The Ghostly Advent Calendar: 1st December – Victorian Ghost Stories

1“If you’re listening, you’re a dreamer, come sit by my fire,” sings Melissa Auf der Maur in the brilliantly ghostly ‘Out Of Our Minds’, a song with the sonic power of a thousand poltergeists crashing through an abandoned asylum.

It’s the season to be ghostly, so come and sit by my fire and open the doors on my spooky advent calendar. Each day a chilling Christmas treat – videos, articles, stories and places – will be shared.

I’ll begin with an article by Kira Cochrane of The Guardian, published last year to explain why the Victorians were quite so fond of ghost stories. There’s more to it than early sunsets, long shadows and the wind whistling through the rafters of draughty houses.

It’s about economic change and people forced to live in strange houses in unfriendly cities; about gaslight and the hallucinations provoked by carbon monoxide; about the rise of science and spiritualism and how the new middle classes tried to make sense of their world.

The comments underneath are, unusually for Internet debate, as interesting as the article itself . As one contributor points out, the tradition of ghostly tales at Christmas is much older than the Victorian era. He quotes from ‘A Winter’s Tale’: “A sad tale’s best for winter; I have one / Of sprites and goblins.” Another contributor references the ancient myth of the Wild Hunt, and reminds us that ghost stories are a natural reaction to winter and firesides, as I attempted to explain in my previous blog post.

Until tomorrow, when I’ll open another door on the advent calendar to reveal something darkly festive…


Categories: Opinions, Uncategorized


2 replies

  1. Hi Amy

    Love your blog!

    I don’t know whether you are looking for new book recommendations but I really loved this book Tin Angel by new author Angela Holland

    I too grew up loving ghost stories (and have had a few experiences myself), so I get a bit blasé about ghost stories that haven’t got the right mixture of ‘spine chill’ ☺ This ticked all the boxes and had a great ending. My mum, who is a ferocious reader and tough critic read it first and raved over it

    Very best

    Catherine Morris Managing Director [iroquois logo – red on white] IROQUOIS LOFT 24, 112-116 TABERNACLE STREET, LONDON, EC2A 4LE T 020 7490 2099 FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: [Signature_2012&2013] [Signature_2012&2013]

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  2. Hi Catherine – thank you for the recommendation! I’m certainly going to give this a go. It looks like it has a touch of Lois Duncan about it, one of my favourite teen thriller authors. I’ll review it as one of my Ghostly Gentlewomen in the next couple of weeks. Thanks!

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