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".
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Sussex couple die in suspected Christmas Day 'suicide pact'
- 5 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Doctor Who Christmas special, review: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
The Interview film review: Controversial gross-out satire is broad, bawdy and bad - but undeniably entertaining
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever