PODCAST

Classic Ghost Stories

Tony Walker

A weekly podcast which reads out ghost stories, horror stories and weird tales every week. Classic stories from the pens of the masters. Occasionally we feature living authors, but the majority, are dead. Some perhaps are undead.

Episode 1: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
14-09-2019
Episode 1: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
(Subscribe For All Episodes!) Charlotte Perkins Gilman, nee Charlotte Perkins, was born in 1860 in Hartford, Conneticut. Sadly, she committed suicide in 1935 in Pasadena California. Her father’s family was relatively well connected, but her father left the family when she was young, leaving her mother to bring up the two children. Her mother was forced to move around a lot to find work and Charlotte’s education suffered because of that.  Perhaps because of her challenging childhood, Charlotte became a social reformer and feminist and was interested in furthering the political interests of women. She founded a feminist journal The Forerunner from 1909. The Yellow Wallpaper is her best known story and was published in 1892. She also wrote non-fiction most notably, Women and Economics which was published in 1898. The Yellow Wallpaper was actually Episode 1 of the Classic Ghost Stories Podcast. Her first marriage was to an artist called Charles Stetson in 1884 at the age of 24. The marriage was not happy and she suffered from depression. It is said that this illness provided much of the material for The Yellow Wallpaper, and if she was suffering from depression with psychotic features, this would tie in very well with the bizzarre delusions about the wallpaper and the things in it. This is reminiscent of The Horla by the French writer Guy de Maupassant, which is Episode 35 of the Classic Ghost Stories Podcast. The Horla was published in 1887, but there is no evidence that Charlotte was familiar with The Horla, and the earliest translation into English that I can find is 1903. She married her cousin George Gilman in 1900 and stayed with him until 1934. In that year she discovered she had terminal breast cancer. She committed suicide after that. The story is a double play: is it the story of a woman going mad, or a woman possessed by something evil? We begin to suspect that the narrator’s apparently caring husband John, may not be as caring as she thinks. Is he trying to control her? We know that Charlotte was much concerned with the emancipation of women and them achieving financial independence, so is the character of John an echo of this? The horror in the story revolves around the Yellow Wallpaper and like many of us, she sees to have seen patterns in the abstract wallpaper that eventually evolve into characters. She ultimately can enter the wallpaper and more disturbingly, the woman from the wallpaper can come out into her room. The bizarreness of the crouching, creeping figures serves to unnerve the reader. MusicMusic is by the marvellous  (Heartwood Institute) Download Charles Dickens The Signalman Free Mp3  (Subscribe to our list and keep in touch with the podcast. Learn of new episodes and bonus Content. ) Support our work PLUS you get a free story right now! (The Story Link is in the Thank You Email) Show Your Support With A Coffee! (Buy the thirsty podcaster a coffee...) Final Request: The SurveyI want to know what you want. If you have three minutes, I'd be grateful to know what you think of The Classic Ghost Stories Podcast. (Click here to go to the Survey)
Episode 2: The Room in The Tower by E F Benson
16-09-2019
Episode 2: The Room in The Tower by E F Benson
Edward Frederic Benson was born in 1867 at Wellington College in Berkshire, England and died in 1940 in London of throat cancer aged 73.  Benson’s father was E W Benson who was Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest office in the Anglican Church and the Anglican version of the Pope! His father had been bishop of Truro in Cornwall and Benson sets some of his horror stories in Cornwall. Benson’s elder brother wrote the words for that famous English patriotic song: Land of Hope and Glory.  He went to the private Marlborough School and then studied at King’s College in Cambridge. After he graduated in 1892, he went to Athens where he worked for the British School of Archaeology and then in Egypt also engaged in the promotion of archaeology. His elder sister Maggie was an Egyptologist. He was also a good figure skater, and represented England. In 1883, he published his first novel which was very successful. He was most famous for his Mapp and Lucia satirical novels.  As well as his Mapp and Lucia novels and his ghost stories, Benson wrote biographies, including of Charlotte Bronte. Benson was upper class and wealthy and also a confirmed bachelor, meaning he was gay, though not publicly in those days. In his diary he noted he fell in love with Vincent Yorke, a famous cricketer, who apparently did not return his affections. He shared a villa in Capri, Italy for while with another John Ellingham Brooks a pianist who moved to Capri apparently fearing prosecution for being gay. His lifestyle of leisure; of country house parties and taking shooting lodges in the Scottish Highlands forms the background for many of his stories. Benson is a good writer of ghost stories and this one, The Room in the Tower, is particularly unnerving. The scene is set by the story of a recurring nightmare, followed by an apparently innocuous invitation to a weekend at a country house, where element after element matches his nightmare, down to repeated phrases.  The tower, where he is set to sleep, is apparently haunted by a vampire; Mrs Stone. The story has an air of real experience about it and I wonder whether Benson himself had a recurring nightmare, or poached the idea from the real experience of a friend. I was told a similar story by a young woman I met and this dream, and Benson’s story The Room in The Tower were the inspiration for my own story: He Waits Music is by the marvellous  (Heartwood Institute)  Download Charles Dickens The Signalman Free Mp3  (Subscribe to our list and keep in touch with the podcast. Learn of new episodes and bonus Content. ) Support our work PLUS you get a free story right now! (The Story Link is in the Thank You Email) Show Your Support With A Coffee! (Buy the thirsty podcaster a coffee...) Final Request: The SurveyI want to know what you want. If you have three minutes, I'd be grateful to know what you think of The Classic Ghost Stories Podcast. (Click here to go to the Survey)
