It’s that time of year again! In the tradition of the season, I’ll be sharing spooky winter-themed tales from now until Epiphany, ghost stories for you to read with a hot drink and a warm blanket. My favorite Christmastime ritual!

Old family mansion 768

This year I’ll begin with “House of Strange Stories,” by Andrew Lang, from the collection In the Wrong Paradise, and Other Stories (1886). Yes, that Andrew Lang, famous for his series of colored fairy tales books. But he was also interested in anthropology, history, and psychical research, even serving as the president of the Society for Psychical Research in 1911. So it shouldn’t be surprising that he sometimes wrote ghost stories, too.

“House of Strange Stories” is a perfect tale to start winter tales season, as it epitomizes the yuletide tradition of ghost story telling around the fire:

…all of us, men and women, were sitting at afternoon tea in the firelit study, drowsily watching the flicker of the flame on the black panelling…

Naturally, in such an environment, they eventually begin to swap eerie, “true” experiences. Of special interest is the anecdote from the Bachelor of Arts, which is strikingly similar to–and possibly an inspiration for?–a famous 1906 story by E.F. Benson.

You can read “House of Strange Stories” here.

Enjoy, and I look forward to sharing more tales with you for the rest of the season.

A list (with links) of the winter tales I’ve shared in previous years is on my Winter Tales page.


Engraving by James D. Cooper, for Old Christmas, by Washington Irving (1886). Source: Old Book Illustrations

Featured Image: Telling Christmas stories by the fire, circa 1903. Source: New York Public Library Digital Collection

2 thoughts on “Winter Tales 2020! House of Strange Stories

  1. Hey there! I just wanted to thank you for all of your hard work on this wonderful site! I didn’t realize I could comment or I would have a long time ago! I’ve been enjoying this site for a couple of years now and it’s always my first stop when December rolls around. I usually re read M.R. James’s ghostly tales every December, as well as a good handful of other classic stories, especially those taking place around the Holidays. I can’t get into audiobooks, so this site is perfect! I’ve found so many amazing authors and stories on here that I’d never heard of, and a bunch of stories I could never find online or anywhere else until now. I wish I could find Lucky’s Grove by H.R. Wakefield online in print form rather than audiobook; every year I mean to order a copy of an anthology that it’s in and I always forget lol. I’ve always wanted to read that story around Christmas!
    Thank you again, so very much! Every second you spend sharing these wonderful stories with us, is appreciated more than you will ever know. Happy reading & Happy Holidays!!

    1. Awwww, thank you! It’s always so good to hear that there are people out there enjoying what I do. I have fun trying to hunt down stories that are maybe a little less well known, and hearing from other people is like the icing on the cake.

      The only “print” version of Lucky’s Grove I know of off the top of my head is from Wakefield’s second collection, on kindle: — hardcover is long out of print. It’s a great story, and I’d love to share it, but I restrict myself to what’s clearly in the US public domain, for obvious reasons.

      Happy Holidays!

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