This week I’m featuring another Christmas-season ghost story by a woman author: “The Ghost of Charlotte Cray,” by Florence Marryat (1833-1899).
Sigsmund Braggett is a healthy, successful, newly married middle-aged man. To all appearances, his life should be going great; and yet he is troubled. Why, you ask?
Most of us have our little peccadilloes in this world-—awkward reminiscences that we would like to bury five fathoms deep, and never hear mentioned again, but that have an uncomfortable habit of cropping up at the most inconvenient moments; and no mortal is more likely to be troubled with them than a middle-aged bachelor who has taken to matrimony.
In certain aspects of his life, Mr. Braggett was not a very nice man. And now he’s afraid that it’s coming back to bite him.
You can read “The Ghost of Charlotte Cray” here.
Florence Marryat was an actress, a spiritualist, a playwright, and a successful author of sensation novels: tales filled with sex, crime, dysfunction, and lurid scandal. Perhaps her most well-known work today is The Blood of the Vampire, a novel about a mixed-race psychic female vampire.
I imagine her personal life was considered quite scandalous at the time, too. She separated from her first husband while the couple lived in India; she returned to England with her children, while he stayed behind. She lived openly the man who would become her second husband before divorcing her first (who sued her for divorce, citing her adultery as the grounds). She spent the last fourteen years of her life in a relationship with a man thirty-three years her junior; they don’t seem to have married, but he did inherit half her estate. Perhaps it’s no surprise that she claimed that her novels weren’t “sensational,” but rather were written from experience.
I wouldn’t call “The Ghost of Charlotte Cray” lurid, but it’s certainly a tale that’s not shy about the ways men take advantage of women—particularly in an era when being a single (older) woman could be a precarious position. It’s also quite humorous, and perhaps a little cynical. I mean that in a good way.
A list (with links) of the winter tales I’ve shared in previous years is on my Winter Tales page.
For more about the life and works of Florence Marryat, see the Florence Marryat website.
Featured Image: The Lady Behind the Desk (Anonymous Letter), Konstantin Somov (1904). Source: WikiArt