Episode 3: Whistle and I'll Come to You by M R James
16-09-2019
Episode 3: Whistle and I'll Come to You by M R James
M R James is known as the father of the English ghost story. He wasn’t the first to write ghost stories, but he was the finest of his generation whose work continues to be published and re-presented as TV shows and radio plays. He was born in 1862 at Goodnestone in Kent. His father was a clergyman and was rector of Livermere in Suffolk. East Anglia features as the setting of many of M R James’s stories.  James’s ‘proper job’ was as an academic and he had a distinguished academic career at King’s College in Cambridge where he became dead in 1889 and finally provost in 1905. He was awarded a doctorate in literature by Cambridge in 1895 and honorary doctorates by Trinity College Dublin and St. Andrews University in Scotland. He moved to become provost of the famous Eton College, supplier of many prime ministers of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in 1918. He was a trustee of the British Museum from 1925. In 1893, James began his tradition of reading ghost stories at Christmas by candlelight to a hushed circle of his colleagues and friends. His geographical background in East Anglia is evident in many of his stories, as well as his bicycling trips to Europe. Many of his heroes are fumbling academics and Latin and old manuscripts and church architecture also features strongly. He clearly had a knowledge of the occult and demonology, though he was not known to be a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, as were other writers of ghost stories such as Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen.  Oh Whistle And I’ll Come To You, My Lad! Is the title of a poem by the Scottish poet Robbie Burns, and James borrowed this title though Burn’s story concerns a jilted lover.  Perhaps he borrowed it because the central item in the story is the ancient whistle found in the sand covered ruins of the old abbey, which when blown, seems to summon the spirit that haunts the narrator. The Latin inscription: Quis est qui venit? Means ‘Who is this who comes?’ The other inscription around the plus sign, or cross, is a puzzle of a Latin proverb: Fur Flabis Flebis which means, ‘Thief, if you blow; you will weep.” And in one sense, though a finder, our man is a thief, and when he blows, he certainly does weep. It is the sheer weirdness of the ghost that is unnerving, and James is the master of this disturbing oddness which is not quite the same as Lovecraft’s Cosmic Horror in his weird tales or later Robert Aickman’s unnerving unnaturalness in his ghost stories. The closest parallel I find to James’s inexplicable and disturbing weirdness is in David Lynch’s movies, particularly Inland Empire and the Third Season of Twin Peaks. Support Us! (Subscribe For All Episodes!) Music Music is by the marvellous  (Heartwood Institute)
Episode 4: Bewitched by Edith Wharton
22-09-2019
Episode 4: Bewitched by Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton, nee Jones, (born New York 1862, died aged 75 in France) was a famous American novelist. Her nickname interestingly was Pussy Jones. She was very high society and was a debutante and socialite. She was also a very good writer. Wharton wrote best-sellers such as The Age of Innocence, which won the 1921 Pulitzer prize, and Ethan Frome. She also wrote short stories, and among those short stories were several ghost stories. I think the first scene shows Wharton's mastery of her art. She introduces the three ordinary, taciturn men who are summoned without knowing why to the house of stern mrs Rutledge. She sets the scene: it's an isolated, rural area with primitive customs. Even more isolated at this time of the year because of the snow. Then she introduces the issue of her husband dilly-dallying with a revenant to much consternation and anger. The first scene ends with the dramatic entry of Mr Rutledge, who has precious little to say for himself. The characters are so well drawn and we end with a promise. The themes of rural isolation and old customs held by primitive folk is echoed throughout the later weird literature with Lovecraft making judicious use of it in the same New England, and then the Folk Horror films of the 1970s do the same in rural Old England (and Scotland for The Wicker Man). We see the same theme of rurality and superstitious ancient customs in this year's folk horror movie Midsommar, set in Sweden. And then the party breaks up. By chance they go to the scene of the haunting earlier than planned. There, Brand shoots someone in the ruined house (another trope). They've seen footprints on the snow both too light to be human and the snow too cold to be borne by a living person, so that seems to set up the ghost as real. But who does Brand shoot? Then the ghost's sister dies. Did Brand shoot his own daughter? If he did, then this is no ghost story, but presumably the Rutledge's knew the difference between the dead and living daughter? Unless old Saul Rutledge is just an old dog and knows fine well that the flesh he's enjoying is warm and alive but it suits him to portray it as a haunting... I don't know. After the funeral, Mrs Rutledge's plain ordinary words seal the community as a coming back to their plan old ordinary ways, the "forbidden things" as the Deacon repeats, put away (but not forgotten) Next week, I think I'm going to do Lovecraft's Dagon, though I am being pulled towards Le Fanu's Carmilla, which is quite long and would need a couple of episodes. We shall see. (Subscribe For All Episodes!)
