indian princely state of Nawanagar and bond lived with his family at the palace when he was a boy.  At the beginning of the Second World War, his father Aubrey Alexander Bond joined the Royal Air Force. When Ruskin was only eight his father left his mother Edith Clarke and married an Indian, Hindu woman called Hari. (In the story, which has lots of autobiographical details, he says it was his mother who married an Indian man after his father died). His father arranged for him to come to New Delhi where he was posted and Ruskin was happy there and describes his childhood as magical. But his father died during the War when Ruskin was only 10. He went to an English style boarding school in Shimla and won a number of writing prizes when he was there. After finishing at Shimla he went to the Channel Islands (close to the French Coast but a possession of the English Crown) because his aunt lived there. He then went to London and worked in a photo studio. When his first novel was a success he used the money to pay his fare back to India. He worked as a writer there and has been a writer ever since. Despite his British ancestry he feels India. He has said about being Indian that race did not make him one, religion did not make him one, but history did.  Most of his works deal with small town India, particularly the hill stations where he grew up. He has described small town India as his India.  If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patronhttps://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a  free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***) Most of Ruskin?s stories aren?t ghost stories though he admits a fondness for the work of Lafcadio Haearn, an Irish writer who settled in Japan via the USA and specialised in ghost stories with a Japanese background.  
2022-07-08
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A Night on the Borders of the Black Forest by Amelia B Edwards

Amelia B Edwards Born in 1831 in London and died in 1892 aged 60 in Weston Supermare at the seaside near Bristol. She was a novelist, traveller and enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist. Her mother was Irish and her father had been an officer in the British Army and then became a banker.  She was married, but her emotional attachments were with women and she lived with and was apparently in love with Ellen Braysher, widow, and Ellen Byrne a school inspector?s wife. A Night on The Borders of the Black Forest was recommended by Nadia Astorga in May 2022 This is the third story by Amelia B we?ve done, the other?s being The Phantom Coach and Salome. This is the first of hers that is less a ghost story (if fact not a ghost story at all) and more an adventure.  The collection of stories is also entitled A Night On The Borders of the Black Forests and was published in 1890. For comparison Le Fanu?s Carmilla set in Styria in Austria was published in 1872 and Stoker?s Dracula was published in 1897. Elizabeth Gaskell?s The Grey Woman was published in 1861. It reminded me most of The Grey Woman because it is set in the border area of France and Germany at about the same period and there are brigands in the woods in both. It?s a definite nod to the Gothic but also a right rollicking adventure story and so reminds of The Grey Woman but also the Scottish set  A Journey of Little Profit by John Buchan from 1896, because it is also a tale of wanderings on foot and George Borrow?s Wild Wales was published in 1862, which deals with supposedly true wanderings in the Wild. Mary Braddon?s The Cold Embrace and Hoffman?s The Sandman also have people tramping all over Germany and venturing into France and the Netherlands. It must have been busy on the roads.  Wordsworth had an edition of the Prelude out in 1850. This thrilling love for mountainous wild places titillated the middle class urban readers on a trivial level while Wordsworth was aiming for the spiritual, but each to their own indeed. The story structure: Neat. Enjoying the milieu as much as anything. The tramping over the countryside. On his own, meets up with Gustav, on to the village, the coach trip, wandering at night, the inn, suspicions mount.  The innkeeper won?t drink the wine. It tastes bad. It smells funny as does the coffee. Burned! Why not set the dogs on them? Why not just poison them dead rather than drug them with a soporific?  I think that?s a plot hole. And if they don?t sell the stuff they steal (it?s in the granary) what?s the point of murdering strangers? But a good read and nicely written, easy to narrate. A sprinkling of German terms for colour. Gustav shows too much interest in the slow-witted peasant girl Annchen for my liking. After all, he?s got a madchen at home.  She won?t drink the wine either. The beer seems fine though. The landlord checks how much Gustav as drunk.  If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a  free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)
2022-07-01
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The Catacomb by Peter Shilston

The Catacomb by Peter Shilston was recommended by one of my Patreons but it was hard to get hold of. It was published in the early 1980s in a fanzine for lovers of M R James's stories who wrote stories in a similar vein. This home-produced magazine was called More Ghosts and Scholars and is very hard to get hold of. Then it was reprinted in Best of Ghosts and Scholars and Best Horror Volume 9 edited by Karl Wagner. These are collectors items and expensive so I despaired of getting hold of the story but wanted to because it was so highly recommended. Eventually I bit the bullet and shelled out (see what I did there?) for More Ghosts & Scholars on Ebay. It arrived. I read it. I hope you like it. It is followed by my thoughts about the story which in now typical fashion degenerates into random related thoughts. I hope you enjoy my rendition. You could consider supporting my efforts by buying me a coffee one off or signing up as a Patreon. This latter includes members only readings and early access to regular podcast episodes. If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You can become a Patreon of the show for exclusive members? only stories: https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And if you want to thank me (think of a busker?s hat) then you can get me a coffee via http://www.ko-fi.com/tonywalker (www.ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Join my mailing list and get a download: https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback (https://bit.ly/somecomeback) ????????
2022-06-24
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The Middle Toe of the Right Foot by Ambrose Bierce

The Middle Toe of the Right Foot by Ambrose Bierce is a ghost story set in the late 19th Century in the American south-west. A tightly crafted tale with at least three twists, even though it's short. Thanks to 23Split23 for recommending it, and Dewayne Hayes for recommending Bierce in general. Amazed it's only the second Bierce story I've done. Well worth it though. If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a  free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)
2022-06-17
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Mean Mr Mullins by Cathu Sahu

Mean Mr Mullins by Cathu Sahu is an original story by a living author: Cathy Sahu. A tale of a nasty man set in small-town America (at least I think it's small town, maybe suburban). For the post-story discussion, I read out notes sent in by Cathu and ramble a bit on the general themes. Cathy Sahu's book Ghosts & Other Unpleasantries can be found https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghosts-Other-Unpleasantries-C-S-Sahu/dp/0997578505/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?crid=1AVFQU3Z2PLKC&keywords=cathy+sahu+ghosts&qid=1653129438&sprefix=cathy+sahu+ghosts%2Caps%2C81&sr=8-2-fkmr0 (here) This is Amazon UK link, but you should be able to hop to Amazon USA and all the other Amazons from it. If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a  free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)
2022-06-10
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The Secret of the Vault by J Wesley Rosenquest

The Secret Of The Vault by J Wesley Rosenquest Recommended by Mary Ware in August 2021. Published in Weird Tales, May 1938 J WESLEY ROSENQUEST or Rosenquest was an American Sci-fi writer.  That's all we know about him. Unless you have a lead? If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a  free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)
2022-06-03
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The Call of Cthulhu by H P Lovecraft

The Call of Cthulhu by H P Lovecraft was commissioned by Gavin Critchley for me to read for all of you. Thanks to Gavin! The foundation story of Cosmic Horror and the Cthulhu Mythos. Get a cup of tea, sit comfortably and be prepared to go insane at the revelation of monstrous fate that awaits us all. ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You can become a Patreon of the show for exclusive members? only stories: https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And if you want to thank me (think of a busker?s hat) then you can get me a coffee via http://www.ko-fi.com/tonywalker (www.ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Join my mailing list and get a download: https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback (https://bit.ly/somecomeback)
2022-05-27
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They Bite by Anthony Boucher

