Sublime Horror

Don't say elevated horror

Author: Lewis Hurst

Upstairs’ downfall: The decline, death and afterlife of the English country house in five ghost stories

The stately homes of England, how beautiful they stand, To prove the upper classes have still the upper hand. – Noël Coward, “The Stately Homes of England”, 1938

From the grand halls of the aristocracy to the homely manors of the gentry, the country house has been an enduring feature of the English landscape for centuries. Its inhabitants have likewise long been conspicuous on the English social scene and this is reflected in fiction. Despite urbanisation and the major social changes that have taken place in Britain since the Second World War a fascination with this class of people, their way of life and their houses has remained. One only has to think of the most popular British period dramas for confirmation.

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Five supernatural tales by authors not known for horror

Some of the best tales of horror and terror have been produced by writers whose names do not conjure up the isolated castles, decaying mansions and sheeted forms of the gothic inheritance. These authors bring fresh perspectives to well-worn tropes and often use the form to explore themes found elsewhere in their works. Such stories are valuable to scholars of the supernatural in fiction, demonstrating the potential of the genre, and to those interested in individual authors, as they provide neat examples of overarching themes in a writer’s oeuvre. Most importantly, they give the reader a tale well-told.         

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