Episode 5: August Heat by W F Harvey
23-09-2019
Episode 5: August Heat by W F Harvey
August Heat W F Harvey was a Yorkshireman, born in 1885 and died in 1937. He was a Quaker and suffered from ill health all his life. He joined an ambulance unit in the First World War but then went to work as a surgeon-lieutenant in the Royal Navy. He actually won a medal for saving lives but suffered from lung trouble the rest of his life from that rescue, though that didn’t stop him smoking a pipe. He published his first collection of short stories called The Midnight House in 1910 and his second in 1928 called The Beast with Five Fingers. The Beast With Five Fingers is a splendid story was was made into a film in 1946 starring Peter Lorre. I remember watching it at home with my parents and being really creeped out. The next time I watched it as an adult, I realised it was a comedy. This is a short piece of fiction. We’d almost call it Flash Fiction these days. August Heat is strong in its depiction of atmosphere of the hot August weather. The weird coincidence of the two men encapsulating each other in their own particular forms of art is strange. These days, it isn’t really unnerving. And the long established trope of leaving the reader to wonder whether he will actually die that night before midnight - and he’s got less than an hour left, is fun, but wouldn’t satisfy the modern reader. I’ve tried it and you get one starred into oblivion if you try that kind of trick on Amazon. I would be most grateful for any shares, ratings or reviews on the Podcast Channels and if you would like to, there are links to support the show through a small donation (Support the show) (
Episode 6: The Open Door by Charlotte Riddell
26-09-2019
Episode 6: The Open Door by Charlotte Riddell
Charlotte Riddell was born in 1832 in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. After she married she moved to London where she lived most of her life and died in Ashford in Kent in 1906. Riddell was a very prolific novelist and well known in the Victorian period. She actually owned and ran a Literary Magazine in the second half of the 19th Century.  The Open Door is considered a classic Victorian ghost story and it reminds me of some of Wilkie Collin’s stories which are more or less contemporary. The Open Door is both a ghost story and not a ghost story. It has elements in it reminiscent of Scooby Doo and if hadn’t been for the pesky sacked insurance clerk, maybe you know who would have got away with it But for all that the opening of the door does appear to be supernatural. It simply won’t stay shut and breaks of the handle of the gimlet. We don’t use gimlets much these days, but once I looked up what a gimlet was the phrase ‘gimlet eyed’ became more understandable. And then there is the monstrous figure that appears at the end. This seems to truly be a ghost and the apparition reminds us that the function of ghosts in stories is often a warning and a demand that murder or other outrages be put right and justice be done. Banquo’s Ghost in MacBeth and Hamlet’s father in Hamlet do much the same. It’s all about revenge. The story is a pretty straightforward adventure but there are a couple of nice touches. Phil Edlyd’s uncle seems a nice chap. He uses dialect thee and thou, which is a nice homely touch. Another endearing feature is that Phil longs to be a country boy. He loves horses such as old Toddy and he luxuriates over the descriptions of the beautiful summer countryside outside Ladlow Hall. In the end he gets to be a farmer with his beloved Patty. The Victorian ghost story was an outgrowth of the Gothic novel, a specialist sub-branch if you like. Ladlow Hall functions as the ruined castle/abbey etc of the Gothic novel. All in all a nice piece. Unpretentious but sweet. Not scary. But then ghost stories are really scary. They’re not horror stories you know. And besides after the Human Caterpillar there’s not much can scare we moderns anyway. Support Us! (Subscribe For All Episodes!) Music Music is by the marvellous  (Heartwood Institute)
Episode 7: Man Sized in Marble by Edith Nesbit
04-10-2019
Episode 7: Man Sized in Marble by Edith Nesbit
Edith NesbitEdith Nesbit was an English novelist born in 1858 in Kennington, which was then Surrey and is now part of London. She died in 1924 in the next county from where she was born. Nesbit is most famous for her children’s books and her most famous work The Railway Children is well beloved. I loved her Five Children and It stories which I read in a Victorian house all decked out for Christmas one year. That was splendid as the owner of the house had a great sense of interior decoration (though she was also rather too fond of a drink as I found out when I grew up) Like most Victorian novelists she had a dabble in ghost stories. They sold well at the time. This one, Man Sized in Marble appears in a lot of anthologies. It’s a story that is more impressive on the second reading (or hearing). The first time through you don’t pick up on all the little hints and foreshadowings that something dreadful is going to happen. In fact, Laura’s death wasn’t foreseen by me, which is the sign of a good story. There is a lot of nice Gothic description of the woods and the moon and the church as well as the house lit by candles and tallow tapers.  I was going to do The Nurse’s Tale this week, but this took precedence. I am going to do The Phantom Coach next week, but I’m itching to do something American again to perfect my accent. I appreciate it may take more than one story to do that. So, I’m thinking Ambrose Bierce. Any suggestions welcome. My new book is out. Hard copies arrived today. Very exciting. I’m still doing voiceover and narration work if you need any of that done. I find most people don’t. As ever, still spending more on the podcast than I earn, so if you fancy helping me out, check out To show your appreciation, why not subscribe to Substack. Free gets all the free stuff and $5 a month gets you all the exclusive stories and episodes. (Subscribe)
Episode 9: The Moonlit Road by Ambrose Bierce
05-10-2019