Anthony Boucher Anthony Boucher known as was the pen name of William Anthony Parker White and he was known at Tony. He was born in 1911 in Oakland California and died aged only 56 in Oakland of lung cancer. I guess he liked it there.   He graduated from Pasadena High in 1928 and went to the University of Southern California and did his masters at University of California, Berkely. Boucher is to rhyme with Voucher rather than the French bouche.  Boucher was close to his grandfather who had been a steel worker in Glasgow and got free passage to America after signing up to fight in the Civil War. He couldn?t have afforded the passage otherwise. It?s said that the grandfather who made a big impression on Boucher was a rake and a rogue.  He was a sickly child with asthma and other illnesses and this made him a voracious reader and later writer.  Boucher was a professional writer of fiction who wrote mystery novels, short stories, science fiction and radio dramas. His story Nine Times Nine was voted the best locked room master of all time. He edited anthologies of science fiction and was a translator from Spanish, being the first to translate Jorge Luis Borges (I must do one of his stories).  Boucher founded the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and edited it from 1949 to 1958.  He was a friend and mentor of Philip K. Dick. In addition to other things he was a keen poker player, a sports fan and a big fan of Sherlock Holmes. He collected records of early operatic singers. Apparently he was a friend of the occultist Jack Parsons who also lived in Pasadena His first story was published in 1927 in Weird Tales when he was 15. It was entitled ?Ye Good Olde Ghost Storie?.  They Bite This story was suggested by many many people. I watched a couple of videos on how to do Western accents, but I think I have not succeeded very well and hope that doesn?t detract from the story. This is a classic folk horror story albeit set in the American West, though it references Sweeny Bean a Gaelic cannibal from Galloway.  Boucher?s grandfather was from Scotland. The story is similar to Samantha Hick?s story: Back Along The Old Track, though I don?t think Sam?s story was consciously modelled on this. The similarity is in the trope. Also similar is Lovecraft?s Dreams In The Witch House.  It isn?t clear to me why Tallant is climbing the rocks all day or has come here at all. He makes notes of what he sees of the glider training school. Perhaps he is going to sell what he sees to the highest bidder ? some sort of freelance spy. Some of the characters I don?t get. The old man who warns Tallant and whose dog is killed by the Carker. The young man with the beard who is a stranger, the Flight Sergeant on the pinball machine and the construction worker being fleeced at poker. I don?t get those, apart from Boucher?s real life love of poker. He only needs one Warner and the bartender really.  He is planning blackmail but I don?t get how the Carker story will help that.  I wasn?t surprised when he killed Morgan. I think the dream of him being a superman king narcissist type let me know he was not a bloody good bloke. But it is Morgan?s murder that leads to Tallant?s doom. It is his fiendish plan to attribute Morgan?s death the the Carkers that leads him inside their tumble down adobe.     It has an unreliable narrator. Remember Boucher was a mystery writer and the unreliable narrator became a staple after Agatha Christie. There is no hint that Tallant is a blackmailer. In a sense he is like the Crakers who have come to Oasis opportunistically in search of prey ? as has Morgan, a fellow blackmailer. There is a hint to Tallant?s shady past at the beginning, but no detail given so that when the twist comes it is satisfying. The end is a moral tale of the biter bit. We like stories that reinforces our ideas of good and bad and that bad needs go punished. The things themselves...
2022-05-20
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The Crown Derby Plate by Marjorie Bowen

The Crown Derby Plate by Marjorie Bowen is a classic ghost story and much requested. It has a ghost, a remote haunted house, windswept Essex marshes, a set of china and a naive and rather pushy heroine. A fun story that I enjoyed reading out. If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here A good was is to to spread the word about the podcast! You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a  free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)
2022-05-13
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How Fear Departed The Long Gallery by E F Benson

E F Benson Edward Frederic Benson was born in 1867 at Wellington College, where his father was headmaster,  in Berkshire just outside London and died at University College London at the age of 72. His father went on to be Bishop of Truro, and Cornwall features in both his and his brothers? stories, and then Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest ranking of the Anglican Church.  He was the fifth child. His illustrious brother A C Benson wrote the words to Land of Hope and Glory, a patriotic English song and some fine ghost stories, although probably not as good as EF?s. His other brother also wrote ghost stories but he was a committed Catholic and RH Benson?s stories often contain religious lessons rather than being merely fun. His sister Margaret was an amateur Egyptologist and author. Two other siblings died young. E F Benson was educated at Marlborough College and then went to King?s College Cambridge.  His first book was Sketches from Marlborough and he was most famous in his lifetime for the Mapp and Lucia comic novel series. Arguably however his ghost stories are his greatest legacy.  Some of these including this one How Fear Departed The Long Gallery have comic elements, particularly the kind of humour that observes and gently satirises the social class he moved in ? otherwise known as the idle rich. A status I aspire to myself, and with your help will one day reach. How Fear Departed The Long Gallery The story starts with a rather comic picture of a genteel English county family who live in a long occupied ancestral house full of quirky ghosts. Then after the comedy we are told about the scary ghosts: the murdered children, murdered quite horribly by Dirty Dick.  It was one of those murders like Richard III, motivated by a desire to wipe out the line and inherit I think the scariness of children is if I may say like that of a doll. It?s the uncanny valley. They are both like and unlike adults. They look like us, but we cannot be sure they think like us or what they will do. Who is hiding behind the eyes of the child. Anne Rice does this with her child vampire Claudia and there was a child vampire in Skyrim too. Just saying. The servant who first sees the toddlers dies. Then Miss Canning, the great beauty and friend of Voltaire mocks th twins and gets a horrible lichen disease. E F wrote a few horror stories that feature diseases, notably Caterpillars. Colonel Blantyre shot at the poor ghosts. Miss Canning told them to get back into the fire.   When Madge wakes in the Long gallery after dark and gets lost in the furniture and disorientated that?s like the Blind. Man?s Buff story we did. Lighten Our Darkness indeed, and figuratively by mercy.  So it?s a story about redemption If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a  free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)
2022-05-06
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The Hounds of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long

The Hounds of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long Frank Belknap  Long was born in 1901 in Harlem, New York (not the Netherlands) and died in 1992 aged 92 in Manhattan. He was a horror and science fiction writer and is most famous for his contribution to the stories of the Cthulhu Mythos. The Cthulhu Mythos begins with H P Lovecraft, but many other authors have contributed towards the corpus of stories that the faithful call ?The Canon?.   It was his 1921 story The Eye Above The Mantel that caught Lovecraft?s eye. That story was a pastiche of Edgar Allan Poe and I have elsewhere commented on that histrionic overblown prose that contains many screaming crazy dudes and occult blasphemous horrors which is found first and best in Poe, then Lovecraft and here in this lovely story. Frank and Howard maintained a long correspondence. Lovecraft was famous for his lengthy and multiple pen friendships as he sat shut up and nervous in his room. He became a mentor to Frank.  Frank contributed to the pulp magazines The Hounds of TindalosChalmers. Prefers illuminated manuscripts to adding machines and leering stone gargoyles to automobiles. Who doesn?t?  He has a long nose and slightly receding chin. His bookcase has medieval pamphlets about sorcery, witchcraft and black magic (surely triple tautology)  but again, what?s not normal in any of this? Although I think that Frank is setting it up for the norms so they get the idea that Chalmers is a bit weird.  He has the same name as the Australian Philosopher David Chalmers who famously came up with the term ?the hard problem? to describe how in a materialist way of thinking, matter can give rise to subjective experience. It?s as hard a problem as how cows make lollipops. We simply can?t figure either of them out. So, Frank is using ?modern science? in the guise of Einstein to undermine the self-confident materialists, particularly regarding time. He throws this is in like spice. He lets us know that Einstein is relative: we each have our own versions.   Our interlocutor is our avatar. Think how hard it would be to write a story with one character? You need two to bring out the exposition. Anyway, on we go, getting more and more theatrical with each sentence.  But this idea about curves and angles seems original and it is quite weird. Like Lovecraft?s Colour Out of Space, an abstract idea like a colour or an angle can be jarringly weird. Weird is all about juxtapositions that should not be, and taking things out of context because they are juxtaposed with other, odd contents. It sort of reminded me of H G Wells? The Time Machine particularly the 1950s film version.  The Hounds of Tindalos was the first Cthulhu story written by anyone else than Lovecraft and we have references to Dholes and the Elder Races. Other than that, there is no clear connection, unless a Mythos buff can correct me. The Hounds of Tindalos are not actual dogs in this story. Other Mythos writers like Ramsey Campbell, Lin Carter, Brian Lumley and Peter Cannon reference the Hounds.  The the name Tindalos sounds Greek and there are references ?The Greeks had a name for them, ? I don?t think Tindalos means anything. The name Halpin is one I have only come across before in the work of Ambrose Bierce The Death of Halpin Frayser . Perhaps it is a common name in America, but I?ve heard in speech here.  20lb of plaster of Paris seems a lot. Despite the plaster of Paris smoothing out the corners of the room (I should have liked to have seen that), the Hounds find a way in by causing an earthquake which causes the plaster to fall and thus angles are created? A hopeless maniac. I could tell you about those.    With the later excerpts from the news and the story of his neighbour who?d gone to let his cat in, I wondered if there wasn?t humour here?  The superintendent on finding the body walks to the open window and stares for five minutes
2022-04-29
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The Sandman by E T A Hoffman

Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffman E T A Hoffman, as he is known, was born in 1776 in Konigsberg, East Prussia, Germany and died in Berlin, Germany of syphilis, which was extremely prevalent. He was only 46.   He was a romantic author of fantasy and Gothic horror as well as being a composer, music critic and artist. He wrote the Nutcracker and the Mouse King which was the basis of Tchaikovsky?s ballet The Nutcracker and Offenbach?s opera The Tales of Hoffman is based on E T A Hoffman?s works. His parents separated when he was 12. He remained with his mother and aunts. He was very fond of his aunts.  He started work in 1796 for his uncle as a clerk. He visited Dresden and was impressed by the paintings in the gallery there.  He lived and worked for his uncle in Berlin from 1798. From 1800 he lived and worked away from home and took to a dissolute lifestyle. He was promoted and got a job in Warsaw in 1804. He was happy in Warsaw, but went back to Berlin which was occupied by Napoleon?s armies. In 1808 he got a job in Bamburg as a theatre manager.  He was given to falling in love, once with a young music student Julia Marc and another time with a married woman 10 years old who had six children.  He also appears to had challenges with alcohol most of his adult life.  The Sandman The Sandman is Hoffman?s best loved and most influential story. It was a favourite of Sigmund Freud and we might see some influence of this story on Tim Burton?s films.  M. Grant Kellermeyer on his great ghost story site says that the Sandman exists to sow suffering and everything he touches. Coppelius as the Sandman wants to throw hot coals and sparks into the eyes, not the soporific sand. The story begins with a series of letters. This was a common convention and later Hoffman steps in as the author and discusses different ways he had thought of beginning the story. One can?t help think that he was amusing himself with this story as he seems to be satirising certain classes of people, notably Romantics.  The Romantic Movement grew up towards the end of the 18th Century and lasted into the 19th Century, dated to end at the crowning of Queen Victoria in England in 1837. I think the first letter from Nathanael setting out his horrified fantasies about the Sandman Coppelius is to establish him as a credulous and impressionable boy given to neurotic terrors. He seems incapable of distinguishing truth from his fantasies and believes his inward passions rather than objective facts. Again, I think Hoffman is poking fun at Romanticism. There is some theme of eyes. Coppelius seems to want to steal Nathanael?s eyes, and eyes and optics crop up again and again. When Coppelius and Nathanael?s father are working as alchemists, they seem to be building automata.  Clara?s letter establishes her (a woman) as level headed and logical and not given to fancies. They are at odds in this and I feel that Hoffman is making fun of the brooding romantics who believed that nature should lead over thinking.  Clara is endlessly forgiving and devoted to Nathanael despite him not really deserving it as he is moody and unfaithful with a robot and then tries to kill her. In the end, we hear that she has found someone more worthwhile to love and have children with. Amusingly, when Clara doesn?t love his gloomy poem he calls her a lifeless automaton. The story is filled with little jokes like this. Nathanael does not believe in free will. Clara does. Nathanael believes that we are controlled by mighty powers greater than ourselves. Clara denies this and says we are fooled by our own fancies if we think this. Ironically, that is what kills Nathanael and drives him mad. Some translations use Oh! Oh! Oh! for Olympia?s words, but the translation I used uses the original German Ach! Ach! Ach! If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In HereYou could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker)...
2022-04-22
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Out of the Deep by Walter de la Mare

Walter de la Mare Walter de la Mare is most famous as a poet. He was born in 1873 in Charlton in south-east London not far from Greenwich. It was then part of the county of Kent but has now been gobbled up by Greater London.  He was offered a knighthood twice but declined. De La Mare died in 1956, aged 83, in Middlesex.   He had a heart attach in 1947 and was left unwell until his death of another in 1956. He was highly regarded as a poet and  T. S. Eliot wrote a poem for his funeral service. His ashes are buried in the crypt of St Paul?s Cathedral.  His writings were a favourite reading matter of H P Lovecraft and admired by Robert Aickman and Ramsey Campbell. His family were originally French, from the Protestant Huguenots who fled persecution by the Catholic King of France. His ancestors had been silk merchants, but his father was a banker and his mother was the daughter of a Scottish naval surgeon. He disliked the name Walter and his friends called him Jack. When he was 17, he went to work for Standard Oil in the statistics department, but he was already writing and his first volume of work was published when he was twenty-nine. He married his wife, who was impoverished after meeting her the amateur dramatic society of which they were both members. They lived in Anerley, where I once lived, a rather nondescript part of South London next to the more famous Crystal Palace. They were apparently great entertainers and hosted many parties. Most of the fiction he wrote was supernatural fiction. His style is elegant but his sentences are complex with lots of sub-clauses making him nearly has hard to read out as Henry James. This is a story written to be read rather than read out, I think. Out of The Deep The story unfolds slowly. Jimmie, an orphan boy has not been ill-treated by his uncle and aunt from what we hear, but he disliked their characters and was tormented by their butler Soames. It appears, though were are not told, that after he became a man, he left them and the hated house where he had been so unhappy and was reluctant to go back even after he inherited the house.  As well as the physical torment of his time in the attic he had memories of things coming out of the wardrobe and the crab patterned paper that came alive. (Like the Yellow Wallpaper). He seems to have hated everything about his boyhood, including going to church, fatty meat and the ugly old-age of his relatives.  We learn from his aunt that he?s always suffered from anxiety and is timid. There is some tension between him wanting to be good little boy and feeling he never quite managed it. Although in his adulthood, he doesn?t seem to do much that?s bad. He seems to do his best. But he never rises above the pointless misery of the house. It?s all miserable and suffuses the story. He lies awake thinking like a fountain. He has little human company and appears to have cut off what friends he had before moving into the house as he if knew he was preparing for his death. He has his charwoman Mr Thripps who considers the house unpleasant and doesn?t want to sleep a night there for a plate of sovereigns, even though she would out of duty to Jimmie. I warmed to Mrs Thripps and though Victorian and Edwardian writers mostly portray the working-classes as idiots, thugs and criminals, there is a warmness to Mrs Thripps that makes her more likeable than Jimmie, though Jimmie does nothing to offend us really. I don?t know whether De La Mare intended that. Jimmie uses his witty speech to deflect from the deep despair and unhappiness in him.  He is quite nice to the tradespeople he meets and gives the impression of wanting to be cheerful and good to make up for ht misery of his beginnings.  But ultimately it is a misery he can?t escape. Sadly, the tale reminded me of the stories of many of the patients I encounter who have a childhood of abuse they struggle to overcome and struggle to achieve any real...
2022-04-15
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The Music of Erich Zann by H P Lovecraft

The Music of Erich Zann by H P Lovecraft. I recorded it ages ago and I can't believe I never posted this before!
2022-04-08
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Thirteen At Table by Lord Dunsany

Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany Edward John Moreton Draw Plunkett, or Lord Dunsany was known to his friends as Eddie. Lord Dunsany was born in 1878 in London England and died in 1957 in Dublin Ireland.   Though born in England, he was heir to the oldest inhabited house in Ireland: Dunsany Castle near Tara. In County Meath. He worked to support the Abbey Theatre in Dublin with W B Yeats and Lady Gregory. In addition he was chess and pistol champion of Ireland. He was also a great traveller and, as you can tell from this story: he was a habitual hunter with horse and hounds. He was a prolific writer produced over ninety volumes of fiction, essays, poems and plays. His most famous book is possibly The King of Elfland?s Daughter and he is thought to be the first fantasy writer who set out the later genre that produced the Narnia books and The Lord of the Rings and ultimately Game of Thrones.  Thirteen At Table This story was suggested by Mike Jenkins. We have a beautiful description of the Kent countryside on a spring evening as they follow the fox. This is indeed a fox hunt and may not be to everyone?s taste but is part of the story. I like the idea that a gentleman at hounds may request a bed from any other gentleman who has a gentleman?s house. It?s s simple tale thereafter. We have host, Sir Richard Arlen, who says he has lived a wicked life. What he has done to this succession of women that means he has to dine with them every night for the past fifty years is not explained. But we understand he has wronged them and we guess perhaps he was somewhat of a rake. As the dinner goes on. It is explained that Mr Linton drinks a lot as he is dehydrated. He is also tired. He starts off by humouring the guest and then takes to his story of his wonderful twenty point hunt. The best hunt that ever was and a tale that grows in the telling. I am thinking this is a good humoured dig at huntsmen and their stories.  And as he feels the need for an audience to tell his tale, slowly the ghosts become visible to Mr Linton and he begins to treat them as real people rather than as figments of his imagination. It is so slowly and delicately done that it is very effective and smooth.  In the end he offends the ghosts by something he said. They are clearly very sensitive and collect slights. He is mortified, but the host is supremely grateful.  There is a happy ending in that Sir Richard Arlen It?s a humorous and pretty story. I haven?t read much Dunsany, but I?m keen to read more now. If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)
2022-04-01
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The Crowd by Ray Bradbury

A man in a car crash starts wondering how come the crowds gather so fast, and then he wonders why they all look so familiar. He researches the answer and is about to go to the police... A short weird tale by the prolific master of the weird tale, Ray Bradbury If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You can become a Patreon of the show for exclusive members? only stories: https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And if you want to thank me (think of a busker?s hat) then you can get me a coffee via http://www.ko-fi.com/tonywalker (www.ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Join my mailing list and get a download: https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback (https://bit.ly/somecomeback)
2022-03-25
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SO311. The Man Whom The Trees Loved by Algernon Blackwood

A tale of the New Forest in England where Mr and Mrs Bittacy settle after years abroad. A painter with a certain talent for painting trees awakens something in the old man and he takes to wandering deep in the forest. Mrs Bittacy with her strong, Christian values is appalled by the ancient woodland spirits that her husbands seems to seek out. She loves him and wants to protect him from the ancient force of the forest. But will her love and faith be enough? Algernon Blackwood was a man of many talents and is known still for his disturbing ghost and horror stories. The Man Whom The Trees Loved is one of his classics. If you'd like to support my ongoing work and make free audiobooks like this possible, consider a one off donation via www.ko-fi/tonywalker Or become a Patreon for ongoing support and members only stories. https://www.patreon.com/barcud
2022-03-18
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S03010 The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapters 16-20

The Picture of Dorian Gray is now done. Hooray. That's it done. The commentary at the end is slightly nutty because I was tired and slightly manic. Make sure to listen to the very end.
2022-03-11
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S0309 The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapters 13-15

The Picture of Dorian Gray. Here's the latest. For those of you who are loving it, I hope you continue to enjoy this episode. For those of you who aren't into it so much, don't worry, it will soon be over.
2022-03-04
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S0308 The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapters 10-12

The Picture of Dorian Gray. I have had one of those Mandela Effect mind blips. I have thought and continued to write" A Portrait of Dorian Gray when it was published in 1880 as A Picture of Dorian Gray. In this Dorian goes to the bad. He will get worse, and this is just the beginning
2022-02-25
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S0307 The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Chapters 7-9

The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian is rather unpleasant and comes home to see his portrait knows what he's done. More wit and malice from Oscar Wilde
2022-02-18
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S0306 The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Chapters 4-6

Here's another hour of Dorian Gray in which Dorian is very excited, Lord Harry is languid, Basil the Painter disapproves, Sibyl Vane is ecstatic, her mother ashamed and her brother cross. Get a pencil and paper. You will want to write down some of Lord Harry's wisdom to deploy yourself when you're speaking to your neighbours.
2022-02-11
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S0305 The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (Chapters 1-3)

The beautiful story of a beautiful man living a beautiful life that starts in a beautiful garden and ends this week at a rather splendid lunch with a duchess and a few lesser nobles not giving a fig for the lower orders but enjoying themselves immensely. Beautifully witty and beautifully camp. I hope you enjoy it. This is the first part of Oscar Wilde's famous novel. It has chapters 1-3. Nuff said.
2022-02-04
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S0304 Beyond The Door by J. Paul Suter

Beyond the Door is a story of a haunting. A man is haunted by visions of something coming out of the well in his cellar and by the scratching sounds in the passages of his old house. If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In here you could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Beyond The Door by J. Paul Suter This story was recommended by Terry Illikainen and this version was from Weird Tales volume 01 number 02, 1923-4. Jospeh Paul Suter wrote pulp tales during the early to middle part of the 20th Century for the magazines that specialised in genre fiction. He wrote mystery, detective, and supernatural stories. He was prolific and had more than two hundred stories published in these magazine. He was an American author born in 1884 who died in 1970. And that?s about all I can find about him. Beyond the Door It seems to me that Beyond The Door is one of those stories that leaves it up in the air whether the narrator is insane or haunted. In this it is like The Yellow Wallpaper or The Horla or The Beckoning Fair One. It?s a common sub-type of the ghost story genre.  My feeling is that this eccentric driven, bookish man who is focused on his interests in the scientific study of insects cannot tolerate deviation from his routine. He sees the love interest of his Australian lady as a threat to his work, and the anxiety thus provoked drives him to hill her and throw her down the well. If I was meeting him today, I would probably think he had Asperger?s Syndrome and that he couldn?t remember his murder due to dissociation.  Clues to the fact it?s a murder not a haunting are that he keeps having visions of a dog and he comments how she nuzzled his hand like a dog. No one else sees or hears anything supernatural, though the freaky house decorated with bugs dose unsettle them. The body is bruised again supporting the coroner?s theory that the stone slab of the well came down on him when his guilt just wouldn?t let him leave the crime scene alone.  The coroner?s theory that the slab somehow paralysed him is a nasty end for anyone. Apparently the stone caused an injury that left him paralysed for two days, head down the well and thus he died. He screamed, but no one heard. Suter wrote a whole bunch of crime thrillers, so perhaps he preferred a criminal to a supernatural explanation in this story too. Although listening it again, it seems that the girl killed herself, but then entomologist blamed himself for her death because he had refused to marry her. I don?t think it?s his fault. He apparently covers her up with dirt at the bottom of the well. Out of guilt? The coroner talks about people rarely being punished accurately for his sins, though the entomologist was. I still think it?s a lot to blame him for her suicide.  Ghosts however are often the agents or retribution and the paying out of sins. So even if this is a ghost that only appears mentally, it still has the same role. Not supernatural retribution but some psychological expression of karma.  As well as the pulp genre, this story reminds me strongly of Edgar Allan Poe, particularly The Tell-Tale Heart, where the subconscious pressure of a crime won?t let the criminal rest until a confession comes out. It is told as is very common in older stories through a frame: we don?t hear the protagonist themselves, but have the story related through a witness or documents. This is much less fashionable these days: I don?t think Steven King or Neil Gaiman for example use this structure, but it was very common in older stories and lots we?ve read on The Classic Ghost S tories Podcast follow this pattern: The Turn of The Screw. H G Well?s The Door In The Wall.  The young narrator has a final passage where he tells how similar he must have been to his uncle. I think this is an attempt to put us closer to the horror, but it?s rather after the fact.  The door in the...
2022-01-28
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S0303 Number 13 by M R James

Number 13 by M R James Number 13 by M R James is a spooky story of a missing room and its missing inhabitant. Including old churches, musty documents, secrets, the occult and bookish blokes rummaging around Unlucky for some, but not really for Mr Anderson though it gave him quite a shock. This story was commissioned by Gavin Critchley who kindly has allowed me to broadcast it to you all. If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***) Babylonish Church. I wonder whether this was James? own view or he is merely representing the view of his character. James was an Anglican and the protestant view of the Catholic Church was not and in some circles remains not wholly tolerant or kind.  I read an article arguing that because James was so drawn to the medieval period that he must be in possession of a Catholic sensibility, in which the whole world is in some sense sacred. I am not sure this correctly represents Catholic dogma or the Medieval European World View. But it?s fun to read about such things. James leaves things out. For example the red light, the dancing figure that might be a man or a woman. I think he deliberately leaves unresolved threads. I think he does the same in Story of a Disappearance And an Appearance in which we have to try to reconstruct the narrative ourselves to figure out what actually went on, rather than James spoon-feeding us the rational explanation (rational though perhaps also supernatural. The two things aren?t exclusive). In this again I think he is a little like David Lynch who allows images to emerge from his subconscious and uses them leaving us to try and make sense like a Rorschach image. I?m not against, this, and I might be wrong. In the end, we might walk away from this story wondering: eh? The dancing, singing androgynous spirit, the portmanteau that vanishes and then reappears with apparently no significance. I think he just throws this weird stuff in to unsettle us. This is eerie (by Mark Fisher?s definition) in that it has an agent who has a purpose, but both are obscure to us therefore unsettling us. The weird arm that reaches out is one of a string of weird arms: Grendel?s arm in Beowulf, the arm that takes the baby Pryderi in the tale of Pwyll in the Mabinogi. I also heard via Jon Gower about some farmers in Carno who believed there was a house where a monstrous arm appeared. The number of windows is a clue. I take from this that there was a Room 13, but that Room 12 and Room 14 were enlarged to gobble it up. Perhaps because of its bad reputation.  Nicholas Francken is a bit of a red herring. He is an occultist and I?ve said elsewhere that James?s interest in the occult suggests he knew more about it than he lets on in common with his contemporaries, Arthur Machen, W B Yeats etc who were members of the Golden Dawn. But he leads us to believe that we are going to find Francken?s body buried below the planks and then we just find some kind of occult document that no one can read. Another unresolved riddle. 
2022-01-21
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S0302 The Earlier Service by Margaret Irwin

The Earlier Service by Margaret Irwin The Earlier Service is a tale of what happens in a remote English church late at night. A Listener suggested I record The Earlier Service by Margaret Irwin. I hunted it down via the internet and found it in an anthology called Bloodstock, published in 1978 by Ian Henry Publications in 1978. I believe the collection was initially published in 1953. Bloodstock is split into three sections: Stories From Ireland (five stories here); Uncanny Stories (four stories) and two ungrouped stories: Mrs Oliver Cromwell and Where Beauty Lies. Margaret Irwin doesn?t include any biographical information in this book so I had to go looking elsewhere. As usual, Wikipedia came up trumps and I gave them $2 for their great work.  Margaret Irwin was born in Highgate, London in 1889, and she died in 1967 in London also.  Her father was an Australian from Perth and her mother was English and her mother?s father was a colonel in the 16th Lancers, a British Cavalry regiment. She was brought up by her uncle in Bristol after her father died. She started writing professionally in the 1920s and specialised in historical fiction, particularly the Elizabeth and early Stuart periods. As well as historical novels she did ghost stories and two fantasy novels, one about a time slip and the other about a wizard?s daughter. She married a book illustrator who did the covers for some of her books.   The Earlier Service The story seems to hark back to a different England: a rural England of evensong and churchgoing that no longer exists. We have examples from the work of R H Malden and M R James of country vicars going about their business in rural parishes where they and the doctor and the solicitor are the only educated and literary people but where they service and minister to the illiterate throng. Most country churches now in England are dead or dying and this therefore is a picture of a world that once was and is no longer. The story begins with the rector?s family going to church. It?s dad?s job so it is the daughters? duty to go to each service. The younger daughter Jane has developed an irrational fear of the church, though at the beginning, neither she nor we know why. There is some hint that that gargoyles on the church spire are stretching out their necks to get into her room, but that is not what?s happening and is just a little spooky detail thrown in to create atmosphere rather than foreshadowing proper. In the same way the bits of dried black stuff on the church door is said to be the skin of flayed heathens. Imagine torturing people just because they don?t think the same things you do. How awful. I?m glad we?re not like that now. When I was young, I used to collect plastic figures of crusaders. In films they were great heroes, but apparently they are the bad guys now. In any case, the crusader is a great defender in this story. I?ve been to lots of churches with tombs in them with knights and ladies in relief. There was a chapel near Chilingham Castle that I used to take my ghost tours to, usually in the middle of the night. It was always so cold and it was easy to believe in that quiet, chill atmosphere, that they might come back to life.  But of course this is a witchcraft/satanism story. In the old days the two were thought to be the same thing. Of course this is what happened to the old pagan gods?they became demons. Jane sees the little dark man with the sharp object in his hand. Of course this is the old Giraldus atte Welle who was defrocked for demonism back in the day. It seems her mother gets a hint of it, but doesn?t see it as clearly as Jane. This is probably because she is not the next victim. It reminded me of The Blood on Satan?s Claw (1971), that folk horror classic film. This story was written long before that so perhaps it was cribbed by writer Robert Wynne-Simmons and director Piers...
2022-01-14
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S0301 The Fair Family by Tony Walker

