Reading Ghost Stories: A Christmas Tradition

While ghost stories are primarily connected with Halloween, reading ghost stories on Christmas is a tradition that goes back to Victorian times. Of course, there is the famous Christmas ghost story of them all, A Christmas Story by Charles Dickens, but other classic authors, such as Elizabeth Gaskell and Wilkie Collins, would take the time to write a ghostly tale during the Christmas season,. People would gather by the roaring fire and read ghostly tales that would bring a different chill down their spine.

So if you are interested in upkeeping in this unique but joyous tradition but don’t know which ghost stories to start with, here are some ghostly tales that will help ring in the Christmas season in Victorian style:

The Old Nurse’s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell

A phantom child roams the Northumberland moors, while a host of fairytale characters gone to seed gather in the dark, dark woods in these two surprising tales of the uncanny from the great Victorian novelist. (Credit: Penguin Little Black Classics)

The Abbot’s Ghost Or Maurice Treherne’s Temptation by Louisa May Alcott

Maurice Traherne is wrongly accused of fraud and gambling and must play a careful hand if he is to win his love, Octavia, from the grasp of other, less honorable men and retain the trust of those who had faith in him. (Credit: Thomas Nelson)

A House to Let by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell and Adelaide Anne Procter

Compiled by Charles Dickens, and including chapters by Elizabeth Gaskell, Wilkie Collins and Adelaide Anne Procter, A House to Let is a composite tale of mystery and intrigue set amid the dark streets of Victorian London. (Credit: Hesperus Press)

The Dream Woman by Wilkie Collins

When Francis Raven is roused from his sleep on the eve of his birthday and confronted by the sight of a woman trying to stab him, he is unsure whether she is real or an apparition. Years later, against the wishes of his mother, he marries Alicia, a woman with a strange resemblance to the mysterious visitor, who ends up attacking him on his birthday, before vanishing from his life. Is Francis’s wife a ghost, a demon or a living human being? And will the prophecy of the night-time visitation be fulfilled one day? (Credit: Alma Books)

The Open Door by Margaret Oliphant

Retired officer Colonel Mortimer takes a lease on the mansion of Brentwood, the grounds of which share the ruins of an older house, including a strange, vacant doorway, but eerie events begin to unfold and Mortimer’s son falls ill. As the supernatural takes hold, Mortimer resolves to do what he must to save his son even as he ventures further into an increasingly horrifying place.(Credit: Biblioasis)

The Apple Tree by Daphne du Maurier

A widower admits it only to himself: Midge’s death is a relief. Yet now that he’s free of her hectoring, he still feels her presence. Does he feel guilty? Or does that weather-beaten tree in the orchard bear an uncanny resemblance to her hunched posture? (Credit: Bibliosasis)

The Cold Embrace and Other Ghost Stories by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Amongst Miss Braddon’s prodigious output were many tales of the supernatural and the weird, scattered throughout her collections of short stories and her magazine appearances; but the scarcity of these tales has led to all but a handful being overlooked by anthologisers. Richard Dalby has now collected together eighteen of Miss Braddon’s finest tales of the uncanny, all of which demonstrate her mastery of the form and show why she was one of the best-selling authors of her time. In his extensive introduction, Dalby also takes a thorough look at a fascinating woman, who lived through hardship and scandal to become a respected and much-loved literary figure. (Credit: Ash-Tree Press)

Green Tea by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Based on the psychological complexities of human mind, the work is pervaded by a mysterious aura. A drink opens the inner eye of the protagonist. What follows is a mind-boggling tale of eeriness and reality. Engrossing! (Credit: Penguin Little Black Classics)


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