Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, February 21, 2020


A Second Century of Creepy Stories edited by Sir Hugh Walpole (1937)

Here's another doorstop British anthology from the 1930s, this time weighing in at 1023 pages and containing 27 stories.  The publisher this time around is Hutchinson & Co., which published a slew of similar volumes including the first A Century of Creepy Stories (anonymously edited).  Some of Hutchinson's related titles were A Century of Detective Stories (anonymously edited, but introduced by G. K. Chesterton), A Century of Ghost Stories (also anonymously edited), A Century of Humorous Stories (edited by P. G. Woodhouse), A Century of Sea Stories (edited by Rafael Sabatini, who also edited their A Century of Historical Stories), A Century of Ghost Stories (edited by Dennis Wheatley), and like-minded collections of Popular Romances, Boy's Stories, Girl's Stories, Nature Stories, and Western Stories.

Once again we have a combination of familiar and unfamiliar stories, ranging from suspense, to mystery, to the supernatural.  As in Odham Press's The Mystery Book (covered here last week), Henry James' The Turn of the Screw is included.  Also included are Le Fanu's "Camilla," de Maupassant's "The Horla," Bierce's "A Watcher by the Dead," Oliver Onion's "The Beckoning Fair One," and F. Marion Crawford's "The Upper Berth" (if you have not read all of these readily available tales, please correct this deficiency post haste)Other writers of note include Wilkie Collins, Walter de la Mare, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, M. R. James, Margaret Irwin, and Ann Bridge.  Writers who may be unfamiliar (or nigh well forgotten) include Michael Joyce, Shane Leslie, Hector Bolitho, T. O. Beechcroft, Ralph Straus, "Bartimeus" (Lewis Ritchie), and A. M. Burrage (who has two stories here, one as by "Ex-Private X").

Depending on your previous reading in the field, this volume may be either a treasure trove or a minor anthology.  Most of the writing is dated (although some of the tales are timeless), and couple of the stories can be rated as just plain meh.  All in all, however, this can stand as a cornerstone of creepy tales from the early part of the twentieth century and the latter part of the nineteenth.

The stories:

  • William Wilkie Collins, "Mad Monkton" (from the collection The Queen of Hearts, 1859)
  • John Metcalfe, "Mortmain" (from the collection Judas and Other Stories, 1931)
  • Anonymous, "The Dead Bride" (translated from the French [1912] by "Marjorie Bowen" for her 1933 anthology Great Tales of Horror
  • Sheridan Le Fanu, "Camilla" (first published in four parts in the monthly magazine The Dark Blue, December 1871 to March 1872; the story has also been published as "Blood and Roses," "Vampire Lovers," "Camilla:  A Tragic Love Story," "Camilla:  A Vampyre Tale," and "Camilla:  The Vampire Lovers")
  • "Bartimeus" (Lewis Ritchie), "The Green Door" (from the collection An Off-Shore Wind, 1936)
  • Sir Hugh Walpole, "Tarnhelm" (from Liberty, December 28, 1929; also published as "Tarnhelm, or The Death of My Uncle Robert")
  • Ambrose Bierce, "A Watcher by the Dead" (first published in the San Francisco Examiner, December 29, 1899)
  • Walter de la Mare, "The Trumpet" (first published in the Virginia Quarterly Review, October 1936)
  • Ralph Straus, "The Most Maddening Story in the World" (first published in The Sovereign Magazine, August 1920)
  • Arthur Machen, "Change" (from the collection The Children of the Pool and Other Stories, 1936)
  • Algernon Blackwood, "Keeping His Promise" (from the collection The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories, 1906)
  • "Ex-Private X" (A. M. Burrage), "The Oak Saplings" (first published in The London Magazine, October 1928)
  • M. R. James, "Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance" (from the collection More Ghost Stories from an Antiquary, 1911; also published as "The Maze")
  • Oliver Onions, "The Beckoning Fair One" (from the collection Widdershins, 1911)
  • Guy de Maupassant, "The Horla" ("Le Horla") (first published in Gil Blas, October 26, 1886, then expanded in 1887; probably the first English translation [of many] from the anthology Modern Ghosts, 1890)
  • F. Marion Crawford, "The Upper Berth" (first published in The Broken Shaft:  Unwin's Annual for 1886, edited by Sir Henry Norman, 1885; also published as "What Was in the Upper Berth?)
  • Hector Bolitho, "The House in Half Moon Street" (first published in Nash's Pall Mall Magazine, March/April 1934)
  • "Marjorie Bowen" (Gabrielle Margaret Vere Campbell Long), "The Crown Derby Plate" (from the collection The Last Bouquet:  Some Twilight Tales, 1933)
  • Henry James, The Turn of the Screw (first serialized in twelve parts in Collier's, January 27 to April 16, 1898)
  • Margaret Irwin, "Monsieur Seeks a Wife" (first published in Nash's Pall Mall Magazine, December 1934)
  • "Ann Bridge" (Mary Dolling Sanders O'Malley), "The Accident" (from the collection The Song in the House:  Stories, 1936)
  • Martin Armstrong, "Mrs. Vaudrey's Journey" (first published in The Story-teller, February 1933)
  • A. M. Burrage, "Browdean Farm" (from the collection Some Ghost Stories, 1927)
  • Michael Joyce, "Perchance to Dream" (first published in The London Mercury, December 1930)
  • Shane Leslie, "The Drummer of Gordonmuir" (first published in Ainslee's Magazine, January 1906)
  • Rupert Croft-Cooke, "Banquo's Chair" (apparently original to this collection)

Not a bad collection if this is your cup of tea.

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