A timid man and his worried wife take a trip through Wales. The weather is awful and they worry they will be late for a Christening. That is the least of their worries. A story of the fairy folk and the Welsh gods and the Welsh weather. One of my own. In the afterword I reveal that this whole podcast was a trojan horse to get you to buy my stories. But hang on.... this one's free. My plan failed! Never mind.
2022-01-07
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S02E64 The Pleasure Pilgrims by Ella D'Arcy

The Pleasure Pilgrims by Ella D?Arcy The Pleasure Pilgrims can be seen as a love story, a murder tale or a sort of Christmas Story (though it?s not set at Christmas). But most of it all it is a story that lays bare the differences between British and Americans. They speak the same language, but they mean different things and seem incapable of understanding what the other really means. We?ve done another of Ella D?Arcy?s stories on The Classic Ghost Stories Podcast: The Villa Lucienne. That too deals with the wealthy elite who skipped around Europe staying in grand houses. There is a ghost in that story, there is one in this too?ultimately. Observations as we go along are that the hosts, the Ritterhausens, and Germans in general don?t make much of an appearance in The Pleasure Pilgrims. They add a little local colour. The setting of a grand old German castle near Hamelin with its pied piper is delightful set-dressing.  Ella D?Arcy really brings this out with the snowy train journey, the old bridge choked with ice floes, the German servant in the horse-drawn carriage in his second-best livery.  The main character, Campbell is a successful novelist. However, he is a bit of an innocent. He has some funny ideas about the purity of love and we wonder whether he has ever kissed a girl. D?Arch makes two remarks on the British character, one at the beginning when Campbell is forced to share the carriage with the two American girls. They only ride with him out of kindness to the German servant to stop the man making two trips. Campbell is, like most British people, shy, D?Arcy says.  Then at the end, when the deed is done, she refers to the ?cold, complacent British unresponsiveness?. I don?t think this pairing at the beginning and the end is accidental. In fact, the whole story is a study of British versus American character, and the British don?t come out of it so well.  Campbell has his cynical second Maynes, who won?t believe a single good thing about Lulie and when Campbell himself starts to relent, Maynes is always there to convince him she?s putting it all on. Campbell comes over was a cold-hearted, vain, prig, and Maynes as simply a monster. D?Arcy gives us a short passage where she explains that Maynes really did think Lulie was putting it on and that he wasn?t just an evil pig. At the end, she also explains that Lulie has led the loveless, homeless life of a poor little rich girl. Rich people are people too, you know in case you are ready to dismiss her suffering as not being as valuable as the suffering of a poor person.   Lulie also has her second, Nannie Dodge who appears to be complicit in Lulie?s shameless seduction. If we believe Maynes?s version of the story. Throughout, Lulie?s ostentation and lack of reserve are emphasised, from her flamboyant and luxurious clothes to her persistent warmth and affection. I was reminded of the case of the English nanny Louise Woodward. There is a great article here https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1997/11/24/here-and-there-3 (Here and There | The New Yorker) Woodward was never seen to cry. In court she sat, hunched, deferential, submissive, lowered eyes and voice. This was seen apparently by American eyes as indicating her guilt. However, this deference and submission in an English court is exactly what would show her innocence. The writer makes the point that in America if you are telling the truth, you meet your questioners eyes, you throw your shoulders back, you have nothing to hide. The the British Woodward was appropriately modest and self-effacing as she should be in court being judged by a judge, who might well be a lord. In America, she was shifty and with her eyes down, must have something to hide. Two nations divided by a common language. I remember going to the States for the first time and thinking how amazing it was we really did speak the same language. Small, homely words such...
2021-12-31
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S02E61 The Piano by Tony Walker

A short Christmas Ghost story. A couple move into an old house, a house whose foundations go back centuries. Once in there they begin to suspect it's haunted. A short, sweet ghost story for Christmas where a couple get an opportunity to remember things that have been forgotten. If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)
2021-12-25
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S02E60 Surprise View by Tony Walker

A man who has lost everything goes to a remote part of the country for Christmas. In that beautiful landscape it seems the air is full of spirits: both of nature and of those long gone. A heart-warming ghost story for Christmas. If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)
2021-12-24
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S02E63 Thrawn Janet by Robert Louis Stevenson

Thrawn or Twisted Janet is a tale of devilish possession written in broad Scots. A chilling tale, if you can understand it. My commentary at the end has very little to do with Thrawn Janet, but does go on at length about the sound 'r'. Fascinating. If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a free audiobook:  https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)
2021-12-13
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S02E62 Sir Gawain & The Green Knight

Sir Gawain & The Green Knight Sir Gawain and The Green Knight is the original Christmas Ghost Story. Or technically a supernatural story set at Christmas in the kingdom of Logres ruled by King Arthur. It's pretty gothic. This is a prose translation of a Middle English poem called Sir Gawain and The Green Knight. The translation by Jessie Weston was published in 1898 and though it is certainly not Middle English she has left enough archaic words in to keep that flavour. Jessie Weston herself was born in 1850 in Surrey, England, the daughter of a tea merchant. When she was young the family moved to Bournemouth off England?s south coast and she began writing there. She studied in Hildesheim in Germany and in Paris and at the Crystal Palace School of Art in South London.   She was most famous for her studies of Arthurian romances and the Grail legend where she put forth the ideas that the material was actually pre-Christian and pagan in origin. T S Eliot?s The Wasteland was influenced by Weston?s Arthurian studies.  The Green Knight as it stands was composed no later than the end of the 14th Century (the date of the manuscript) and may be much older. The language is Mercian influenced Middle English, probably from Lancashire. The boundary between Mercian and Northumbrian Old English runs through Lancashire and its dialect is influenced by both, but South Lancashire and Cheshire have Midlands? such as pronouncing the ?g? in ?king? and ?thing?. If you?re interested in Old English dialects, check out Simon Roper?s Youtube Channel for a real treat.  The poem shows signs of oral storytelling with the rich, detailed descriptions that run in sequences and would probably delight an audience as they were elaborated.  The themes are of honour and courage, as befitted the courtly audience, but also of love and fashion, which traditionally interest ladies. Tricky subject these days, but that was the established view for centuries. Things change. I for one embrace change, while I mourn what it lost. I?m a bit like the VoiceOver by Galadriel at the start of the Fellowship of The Ring movie. There are folkloric features which Weston perhaps emphasis because she was interested in them: He bears a holly bough to symbolise life and rebirth. He pole vaults over water as fairies can?t normally cross running water. The bargain is for a year and a day which is in all good fairy tales.  The motif of the talking head appears again and again in Celtic stories: Bran the Blessed, and Bricriu?s Feast from the Ulster Cycle where the beheading challenge is seen. Of course the severed head is seen on a platter in the Perceval/Parsifal/Peredur Stories. The old lady in the castle is the famous with Morgana La Fee. ?I trow? is ?I think? or ?I believe? ?In sooth? is ?truly?, ?really? ?fo sho? ?Wit, wot, witen? are ?to know? . So ? I wit? is cognate with the German ?Ich weiss? or the Dutch ?ek weet? ?List? is ?like? or ?please? ?As he may list?  ?As he pleases? ?Welkin? is sky. ?Hearken? is ?hear, or listen to? Going through the recording as I edit, it strikes me that perhaps the green lace on the axe is the one that Gawain later gets from the lady and transpires to have been the knight?s. It was the magic of this lace that allowed him to survive the blow. Not sure why I didn?t figure that before. This is just what a modern author would be: place an item and bury it in detail so its significance isn?t grasped until much later. It?s mainly showing not telling too. We get some insight into Gawain?s thinking, but mostly the situations are simply described and we infer internal motivations and ruminations from what we hear. Described. I also think it?s unfair of the Green Knight to chide Gawain for cowardice, comparing his fearlessness when faced with the axe. The Green Knight knew he had a magic item that would protect him, so of course he wasn?t scared. Unfair, I say. Unfair. You will note...
2021-12-06
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S02E59 Harry by Rosemary Timperley

