Vintage, £7.99, 273pp £7.59 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The English Ghost, By Peter Ackroyd
Friday 21 October 2011
According to Peter Ackroyd, the English see more ghosts than any nation on earth. In this Halloween-friendly anthology of "true" ghost stories, he takes us through a history of English hauntings from the sixth century onwards.
Lacking the dressings of fiction, these eyewitness accounts can feel quite bald, but all the more peculiar for that. Some ghosts behave quite conventionally - they stand at the end of beds and warble - while others, like the Thirties Thames Ditton commuter-train ghost, are terrifying by their ordinariness.
In the book's spry introduction, we learn how the English have over 200 words for their spirits and sprites, ranging from "hobbits" and "dobbies" to the more outlandishly named "mum-pokers", "chiittifaces", "melch-dicks" and "clabbernappers".
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 3 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 James Foley beheading: Fox news presenter Megyn Kelly annoyed by Ferguson update during broadcast about murdered journalist
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing 'Singing Sorceress' Celestina Warbuck
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
American film board gives gay film Love Is Strange R-rating despite no sex or violence
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians