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The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas…
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The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories

by Tara Moore (Editor)

Other authors: Ada Buisson (Contributor), Arthur Conan Doyle (Contributor), Francis Marion Crawford (Contributor), Elizabeth Gaskell (Contributor), John Berwick Harwood (Contributor)3 more, Margaret Oliphant (Contributor), Sir Walter Scott (Contributor), Ellen Wood (Contributor)

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Bravo, Valancourt, you've outdone yourselves with this collection. Editor Tara Moore, author of Victorian Christmas in Print, should also be given major pats on the back for her outstanding work here. Each story begins with a brief introduction to the author, along with a brief note or two as to where his or her story first appeared in print. And for people like me who are afflicted with full-on geekiness, every now and then there's the added bonus of footnotes providing references for further study.

According to the editor's introduction,

"The season of Christmas coincides with the shortest days of the year, and for middle-class Victorians, a chance for families to reconnect in story-telling circles. Urban dwellers, disconnected from village legends, simply picked up a magazine specially made to lace children's dreams with terror. The bleak, shadow-filled walk from the story circle to one's dark bedroom presented an uncomfortably eerie space to reflect on the mental images conveyed by those grisly tales."

The 1820s and the 1830s saw the rise in popularity of the Christmas literary annual, and special periodicals began to appear, their publishers either printing "special Christmas numbers or simply tailoring their December and January numbers for Christmas reading, and that meant ghosts."

As to the thirteen (!) stories included here, while a few are listed as having been from "anonymous" authors, true-blue fans of the Victorian ghost story will definitely recognize the names of most of these writers:

1. "The Tapestried Chamber," by Sir Walter Scott
2. "The Old Nurse's Story," by Elizabeth Gaskell
3. "Horror: A True Tale," by John Berwood Harwick
4. "Bring Me a Light!" by Anonymous
5. "Old Hooker's Ghost," by Anonymous
6. "The Ghost's Summons," by Ada Buisson
7. "Jack Layford's Friend," by Anonymous
8. "How Peter Parley Laid a Ghost," by Anyonymous
9. "A Mysterious Visitor," by Ellen Wood
10. "The Haunted Rock," by W.W. Fenn
11. "The Lady's Walk," by Margaret Oliphant
12. "The Captain of the Pole-Star," by Arthur Conan Doyle
13. "The Doll's Ghost," by F. Marion Crawford

My advice: snuggle up with a cup of your favorite hot brew, wrap up in a cozy blanket, light a fire in the fireplace, and prepare to be transported out of this world and back through time. While it is a perfect book for Christmas reading, it's also ideal for any other time of the year. It is a lovely book, and most definitely now a treasured part of my own personal collection.

beyond recommended, especially to people who share my unquenchable ardor for Victorian ghost stories. ( )
2 vote bcquinnsmom | Dec 27, 2016 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Moore, TaraEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buisson, AdaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Conan Doyle, ArthurContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crawford, Francis MarionContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaskell, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harwood, John BerwickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Oliphant, MargaretContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Scott, Sir WalterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wood, EllenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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