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!
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.
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