Episode 9: The Moonlit Road by Ambrose Bierce
Ambrose Bierce was a prominent American author in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. He is most famous for his Devil’s Dictionary. He served in the Union Army in the American Civil War and his military experience forms the background of many of his stories. He was born in a log cabin at Horse Cave Creek, Ohio. His ancestors were English puritans. By trade he began as a printer and he was later a journalist.  He was a controversial figure often mired in argument and litigation.  At the age of 71, heading for a tour of his old Civil War battlefields, Bierce disappeared. He wrote a letter from Chihuahua, then he disappeared. He was never found. Bierce published the Moonlit Road in 1907.  This was just about the start of the literary and artistic movement known as Modernism, though its roots can be traced a little further back. While other classic ghost story authors are distinctly Victorian, the heyday of the ghost story, arguably, Bierce appears far more Modern, or even Modernist. In the Moonlit Road, for example, Bierce uses multiple narrators giving overlapping, but distinct viewpoints of the same event. He uses this technique in other stories. It’s only through the composite that we see what has (may have) really happened, and even then, there are things missing. There are three narrators to this story, the son, the father (gone mad and forgetful of his true identity) and the mother (now dead as a mournful ghost). The three together give us a fairly clear view of what has happened, but the fourth narrator is missing. Who is the mysterious figure leaving the house by the back door? It’s this figure that drives the husband into a jealous rage, leading him to kill his wife. And his wife is unaware that it is her husband that killed her. He thinks the figure is her lover. She thinks the figure is some monster. Why does the figure hesitate to come in and leave without encountering the wife? Is the figure a real man? A thief? Or the personification of Death himself — soon to visit Mrs Hetman.  The leaving out of the fourth witness to the tragedy is masterful, but then so much of Bierce is masterful. (Support the show) (
Episode 8: The Phantom Coach by Amelia Edwards
11-10-2019
Episode 8: The Phantom Coach by Amelia Edwards
Amelia Edwards was born in 1831 in London, England. As such she is one of the oldest writers we’ve read so far in this podcast. She died aged only 60 in Weston Supermare, a seaside resort in the west of England. She came from a wealthy background and didn’t have to work, but she was a very successful writer based on her own talents. She was in fact a very talented woman and had the potential to be a professional artist though her father, a banker, frowned on that as a career. She also made home with a woman, long before such things were accepted by polite British society. She was also an Egyptologist and after a cruise down the Nile and a long stay among the monuments, she devoted all of her efforts to saving the Egyptian monuments and took a lecture tour over several years in the United States to promote the cause. The Phantom Coach is a much anthologised story and it has some wonderful description. I think the story falls into three parts: lost on the Moors and despite what most commentators think, I suspect this is Northumberland rather than Yorkshire given what she says about the ‘far’ north of England. Despite that I have given Jacob a fudged Northern English accent which isn’t very Northumberland but draws on my native Cumbrian accent. The first part is well-done: lost. Then our man is found. He goes to a Victor Frankenstein type natural philosopher who has withdrawn from the world and lives with his alchemical and other vaguely occult thoughts, bitter that science has turned its back on spirits.  Frankenstein by Mary Shelly was published in 1818, so predating Amelia by a way. Madame Blavatsky who founded the Theosophical Society was born the same year as Amelia so maybe the occult was in the air.  The third part, which is a standard haunting story is very well described. The only connection I think it has with the Magus bloke in his remote house is that he has spoken about the reality of spirits: and here they are proved.  No real moral point in this week’s story. Unlike the later bleak works of the early 20th Century, there is a happy ending! Support Us! Ways to support Tony to keep doing the show: (Share and rate it!)  (Buy Tony a coffee) to help with the long nights editing! Become a  (Patreon) to get additional stuff and allow the show to go on in the long term.  Website   (Classic Ghost Stories Podcast)  Music Music is by the marvellous  (Heartwood Institute)
Episode 10: The October Game by Ray Bradbury
16-10-2019
Episode 10: The October Game by Ray Bradbury
#Ray Bradbury#  Is the most modern author we’ve read so far in the #Classic Ghost Story# podcast. He was born in Illinois in 1920 and died in 2012 in Los Angeles. His most famous book is Fahrenheit 451 which he wrote as a young man in 1953. This story is set in a Dystopian future where books are burned and the fireman set any alight they find. The title is due to the temperature at which paper will catch fire. Bradbury hinted that Farenheit 451 was a warning against totalitarian states and state censorship. He wrote it during the McCarthy era. Otherwise Bradbury seems to have had pretty reactionary views. But we digress. He also wrote #horror stories# and The October Game features in a collection called The October Country.  This is in fact a horror story. There’s nothing much supernatural about it but it is much anthologised in dark fiction collections.  We suspect pretty soon what’s going to happen (though maybe not its full extent) and Bradbury has the skill to draw us in as spectators to the inexorable train wreck that we can see but not stop. The narrator is pretty much wholly unpleasant. Sure, he didn’t get a son but even that play for our sympathy soon palls when we begin to suspect what monstrous horror he is going to enact against an innocent just to pay back his vile rage and sense of entitled injustice.  No, I didn’t like him.  Even so it was only when they were in the cellar I began to suspect just how appalling his act was going to be. The story structure is masterful. It drives from beginning to end on one track. It never deviates, just builds up the fascinated appalled concentration on The Husband. Yuk. I’ll read something nicer next week. In fact I already have, but I wanted to make sure you had this horror for Halloween. If you were helpful enough to do some or any of these following things for me, I would be immensely grateful. I swear down I would. ———————— Share the Podcast to your friends Rate the Podcast on Apple or elsewhere Buy me a coffee via (Paypal) Sign up as a Patron for $1 a month to keep me going on  (Patreon)  (Support the show) (