Harry by Rosemary TimperleyThank you to Steve Cuff for suggesting I read this story. Rosemary Timperley was born in 1920 in North London and died in November 1988. Her father was an architect and her mother a teacher. Timperley went to her local girls school and became a teacher herself. She taught English and History in a state school. Her pupils said she was a very dramatic figure (she ran the drama club) and wore long swirling black dresses with long drop or hoop earrings. While she was a teacher she began to submit her stories to magazine and they began to be accepted. She became a staff writer and agony aunt on the magazine Reveille. She lived in Richmond, Surrey (a well-heeled suburb of London now) for many years. Many of her stories are set in London. During the Second World War she worked at the Citizens? Advice Bureau in Kensington, London. She got married to a. Physics teacher in 1952 and they lived in Essex just outside London. They separated in the early 1960s according to some sources, but they appear to have been officially married until his death in 1968. In 1961 she mentions she is living in an old-fashioned flat and living on coffee, pink-gin and cigarettes. In 1964 she became seriously ill and had a long spell in hospital. I?m not surprised hearing about her diet. She was very prolific and was the author of 66 novels as well as radio plays and short stories. She was also editor of the 5th to the 9th Ghost Books. Harry has been filmed several times. She described herself as a recluse If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In HereYou could buy me a coffee https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a free audiobook: https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institutehttps://bit.ly/somecomeback (https://bit.ly/somecomeback)
2021-11-29
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S02E58 Taig O'Kane and The Corpse by Douglas Hyde

An Irish story told by Douglas Hyde, first president of Ireland and the craoibhinn aobhinn himself. I thought it was about time we did an Irish story and this is hits all the targets. A wastrel boy compromises the reputation of a local girl and when he goes out on the road to think, he meets a party of the fairy folk and they give him something to carry, and something to bury.
2021-11-22
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S02E57 Whatever Happened to Corporal Cuckoo? by Gerald Kersh

Gerald Kersh Firstly, I need to thank Gavin Critchley who commissioned me to record this for his birthday in August and then very generously allowed me to broadcast it to you all on the podcast. Gerald Kersh was born in Teddington (just outside Central London) in 1912. He was born into a poor Jewish family and during his life had to turn his hand to many jobs to survive. These included being a cinema manager, body guard, cook in a fish and chip shop, French teacher, travelling salesman, night club bouncer and professional wrestler.  It is said he began to write when he was only eight and did all the other jobs to keep him going while he tried to make a living as a writer. His first book was autobiographical and a family member sued him for libel so he withdrew it. His third novel was his most famous one. This was Night And The City which was published in 1938 and made into a film twice. Robert de Niro played the main role in the 1992 film. Kersh joined the British Army during the Second World War and went into the Coldstream Guards but ended up working for the army film unit. He was discharged from the Army in 1943 after having both his legs broken in a bombing raid. While in France, after the liberation that many of his Jewish relatives had died in the Nazi concentration camps. Kersh wrote in a variety of genres after the war and he moved to the USA because he disliked the British tax system which he felt took too much money.  He became an American citizen in 1958. He died in New York in 1968. His biography on the Villancourt Books site states: Kersh was a larger than life figure, a big, heavy-set man with piercing black eyes and a fierce black beard, which led him to describe himself proudly as ?villainous-looking.? His obituary recounts some of his eccentricities, such as tearing telephone books in two, uncapping beer bottles with his fingernails, bending dimes with his teeth, and ordering strange meals, like ?anchovies and figs doused in brandy? for breakfast. Kersh lived the last several years of his life in the mountain community of Cragsmoor, in New York, and died at age 57 in 1968 of cancer of the throat. Whatever Happened to Corporal Cuckoo? This is a story of immortality. If we think of the alchemists who spent their lives, their fortunes, their reputation and their health to find the Elixir of Life and historical figures such as Emperor Rudolf II who, in Prague, funded lots of alchemists to produce such a tincture, then in Whatever Happened To Corporal Cuckoo, we see all of this is turned upon its head. Cuckoo gets the Elixir of Life by accident, it is invented by accident by the French surgeon who treats him. Ambroise Pare was a real military surgeon from this time. After becoming immortal, Cuckoo then spends the rest of eternity looking for get rich quick schemes in order to fund his buying what sounds like a low rent clip joint with girls and booze for low rent customers. He squanders every gift that eternity could have given him, not least by saving a little of his pay (and putting into attacker account as Warren Buffet would have you do). His answer when asked, is that he can?t be anything other than he is. He will do what his character makes him do. This is his dharma. This Indian term means duty but has come in some circles in the West to mean that what you do and can do no other. I often reflect on this these days. Could I be anything other than I am? I think within a limited circle of actions I can change the way I am, but like Cuckoo that is severely limited by my circumstances and my physical, mental and temperamental make up. I ramble about this and more in the audio notes to this episode.  If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here Hate watching me? Listen to audio only versions of my podcast:   https://bit.ly/vurbl (https://bit.ly/vurbl) Get my audiobooks at an insane deal. London...
2021-11-15
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S02E56 The Beast of Blanchland by Rowan Bowman

A man driving home on a winter's night thinks he sees a big cat stalking the moor. He crashes his car and then the weirdness really begins. An original story by Northumberland author Rowan Bowman. #audiobook #horror #northumberland #blanchland Further notes sent me by Rowan after our discussion: Influences in my writing:Raymond Chandler. He writes as a film director, intent on the reader seeing the view clearly in front of them. Daphne du Maurier. Partly because of her sense of place, but also because of the subtlety of the ghosts in some of her stories, Rebecca in particular, the writing is haunted by the melancholy of the nameless narrator, and the actual haunting, the influence that Rebecca has from beyond the grave, is superbly handled. Mandalay was based on du Maurier's own house. I often set books in or around houses I have known intimately. Shirley Jackson. The best writer of mad protagonists and unreliable witnesses in my opinion. Favourite authorsThe first proper ghost story I ever read was A Christmas Carol, I think that's where a lot of people start. As a teenager I suffered from terrible nightmares and took solace in Poe and Lovecraft and progressed to Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes still gives me the shudders). Then I went on to James Herbert, Shirley Jackson and lots of crime stories and thrillers, anything that confirmed it's normal to be scared and okay not to be okay.  Life sorted itself out and I was busy raising my children. The nightmares eased and I read anything I could reach while doing something else. Danielewski's The House of Leaves was the first book in years to actually scare me. I still enjoy Robert Harris thrillers and the Cormoran Strike novels, but I'm back in this stage of my life to seeking out the weird and scary. Dan Simmons is always a good read, I recommend Drood. The atmosphere is intense and like most of his stories the landscapes suck you in. I enjoyed Michelle Paver's Thin Air, but prefer Dark Matter as a supernatural horror, again the landscape is one of the characters, the real horror in Thin Air comes from mundane self-interested cruelty which rather overshadows the supernatural element for me. The landscape in The Loney is brilliantly evoked. There have been several novels since set around the area, but none capture it in the same way. My favourite China Meiville novel is The City and The City, its fantastical landscape is so well drawn that it seems more real than room you are sitting in. The best book I've read since the start of Lockdown has been Piranesi. I loved Johnathon Strange and Mr Norrell; this is very different, but equally good. The reader understands what is going on just before it is revealed, set in a fantasy world that is so well drawn that it's utterly convincing.  If you've ever been asked, 'What is wrong with you?' when admitting to a love of the macabre or frightening, then I recommend Noel Carroll's accessible The Philosophy of Horror (1990) and Lovecraft's collection of essays Supernatural Horror in Literature.  Hope this may be of some interest. Thank you for reading The Beast of Blanchland.  All the best, Rowan
2021-11-08
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S02E55 The Haunting of Unit 409 by Tony Walker

The Haunting of Unit 409 is an original horror story by me, Tony Walker and will be part of my forthcoming More Cumbrian Ghost Stories collection. This is a taster, a teaser, an early release. I hope you like it and enjoy your Halloween listening! If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here Hate watching me? Listen to audio only versions of my podcast:   https://bit.ly/vurbl (https://bit.ly/vurbl) Get my audiobooks at an insane deal. London Horror Stories  https://mailchi.mp/tonywalker/london-horror-stories (https://mailchi.mp/tonywalker/london-horror-stories) If you want to say thank you for all the stories please don?t buy me a coffee (I?m wired enough), buy a book!  Get an ebook here:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-haunting-of-tullabeg (https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-haunting-of-tullabeg) Get a paperback here:  https://www.bookdepository.com/Haunting-Tullabeg-Tony-Walker/9798736978946 (https://www.bookdepository.com/Haunting-Tullabeg-Tony-Walker/9798736978946) Join my mailing list and get a download: https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback (https://bit.ly/somecomeback) ????????
2021-10-31
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S02E54 The Girl With The Hungry Eyes by Fritz Leiber

