I don’t know about you, but when the leaves begin turning color and fluttering to the ground, I start looking for something a bit different to read. A scary story, or one with a bit of magic or a spine chilling twist. Being a lover all of things Victorian, I often look to stories from the era for my autumn read. In the 1890’s, there were a rich crop of stories to choose from.
THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Arthur Conan Doyle’s second novel featuring private detective Sherlock Holmes appeared in 1890. The mystery at the heart of the story is complex and full of twists. The story introduces, Mary Morstan, Dr. Watson’s future wife, and features stolen treasure and a plot between four conspirators.
THE YELLOW WALLPAPER
This story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman appeared in The New England Magazine for the first time in 1892. It’s an unforgettable tale of a woman’s descent into madness, and Perkins is able to convey all of the eeriness and tragedy of her story in an unforgettable 6,000-word short story.
Bram Stoker’s story introducing the most famous vampire in literature in 1897. The novel is unique in many respects, not only for its iconic antagonist, based partly on Stoker’s reading of Romanian history, but also for its epistolary style. The action unfolds through letters, diary entries, newspaper accounts, and even a ship’s log.
THE TURN OF THE SCREW
Henry James’s sinister short story appeared in serial form in Collier’s Magazine for the first time in 1898. This one hits every note on the spooky scale—a remote country estate, a governess who thinks she sees ghosts, and two children who play unexpected roles in the mystery.
I wrote my very first ghost story this summer. It’s also my first foray into the Regency era. A Love for Lady Winter features a heroine who sees apparitions, and a scientific hero who’s fascinated with galvanism and believes in nothing he cannot prove with an experiment. The original novella will appear in the multi-story set, Enchanted at Christmas, due out September 26.
If you’re fan of ghost stories or eery tales, especially with a historical setting, please comment and share your recommendations.