Episode 11: The Monkey's Paw by W W Jacobs
18-10-2019
Episode 11: The Monkey's Paw by W W Jacobs
The Monkey’s Paw was written by an English author W W Jacobs and published in 1902 in his collection The Lady of the Barge.  " (The Monkey's Paw)" "The Lady of the Barge" "Bill's Paper Chase" "The Well" "Cupboard Love" "In the Library" "Captain Rogers" "A Tiger's Skin" "A Mixed Proposal" "An Adulteration Act" "A Golden Venture" "Three at Table" The Monkey's Paw is the only one to have survived. It seems to have caught the public's imagination and that is perhaps because it is an archetypal morality tale and has themes of not tempting fate and being too proud, themes that go back to Ancient Greek theatre. Jacobs was born in London in 1863 and died in London during the Second World War in 1943. He was most known as a comedy writer in his time, but he also wrote #horror stories#, the most famous of which is this one: The Monkey’s Paw. As we seem to have some interest in the political views of our writers, we note that his wife was a Suffragette (votes for women in the UK) and he had left wing views as a young man but as an older man described himself as ‘conservative and individualistic’ The Monkey’s Paw has been made into a film a number of times, first in in 1915, 1923, 1933, and in 2016.  In 1928 it was made into a radio play and again 1988 which was rebroadcast in 1993 and then another version read by Christopher Lee was made in 2004! It’s a classic morality tale: don’t trust genies or other supernatural agents who promise you wishes, because it will all go wrong. Usually it’s because the wish twists things in a malevolent way like in this one, or the Genie or Mephistopheles takes you at your literal word.  They’re always out to trick you, don't you know. (The Monkey's Paw on Amazon) (Support the show) (
Episode 12: The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
25-10-2019
Episode 12: The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
#Edgar Allen Poe# Needs no real introduction. He was in some senses the man who began the horror genre. There had been Gothic fiction before but Poe made it macabre and strange. I see some influences or commonalities between him and the French poet Baudelaire with his Flowers of Evil, or the French novelist J K Huysman’s with his studies of Satanism and Decandence. The insanity in Poe is also matched in the Austrian writer Gustav Meyrink. I must read some Meyrink for you, though I’m not aware of any short stories of his. Tell Tale Heart is a first person story narrated by someone who is at pains to assure us that he is not crazy, though pretty much as soon as he says it, and certainly with a few sentences further said, we know he is. There is a view that it is the story of a perfect crime, but it seems far from that to me. It seems pretty unhinged. He is never going to get away with this crime. He buries the dismembered body under the planks of the floor. That is going to smell, believe me. Not that I know from personal experience. I had a bit of a disaster this week. I had recorded the English writer Robert Aickman with his longish Zombie story: Ringing the Changes, but the flipping computer packed in after 15 minutes. An hour later I found out the story hasn’t recorded except the first fifteen minutes. So I had nothing. I then recorded this one. I know, I think I know, (I sound like the man in the story) that listeners prefer longer stories that are American. This is short, but it is American which is a compromise.  If you were helpful enough to do some or any of these following things for me, I would be immensely grateful. I swear down I would. ———————— Share the Podcast to your friends Rate the Podcast on Apple or elsewhere Buy me a coffee via (Paypal) Sign up as a Patron for $1 a month to keep me going on  (Patreon)  (Support the show) (
Episode 13 (unlucky for some): The Tower by Marghatina Laski
31-10-2019
Episode 13 (unlucky for some): The Tower by Marghatina Laski
Consistently rated as one of top scary stories ever... #Marghanita Laski#  was an English journalist and author,  born in Manchester to a family of Jewish intellectuals.  She herself was an atheist and an advocate of nuclear disarmament. She was very intelligent and went to Oxford. She died in 1988 aged 67.  She later lived in London at Hampstead (where I’d like to live if I lived in London: the home of psychoanalysts and left-wing intellectuals).  Though popular and highly regarded in her day, a lot of Laski’s work is now out of print. This story: The Tower is consistently rated as one of the most ferrying ever written, even though it is pretty short. Because of that, I had to hunt down a copy and read it. I wasn’t terrified. There may be something I’m missing here. The story is well-written and the prose elegant. She conjures the picture of the upper middle class family life of a British Council official in Italy with only a few brush strokes. I read the story alone and late at night. I’d just watched a recent horror movie #A Dark Song#, which is about #black magic# and a lot scarier, but even so, with book and movie added together  I slept like a baby. I get the issue about the number of steps, but still, I don’t get it. Maybe I’m missing something. I get that she’s like Giovanna and she had fallen into the clutches of the evil black magician Niccolo and that like Giovanna: she is lost, she is damned as she descended into presumably hell… However, it did remind me of a scary episode I had. Once I was at (#Charleville Castle# )in Co. Offaly, #Ireland. I went there a lot of times on ghost hunts and horror events to be honest, but they had this ruined tower in the castle. I decided to climb up the spiral stone stair that went to the ruined top to see how far I could get.  