The story of a female vampire, a femme fatale, a girl who just one day walks into a photographer's studio and wants to do some modelling. Get my audiobooks at an insane deal. London Horror Stories  https://mailchi.mp/tonywalker/london-horror-stories (https://mailchi.mp/tonywalker/london-horror-stories) If you want to say thank you for all the stories please don?t buy me a coffee (I?m wired enough), buy a book!  Get an ebook here:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-haunting-of-tullabeg (https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-haunting-of-tullabeg) Get a paperback here:  https://www.bookdepository.com/Haunting-Tullabeg-Tony-Walker/9798736978946 (https://www.bookdepository.com/Haunting-Tullabeg-Tony-Walker/9798736978946) Join my mailing list and get a download: https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback (https://bit.ly/somecomeback) Fritz Leiber Fritz Reuter Leiber Jr was born in 1910 in Chicago, Illinois and died in San Francisco, California in 1992 when he was 81. His parents were actors and when he was a child he toured with them when they were acting. He got his degree in 1932 in psychology and then after graduating went to be a minister in the Episcopal Church. But didn?t finish and went back to do postgraduate studies in philosophy. He is best known for his fantasy, horror and science fiction stories but he was also a chess master. He was one of he fathers of the Sword & Sorcery genre along with Robert E Howard and Michael Moorcock and it was Leiber who coined the term. His early career was as an actor, following in his parents? footsteps. But he did write some stories. His literary career seems to have been spurred on when he entered into correspondence with H P Lovecraft in 1936 (Lovecraft died in 1937) and he published his first Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser sword and sorcery story in 1939 in a pulp magazine.  He had been a pacifist but when the Second World War broke out he was convinced that the struggle against fascism was worth fighting and he went to work for Douglas Aircraft corporation but still wrote fiction. He married Jonquil Stephens in 1936 and she died in 1969.  Leiber had a life-long battle with alcoholism and long period of addiction to barbiturates was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Despite the success of his novels he was extremely poor and lived in a down at heel hotel surrounded by bookshelves with a manual typewriter.  Things looked up towards the end of his life when he began to get royalty checks from TSR who were the publishers of the successful Dungeons & Dragons games and who had licensed his work. Leiber died in 1992 of a stroke but he married Margo Skinner in the last year of his life The Girl With The Hungry Eyes Lieber published this story in 1949 and it was made into an episode of The Night Gallery in 1972 and has been made into a film twice, once in 1967 and then in 1995. It was also the title of a. Son by Jefferson Starship in 1979 on their album Freedom at Point Zero. Our protagonist is a down at heel commercial photographer when The Girl seeks him out. Is this an act of philanthropy ? In fact as deadly as she is to all other men who covet her she seems to have a soft spot for our photographer and let?s him live, repeatedly rebuffing his attempts to engage in fatal lovemaking.  This seems a very male story. It is uncomfortable to read after the #MeToo revelations because it suggests that slapping the chops off The Girl would be an appropriate and even positive thing to do and that making a pass at a girl in an empty office is exactly what all men would and should do. She is the only female in the story, and she is an archetype. She is a vampire and she punishes these men for their covetous lust but all the same they seem like poor saps driven to lust after her by their impulses. Again the suggestion is
2021-10-25
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S02E53 Laura Silver Bell by J Sheridan Le Fanu

A dark fairytale set in the wild moors of the North of England. A foolish girl falls in love with a tall, dark handsome stranger who stepped out of the woods these days. He says he's a fine lord, and she sees his golden sash and his silver sword and his black velvet jacket. An old wise woman warns her not to take a gift from him, nor eat a morsel of his food, nor yet cross running water to stand beside him. But will she listen? Get a great discount on my Horror Stories For Halloween audiobook & ebook bundle https://spirit.ghostpod.org/horror-stories-for-halloween #audiobook #horrorpodcast #shortstories #literature *** Merchandise https://my-store-5618003.creator-spring.com (https://my-store-5618003.creator-spring.com) Get my audiobooks at an insane deal. London Horror Stories https://mailchi.mp/tonywalker/london-horror-stories Buy me a coffee to show appreciation: https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker ) You can get a free ebook and audiobook: https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Listen to audio only versions of my podcast: https://bit.ly/vurbl (https://bit.ly/vurbl) It is all greatly appreciated. #classicghoststories #classicstories #horrorpodcast
2021-10-18
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SO2E52 The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

In the Backwoods, they do Bad Things. or "Be A Sport, Tessie!"My reading and analysis of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Jackson's 1948 masterpiece of naturalistic horror gone bad. Small town America shows its horrific side. Folk Horror before there was folk horror. The Purge before there was The Purge. Listen, enjoy, understand and come along with me on the journey. Meet Jack too. If you want to download my own audiobooks at an insanely discounted price that ensure no cut goes to the big boys (you know who they are) and you support my work, then check out Horror Stories For Halloween by Tony Walker: https://spirit.ghostpod.org/horror-stories-for-halloween By the by, if you want to sign up as a Patreon, that would be good. https://www.patreon.com/barcud If you want to just buy me a coffee to keep me awake (though these days I don't need much help to do that) then hit here: https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker Get a free audiobook and ebook here: https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire
2021-10-11
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S02E51 The Pomegranate Seed by Edith Wharton

Get a great discount on my Horror Stories For Halloween audiobook & ebook bundle https://spirit.ghostpod.org/horror-stories-for-halloween (https://spirit.ghostpod.org/horror-stories-for-halloween) The Pomegranate Seed The pomegranate seed is a reference to the myth of Persephone and Demeter. Winter and Spring and the Lord of the Underworld. In a sense Mother and daughter are the same, and one aspect of the woman spends time in the world of the dead, while the other walks the world of the living. Kenneth disappears to see about ?their passages.? It is clear that it is his passage over the river Styx to the underworld that he finally arranges. He has been so attached to the ghost of his late wife, that he cannot escape her as she dominated him in life. He wants to escape, he wants to live with his new wife and have new experiences, but he is simply not strong enough to make it so. Charlotte represents the living, mortal world while Elise Ashby represents death. In that sense it is a story about a choice that all of us have to make: to live in this world and be of it and do what work it sets before us or spend our time dreaming of the underworld whence we came and to which we shall return. Deep for a Monday morning, I feel. However, Wharton?s skill as an observer of human behaviour also shines in this story, and for most of the time it is the skilful chronicle of that commonplace (sadly) or married life?the suspicion that our lover?s heart is tethered elsewhere. Trivial, but profoundly upsetting. Charlotte spends a lot of time arguing this when then that way that her husband is having an affair, trying to convince herself in a way that rings very true. Old Mrs Ashby plays the role of the mother goddess who loses her son in this case to the Underworld. This doesn?t totally fit. But she is on the side of life, despite her age, and she supports Charlotte and regrets her son?s attachment to his late wife. In construction there are four parts. We begin with a scene of Charlotte?s unsettledness, standing at the door. What had been her haven now disquiets her and she finds no comfort in modern New York or inside in her home that she once loved.  She coveted the house when it was Elise?s and of course it has always remained Elises and again this is the story of the second wife who is dutiful and loving but is reminded by the possessions and moments and indeed children that she can never really supplant the first. Iff the first wife had been unfaithful then it would be easier, but by dying while he still loved her this has made the second wife?s job impossible. She can never win. Wharton raises questions throughout: what are the letters? Who are they from? Did he love this other woman? But she lays hints as the tension builds that these are not normal letters, they are grey, the handwriting is androgynous (perhaps because Elise is not a woman but a spirit? And therefore neither male nor female in that vague gray underworld?) But its a slow burn and the tension is that of a story about adultery, until it is revealed at the end to be a story about death?s hold on the living. Depressed now? She uses a lot of Britishisms: holiday for vacation, fortnight for two weeks ?I don?t think Edith Wharton played Fortnite. The ending is ambiguous. Wharton prefers subtle hints rather than clear resolutions in her ghost stories, listen to Bewitched or Mr Jones on this channel for that. But it seems to me that both the Old Mrs Ashby and Charlotte are creatures of the daylight world and so they pretend that Kenneth?s disappearance is a daylight occurrence when they know that he has gone down into the night world. Still, they act as is their natures, and call the everyday police. If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here  https://www.patreon.com/barcud (Become A Patreon) For Bonus Stories Or https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (buy me a coffee) , if you?d like to keep me working.  https://bit.ly/somecomeback...
2021-10-04
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S0250 Dragoon by DeWayne Hayes

Towards the end of the American Civil War in north west Arkansas, an old woman is faced with a dilemma. Her son is dead after falling in battle, and her son's wife went missing in the woods on hearing the news. Something happened to her in the woods, something that means the old woman's precious grandson is sick. He's sick, and something is coming over the hill. This story is followed by an interview with the author of the story Dragoon. Get a great discount on my Horror Stories For Halloween audiobook & ebook bundle https://spirit.ghostpod.org/horror-stories-for-halloween (https://spirit.ghostpod.org/horror-stories-for-halloween)
2021-09-25
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S02E49 The Night Wire by H F Arnold

