The English Ghost, By Peter Ackroyd
Things that go bump in the night, and other frights
Sunday 09 October 2011
Here is an entertaining anthology of apparitions, unquiet souls, animal ghosts and poltergeists, from the late sixth century to the late 20th, conjured up by eyewitness accounts in diaries, letters and articles.
The titles give the flavour: "At the end of the hall", "The chattering voices", "House guests", "The woman in the field", "The phantom of the A38", "The boy in the schoolroom" .... There is a strong sense of place: of English country houses, churches, roads and railways. And the style is deliberately dry, musty and antiquarian, even if most of the tales are curious, rather than genuinely scary in the manner of M R James. The stories have a pleasing strangeness, even, or perhaps especially, if one does not believe in ghosts.
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