Sublime Horror

Celebrating the best in horror

Month: February 2019

Melissa Edmundson: ‘The ghost story gave women a voice’

Melissa Edmundson is a literary historian specialising in nineteenth and early twentieth-century British women writers, especially those who wrote supernatural fiction. Much of her work centres on re-discovering those writers who have been forgotten. Edmundson is the editor of a new collection of ghost stories by Victorian women called Avenging Angelspublished by Victorian Secrets, an independent publisher dedicated to books about and from the nineteenth century.

If you wish to explore the area further, beyond Avenging Angels, Edmundson wrote for us a reading list of ghost stories by Victorian women writers. Here, I speak to Edmundson about the new collection and her chosen area of research.

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The Gothic imagination: notes from a talk with Professor Nick Groom

Editor’s note: Katariina Kottonen’s excellent write-up of a talk between Peter Meinertzhagen and Professor Nick Groom from 2017 was originally published on Chance and Physics.

The description goes as such: a sleeping woman is draped over the end of a bed with her head hanging down. An incubus is crouched upon her stomach. From the curtains in the background emerges a horse’s head with glowing eyes. The setting is rich in colour – dark reds, yellows and ochres – while the dreaming figure is brilliantly white. The painting is titled The Nightmare, but its explicit eroticism suggests other, more sensual interpretations.

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Weird Sister by Kate Pullinger – revenge is a powerful thing

In April 1593, the whole Samuel family – Alice Samuel, her husband John, and their daughter Agnes – were tried for witchcraft. They were hanged for their supposed crimes, ‘the bewitching of the five daughters of Robert Throckmorton Esquire’ and ‘the betwitching to death of Lady Cromwell’. If you weren’t already aware of the Witches of Warboys, this is not the fictional setting for Kate Pullinger’s 1999 novel Weird Sister, it is a genuine case that scholar George Kittredge called ‘the most momentous witch-trial that had ever occurred in England.’

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The haunted academic, a reading list

Scholars, academics, learned people of all kinds, often crop up in fiction. Horror is no exception and ghost stories from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in particular, featured academics in lead roles. Sometimes this is as the result of ‘write what you know’ more than any other reason; M. R. James, coming up later (because of course he is) being a case in point. But, much more significantly, academics represent rational, empirical, and “modern” thought, in contrast to the superstitions of an older, darker age. The academic represents progress; sometimes as a means of rebutting the supernatural, but sometimes the supernatural could show that perhaps our progress had gone too far. Thank you to Sarah Burton on Twitter for prompting the idea for this reading list and thank you to those who offered suggestions (@cath_fletcher, @marccold, & @ssmithwc1n).

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The Taking of Annie Thorne / The Hiding Place by C. J. Tudor – review

C. J. Tudor‘s debut novel, The Chalk Man, released last year, was a fantastic success. It was a Sunday Times bestseller, shortlisted for the Steel Dagger and National Book Awards, made its way onto a number of the year’s “best of” lists, and even claimed a highly coveted quote from Stephen King, who said, “If you like my stuff, you’ll like this.” It was a success even before it was published, being Tudor’s literary agent’s fastest selling book of all time, won in a nine-way publisher auction.

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The birth of horror in seven films

The term “horror film” really wasn’t in popular usage until 1931, when Variety described Universal’s Dracula and Frankenstein as part of a “horror cycle.” But, the roots of the horror genre go much deeper, all the way to the first years of projected moving pictures. The pre-history of horror is fascinating and filled with various uses of ghosts, witches, and things that creep around in the night. There are dozens of early horrific films still available for viewing and I encourage everyone to go find some of the more obscure films. Below are my pick of some of the most interesting and influential films of the silent era that are still available for viewing.

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