It’s time for Winter Tales! To commemorate the old tradition of telling ghost stories around Christmastime, I’ll be sharing mostly winter-themed spooky stories here from the beginning of December through Epiphany. So grab a hot drink and curl up in your favorite armchair to savor some old-fashioned thrills and chills!

Graveyard Under Snow, Caspar David Friedrich (1826)

My first story this year is “A Musical Mystery,” an anonymous contribution to The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, for April 1875. It’s the tale of a creepy winter night visit to a mortuary, when a mysterious customer comes to purchase a coffin. For himself. A coffin shaped like a violoncello-case.

You can read “A Musical Mystery” here.

To quote the introduction to this story at the Victorian Short Fiction project, this is a narrative that “explores the conflict between rationalism and supernaturalism.” The story also make reference to a particular piece of folklore that’s commonly associated with certain musicians. And that makes me love it even more!

I hope you’ll find this a fun entry into this year’s Winter Tales season. Enjoy!


Incidentally, as of this writing, the entry at the VSFP incorrectly lists this story as having been published in 1860. The correct publication information is The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, Series 3, Vol 18, issue 124, April 1875. I plan to notify the project, so perhaps by the time you read this it will have been corrected.


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

A version of this story with annotations can be found here, at the Victorian Short Fiction Project.

My source for the correct publication information is Julie Sorge Way’s Index to the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, which points to the appropriate volume at the Internet Archive. From there, I could directly verify the issue number and date information.

Featured Image: “A Ghost Story” by George Thomas, Illustrated London News, December 31, 1864. Source: Brom Bones Books.

Image: Graveyard under Snow, Caspar David Friedrich (1826). Source: WikiArt

4 thoughts on “Winter Tales Time! A Musical Mystery

    1. I find I use Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings a lot in the blog, especially for winter tales. The mood of his work fits the material that I share quite well.

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