There was no hand rail, just a drop and the steps were stone slabs coming out from the walls. One or two of them had come away, but you could step to the next. The the tower seemed to slope in and the slabs got narrower and narrower and the wall pressed in on me. Unlike Caroline, I realised I needed to turn back before I got to the top. So I turned and looked back at the narrow stone slabs and the huge drop and the missing steps and I panicked. But, like Caroline, I realised I just had to go down. No question about it. So, bricking it, as we say, I descended and got to the bottom. Not to hell. I believe I had a nice glass of wine after that. I quite fancy one now, but we’ve no alcohol in the house. If you figure out what’s so scary about The Tower, let me know If you were helpful enough to do some or any of these following things for me, I would be immensely grateful. I swear down I would. ———————— Share the Podcast to your friends Rate the Podcast on Apple or elsewhere Buy me a coffee via (Paypal) Sign up as a Patron for $1 a month to keep me going on  (Patreon)  (Support the show) (
Episode 14: Carmilla by J S Sheridan Le Fanu (Part One)
02-11-2019
Episode 14: Carmilla by J S Sheridan Le Fanu (Part One)
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu J S Le Fanu was born in Dublin to a family of mixed descent. His father’s line were French Huguenots hence the French surname. Like many horror and ghost story writers his father was actually a clergyman. He studied law as his career at Trinity College Dublin. He didn't actually live in Dublin at the time but you could do a kind of distance learning. He became editor of a literary magazine at this time. Le Fanu was active in the campaign to try and stir the British government to do something about the Irish famine. It didn’t work. He wrote in many genres he is most famous for his horror stories. But in general his horror stories are understated and emphasise atmosphere rather than pure horror. Carmilla is one of Le Fanu’s most famous stories. It is the prototypical Lesbian vampire novel. Possibly because of that it has become famous. This book of course was written at a time when Queen Victoria famously declared the ladies did not do such things. Not that they do in Carmilla either, they just get close, One of the charms of the story is it setting. It contains many of the romantic elements famous from Gothic fiction. It has the beautiful ancient and partly ruinous schloss in the middle of the Carinthian forest. I imagine that some of the descriptions of the two girls kissing and hugging was quite risque for its time. But it is perhaps because of this that Camilla has been made into films and adapted into different media across the years since its publication in 1872. Download Charles Dickens The Signalman Free Mp3  (Subscribe to our list and keep in touch with the podcast. Learn of new episodes and bonus Content. ) Support our work PLUS you get a free story right now! (The Story Link is in the Thank You Email) Show Your Support With A Coffee! (Buy the thirsty podcaster a coffee...) Final Request: The SurveyI want to know what you want. If you have three minutes, I'd be grateful to know what you think of The Classic Ghost Stories Podcast. (Click here to go to the Survey)
Epsode 16: Carmilla by J Sheridan Le Fanu (Part 3)
13-11-2019
Epsode 16: Carmilla by J Sheridan Le Fanu (Part 3)
Carmilla Part 3 Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu was born in Ireland in 1814. He was highly regarded both in his time and afterwards as a master of the ghost story genre. He wrote many wonderful stories, but here we focus on his vampire story Carmilla.  I think it's very interesting and a little amusing, that Joseph's father -- in common with many writers of ghost stories as it happens -- was a strict Protestant churchman.  I wonder whether Joseph Sheridan — or JT as I'm calling him — ever showed Carmilla , or read it aloud to his dad.  Le Fanu was a master of Gothic description, and in Carmilla his abilities are at their height.  For me one of the most engaging descriptions is that of the castle in the deep and inaccessible forest in Styria in Austria. It is almost poetic. We also have great descriptions of the graveyard at Castle Karnstein towards the end of the story and the masked ball scene which is related to us by the general also sounds splendid. The masked ball from Carmilla was borrowed and done very lushly in the movie Van Helsing where Kate Beckinsale, one of my favourite female vampires, looks lush indeed. Some of the sensuality between Camilla and the protagonist is described in almost erotic detail. I think that Le Fanu was not naive about this and , of course, he had to sell stories to make a living and he did this very well..  The stock characters such as the woodsman and the bizarre Baron Vordenburg who acts as a Van Helsing type vampire expert that comes in to solve all the problems towards the end, are both fun. In terms of the structure of this novella, I feel it could actually have been a novel. The ending to me was a little bit rushed. Camilla disappears and then it's sorted and fixed within minutes it seems.  As I was reading it my imagination extended it to as throughout Italy and Europe with Camilla visiting the protagonist in her bed and then hunting her much as the gang do in Dracula. That being said, there is a nice structure to the story in that almost the first thing that happens is that the expected female guest is now tragic tragic not coming giving a great disappointment to our Laura the protagonist. The general in his letter is very disturbed but we are not told why and so kept in suspense until the end when the General neatly appears, closing the circle of the story. I guess we anticipate something like this happening Next time I'm going to do something shorter and American I have in mind doing one of Russell Kirk stories. Although Kirk was an American writer and he set a lot of his ghost stories in England and there is one I want to do around Christmas so I'm debating whether to do that in an English or American accent. In terms of podcast business, we had a lovely review on iTunes from Gabby which I was delighted to read, so thank you Gabby for that. Reviews likes and shares are the lifeblood of the podcast and enable it to surge forward to ever increasing popularity which is my aim — obviously. I therefore politely but wholeheartedly encourage you to like, share and support the podcast. I think reading so much wordy Victorian stuff, influences one’s vocabulary! If you listen to podcasts in general you will be aware that the podcasters always make a play for you to join up and subscribe and support the podcast. I put the link down below just in case you fancy doing that. You may notice that I changed the podcast music; because I actually lost the original MP3 of the other so this is a royalty free one called Ben sounds scary music. Case I'm rambling again. I’ll have a story for you again next week. Download Charles Dickens The Signalman Free Mp3  (Subscribe to our list and keep in touch with the podcast. Learn of new episodes and bonus Content. ) Support our work PLUS you get a free story right now! (The Story Link is in the Thank You Email) Show Your Support
Episode 17: Behind the Stumps by Russell Kirk
16-11-2019
Episode 17: Behind the Stumps by Russell Kirk
Russell Kirk was born in 1918 in Plymouth, Michigan to a relatively modest family. He died in 1994, but between birth and death, he became arguably the foremost American theorist on Conservatism in his time. He wrote lots of books on political theory, but he also wrote ghost stories. I have a copy of his collection Ancestral Shadows. Kirk spent time in Scotland as a student at St Andrews and with a name like Kirk, he had some Scottish ancestry. A few of his stories are set in Kinross and Fife and others in England. He loved tradition and from his stories you see that he had respect for traditional spiritual values of Christianity. One of his first acclaimed stories was Behind the Stumps, and that’s why I’ve chosen to read it. This story has a lovely structure. First we get a description of Pottawattomie County. Then we learn how the government want to tax the folk there. Kirk was deeply conservative and disliked government, which comes out in the story. Next we get a detailed and well-drawn picture of Cribben, the tax enumerator. When that’s all done we set off to Bear City. Kirk paints nice portraits of the characters. We have Cribben of course but then the genial Matt Heddle as postmaster. Heddle is generally well-treated by Kirk, though he does say a couple of nasty things about him. Love the alcoholic hasn’t much of a role but we can picture him. Both Heddle and Love in their way are telling Cribben not to mess with the Gholsons. Love gives information about Cribben’s nemesis, though Cribben doesn’t listen. He’s too proud. Like all moral tales, he won’t mend his ways and therefore will be punished. There is an encounter with the main Gholson man in the street, who appears awful, but even he tells Cribben not to go near, specially on a Sunday and that foreshadows what Cribben is going to get. It also gives us the knowledge that Cribben’s heart is weak. This is to prepare us for the final scene so we understand how it happens. In the bleak scrubland which is reminiscent of Lovecraft’s ideas of the badlands of rural America where strange things go on since time immemorial. This is a folk-horror theme that we see in The Wicker Man, the Blood on Satan’s Claw, Witchfinder General and the recent Midsommar. He walks through the woods rather than taking the road. Usually that’s a sign that something bad will happen. You shouldn’t depart from well-trodden ways! But it doesn’t really. But he sees the house on the hill “indefinably mutiltated’. All the Gholsons, all the cats, hens etc, are absent from the farm. Some strange energy or power emanates from the farm where the old witch is housed undying. The young peasant girl watching is started by Cribben. I’m not sure what she represents, but I may be being slow here. Is it that the Gholsons themselves fear the house so they watch it? I guess that’s it. He looks at the house and sees that it is very odd. But he pays no heed. And then, fools rush in and Cribben enters the farm and you know what happens, all lovingly set up by Kirk for us to go aaah! to at the end. I guess that the old mother, who has no name, and who is neither dead nor alive is some kind of archetype. She is the devouring and life-giving mother (see how fertile the farm is).  She’s very fat — again to to with nurture. They’re terrified of her but fascinated. It’s all very Jungian. Don’t dream about this stuff. It’s unhealthy. Usual links: Support the Show! ( at our Spooky Pictures ( in touch via Twitter @classicghostst1 Music by The
Episode 18: The Old Nurse's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell
23-11-2019
Episode 18: The Old Nurse's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell
This story was written by Elizabeth Gaskell. Elizabeth Gaskell was born in 1810 in London and died aged  only 55 in 1865 in Hampshire. She was an accomplished novelist and with many successful novels in her time, but we are most interested in her ghost stories. She is one of the earliest writers that we have featured and I think you can tell that in the writing which seems a little archaic at times. An Old Nurse’s Story was published in 1852 and it is part of the Victorian tradition of Christmas ghost stories where the family would sit around the fire by candlelight and listen to ghost stories at Christmas. I think that is quite a delightful tradition and one that I would like to bring back. The Old Nurse’s Story features a lot of the Gothic tropes that we are familiar with. We have the castle or the grand old house which is so big and part of it uninhabited. It is set in a remote area. We've seen that Bram Stoker uses Transylvania while Joseph Le Fanu uses Styria in Austria. Even the far more modern Russell Kirk uses the backwoods of New England. What is amusing to me is that the remote trackless area that Elizabeth Gaskell uses is in fact my home region and I'm very familiar with the fells of Cumberland and Westmorland and Northumberland. It's ironic that I was more self-conscious of doing the accent and I think rather than having my own native Cumbrian accent I sounded a bit Yorkshire. It is actually quite a magnificent story and in common with many of the Victorian ghost stories Elizabeth Gaskell spends a lot of time describing the scenery. So we have a very clear picture of the huge and gloomy mansion. We have very romantic ghosts and in common with many ghost stories this is a moral tale. The older lady Miss Furnival pays in age for the sins of pride that she committed when she was young. The story winds towards its ending in quite a direct way but there wasn't any time when I was reading it that I thought that any part of it was surplus. I plan to do a series of Christmas ghost stories as we get closer to Christmas. This one isn't technically a Christmas ghost story but it is very wintry with snow and  cold. In terms of what I'm up to at the moment. We are quite busy with our ghost story evenings tour around in about the place. I am also editing an audiobook of my own which is the Cumbrian ghost stories, although this podcast gets in the way of doing that. I have a small volume of Christmas ghost stories out on Amazon which is selling quite well. It's a slim volume of three stories  and there is an audiobook to go along with it if you fancied getting a copy of that from Audible. It seems the podcast goes from strength to strength and a number of listeners is increasing which is great news. We had another anonymous five star review on Apple podcasts but I'm not complaining because it was anonymous. In fact, thank you to the anonymous person who wrote that As always I wouldn’t treat you to like share and rate the podcast however you choose to listen to it. You can always support the podcast via (Patreon) and I’ve got a new link to (Kofi) so you can buy me a cup of coffee and there is no ongoing payment involved or commitment. I'm still looking for suggestions for stories to read after Christmas so please drop me a line through Twitter. On Instagram also.  The music is by the Heartwood Institute so go and get copies of that on (Bandcamp) Here’s my Twitter @classicghostst1 Instagram is (Classicghoststoriespodcast) You can buy individual stories at (Support the show) (
Episode 19: The Snow by Hugh Walpole
30-11-2019
Episode 19: The Snow by Hugh Walpole
Hugh Walpole was an English novelist born in New Zealand in 1884 and died in June 1941. His father was a clergyman and he was intended originally for a career as a clergyman but he  preferred writing and wrote his first novel in 1909. He was a prolific writer and wrote a novel a year. In common with many writers of ghost stories he was actually gay. He ended up living in the English Lake District not far from where I am now. And I often drive by his house. I have a particular tradition of driving on that side of the lake on New Year's Eve and looking down at the Christmas lights from the heights. The house certainly has a wonderful view and I would quite like to live there though I could never afford it. He ended up living with a policeman at the time when such things were illegal in England. Reading The Snow particularly after reading a number of Victorian novels, I found the style refreshingly modern and so it was actually quite easy to read. It presents a snapshot of upper-class English life in the provinces. Walpole  settled in Cumberland and though he gives his Cathedral town a made up name I can't help but see the Cathedral precincts of Carlisle Cathedral when he's describing the scene. Alice Ryder seems a vain, selfish, cruel woman, and certainly the first time I read the story, I thought she got her just deserts. But then when editing the audio, I came to the part where she speculates that the ghost of Elinor might in fact be there hovering about, and causing her to lose her temper with Herbert. And then I gained a little sympathy for her. Then again, the ghost warns her not to lose her temper with Herbert because if she does, it will be for the last time.  And what do you know - she goes on and loses her temper. Herbert maintains his quiet dignity and is rather a sympathetic character.  Though Alice Ryder is portrayed as quite the bitch, the first Mrs Ryder was no saint either. Herbert tells Alice that his first wife Elinor would never let go and though she adored him, he hinted that her tenacious fidelity was a bit overbearing. So which of the Mrs Ryders is the real villain here? Is it the young, vain, bitchy Mrs Ryder or the controlling unforgiving elder one? This week’s story was quite short compared with usual and recent ones but I enjoyed it nevertheless. I have been very busy in my life and I know that this week coming up I will be in London for three days so I wanted to get this in the can. One of the things we're going to do when we are there In London is to see the adaptation of (Ghost Stories )which is supposed to be very scary and is the talk of the West End. I'm not sure it has been to Broadway but I'm sure it has. It premiered in Liverpool. So that's it for this week remember the music is by the heart Institute and I'll put a link to that just below. You can buy me a coffee to the coffee app or you could just write and like the podcast on Apple podcast or stitcher or which ever podcast server you use. Go listen to music by (Heartwood Institute) You could by me a (Kofi) We also have some merch now! (A mug!) (Two T-shirts) Or you can rate, review and share the Podcast! Ta. Tata for Now Tony (Support the show) (