Well after midnight in a newsroom high up above the city, a strange story comes tip-tapping in down the night wire. John Morgan, the night wire expert, turns the morse code into words and the words reveal a mystery. A town no one has heard of is brought to a standstill by a weird fog. This weird fog rolls right out of the graveyard and in it are seen twisted wailing forms. But this tale is stranger even that that. But you'll have to listen to find out why. This pulp story from 1926 was a favourite of HP Lovecraft. Even its author is an enigma. Or is he? The story inspired Stephen King to write The Mist in 1981 which was made into the 2007 movie of the same name. "H. F. Arnold was an American pulp-era writer who wrote only three published stories. Despite this low output, ?The Night Wire? (1926), first published in Weird Tales, is considered the most popular story from the first golden age of that magazine. Lovecraft is said to have loved this story. " Arnold?s only other published stories were The City of Iron Cubes in the March/April 1926 edition of Weird Tales, and When Atlantis Was in the October and December 1937 issues of Amazing Stories.  Who is who is an enigma. The content of The Night Wire suggests he was a newspaper man in a big city in the USA. We have dates for his life as 1902 until 1963, making him 61 at the time of his death, and 24 when The Night Wire was published. How we know  his dates, I?m not certain. If you read most anthologies, we don?t even know if he was really called H F Arnold.  But then someone called William Russo did some research and found out a lot about him. Here?s a link to the full story https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18131763-the-night-wire (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18131763-the-night-wire) It turns out that he was Henry Ferris Arnold who graduated from the Mid-West and went to work in Hollywood working in publicity (we?d call it marketing now) for movies. He started at Goldwyn Studies and became Sam Goldwyn?s Director of Publicity.  There?s something about that night radio DJ thing. Play Misty for me. Other associations are being on night shift.  Film noir.  The Weird Anthology https://amzn.to/3kF1LSr (https://amzn.to/3kF1LSr) The Night Wire read by by E F French https://youtu.be/-SyT6Xga0Eo (YouTube) William Russo?s review on Good Reads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18131763-the-night-wire (The Night Wire by H.F. Arnold) Story suggestions by email please [email protected] If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here  https://www.patreon.com/barcud (Become A Patreon) For Bonus Stories Or  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (buy me a coffee) , if you?d like to keep me working.  https://bit.ly/somecomeback (Music)  by The Heartwood Institute
2021-09-18
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The First Sheaf by H R Wakefield

The First Sheaf is a folk horror story set in the backwaters of rural England. A new vicar goes to a rural parish that has suffered a terrible drought. The local folk shun him and want nothing of his god. He fears they have other gods of their own. Then a young girl goes missing, and the vicar's son must search out the mystery of the round field and pay a terrible price for the knowledge he gains. Think The Wicker Man meets John Barleycorn. Folk horror before they invented the term 'folk horror' Download a my free audiobook https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire)  https://www.patreon.com/barcud (Become A Patreon) For Bonus Stories Or https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (buy me a coffee) , if you?d like to keep me working.  https://bit.ly/somecomeback (Music) by The Heartwood Institute
2021-09-11
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S02E48 The Reluctant Bride by Iqbal Hussain

In rural Pakistan, a rickshaw driver stops by a Peepal Tree and a beautiful bride steps out from the shadows. Of course, at first he thinks she must be a churail, but despite his mother's warnings, he knows he must help this distressed woman. How will his kindness be rewarded? A story by modern British author Iqbal Hussain. After the story I had the great pleasure of interviewing Iqbal and talking about this story and his writing in general. Iqbal HussainIqbal is one of seven writers chosen for the 2021/22 Megaphone scheme for YA/children?s writers. He is one of fifteen emerging writers to feature in the Mainstream anthology by Inkandescent, with his short story ?The Reluctant Bride?, publication date mid-2021. His short story ?A Home from Home? won gold prize in the Creative Future Writers? Awards 2019. He is a recipient of the inaugural London Writers? Awards 2018 and was shortlisted for the Penguin Random House WriteNow scheme 2017. Iqbal is working on his first novel, Northern Boy, about being a ?butterfly among the bricks?.  https://www.ihussainwriter.com Iqbal's Twitter @ihussainwriter  Mainstream by Ikandescent This collection brings thirty authors in from the margins to occupy centre-page. Queer storytellers. Working class wordsmiths. Chroniclers of colour. Writers whose life experiences give unique perspectives on universal challenges, whose voices must be heard. And read. Mainstream by Inkandescent is here: https://amzn.to/2XURiKZ (https://amzn.to/2XURiKZ) (my affiliate link) If You Appreciate The Work I?ve Put In Here  https://www.patreon.com/barcud (Become A Patreon) For Bonus Stories Or  https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (buy me a coffee) , if you?d like to keep me working.  https://bit.ly/somecomeback (Music)  by The Heartwood Institute
2021-09-11
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The Shining Pyramid by Arthur Machen

Over in the Wild West of Wales, (despite him calling it England, the village is Croes y Ceiliog after all), strange signs appear, a girl disappears and it takes a man from London to work out the evil truth. This is the audio extracted from the edited version of my live reading of the Shining Pyramid by Arthur Machen. All the audio is there (some of the live cut out) and it is as polished as well as I can do. There are two microphones in this: the streamed version which is compressed and a little fuzzy and the camera microphone which is tinny. With those warnings, listen if you dare.  PS. An end of summer bargain for you:You can still get my London Horror Stories Full Audiobook plus the Ebook at the insanely discounted price of £2.99, which is not much dollar, and if you buy from my directly, then we don?t give the non-tax paying giants (you know who I mean) their fat cut. https://mailchi.mp/tonywalker/london-horror-stories (https://mailchi.mp/tonywalker/london-horror-stories)
2021-09-08
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S02E47 W S By L P Hartley

In which a writer starts to receive mysterious and increasingly menacing postcards from an apparent stranger. He asks his friends what to do. He goes to the police. And then it all becomes clear. L P Hartley Leslie Poles Harltey was born in Cambridgeshire in England in 1895 and died aged 76 in London England. L P was  educated first at  home and then a Preparatory School before going to  Harrow School?? a private school in North London, where he had won a scholarship.  His father was not particularly high class, he was a solicitor and owned a brickyard.  After Harrow, L P went to Oxford to study (or ?read?) as they say at Oxbridge, Modern History. This was in 1915. In 1917 he joined the army. I think he was conscripted. He was commissioned as an officer in the Norfolk Regiment but never saw active service due to having a weak heart. He was a famous hypochondriac in fact and had what we would call these days a health anxiety.  In 1922 he suffered a nervous breakdown and soon after this started spending long periods in Venice in Italy where he owned his own gondola. He had a particular male friend David Cecil. And this was in a time when being gay was illegal and punishable by time in prison so gay people did not come out. It was believed that he was gay.  After the war he returned to complete his degree Oxford, and even at that time he had an ambition to be a writer.   His first published work was in Oxford Poetry.  And he became editor of Oxford Outlook. He was a lifelong friend of Cynthia Asquith who, as we know, was a famous author of ghost stories and editor of the Pan Horror series for a while.  He mixed in aristocratic circles after graduation and worked as a book reviewer, but his own work did not initially find success and he was depressed.  In 1924, his first volume Night Fears was published and it was well received critically and his work was supported by many influential writers including Cynthia Asquith. He had moderate to good success with later novels, but his major success was with The Go-Between. He was named after Virginia Woolf?s father. Hartley as a youngster was a fan of Edgar Allen Poe.  He named his influences as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James and Emily Bronte, but I find his straightforward style different from all of these.  His most famous quote is possibly: The Past Is Another Country. They do things differently there. W S This is a cracking little story and very simple in structure. We have a writer, and like all writers, he is neurotic about his work. He has had some success, but still harbours doubts.  Then he starts getting postcards from someone with the same initials as himself, though he doesn?t notice the initials as being significant at first. The story uses the ticking clock technique of modern thrillers.  Danger is approaching step by step getting closer and closer: think Die Hard. Though if you didn?t know British geography you might not know that Forfar is distant and Coventry close to the West Country town where Walter Streeter lives.  Nevertheless, each postcard brings the doom closer. There is some nice foreshadowing.  The postcard writer keeps promising a hearty handshake and it is only at the end we are told the character William Stainsforth has only one hand.  The comment that the author doesn?t give any depth to his characters is also a piece of foreshadowing. We are told near the end that the character is a policeman in the story.  This is after the policeman has arrived outside to keep guard. The twist is in the phone call from the real police who apologise for not sending an officer. Who then is the policeman outside?  I wonder if it would not have been more effective if we had known that the character was a policeman but it might be hard to include that snippet without giving the game away too early. The secret with a twist is to place the information in
2021-09-04
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