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Add a Ghostly Chill to Your Christmas

“‘Tis when the shadows lengthen and the days grow oh so short that long forgotten, univited, ghosts do come to call” – Andi Brooks (Ghost Stories for Christmas, Volume One)

Christmas is coming! It’s time to trim the tree and deck the halls before gathering around the roaring Yule log with a bowl of mulled wine to pass the long winter evening with tales of blood-curdling ghostly visitations. The telling of ghost stories at winter is tradition whose origins are lost in the mists of time. It certainly predates Christmas and can be seen to have some of its roots in pagan beliefs and celebrations of the winter solstice, a time of death and rebirth. With its short days and long, dark nights, winter is the perfect setting not only for the telling of ghost stories, but for the stories themselves. It is a time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, allowing all manner of spirits to cross over into our world.

The Victorian era heralded a revival and a new golden age of the winter tale, reinvented, in no small part thanks to Charles Dickens and his classic novella A Christmas Carol, as the Christmas ghost story. The story didn’t have to be set at Christmas, although that would certainly add spice to the proceedings. M. R. James, lauded as the greatest writer of ghost stories in the English language, choose Christmas as a time to tell his stories to undergraduates at Kings’ College, Cambridge, in the 1890s, although only one of his stories was actually set during Christmas.

From the Victorian era through to the early twentieth century, Christmas editions of newspapers and magazines regularly carried at least one Christmas ghost story, some penned by famous writers, others by writers now lost to history. Many of these stories became classics of the genre, others have lain unread upon the mouldering pages of long forgotten publications. It is to these original versions that I turned my attention while preparing Ghost Stories For Christmas, Volume One. The first installment in a series which will see a new volume published each year over the next six years, features thirty stories spanning the years 1820-1929 from writers as illustrious as Washington Irving, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, alongside writers such as Augustus Cheltenham of whom nothing is known other than the few published stories he left behind. Where possible, I have also included the illustrations which accompanied the stories. Not all of the stories are horrific. The Victorians were great sentimentalists, and this is reflected in a selection of stories intended to bring a tear to the eye. Elsewhere, there are amusing tongue-in-cheek tales, but the majority of the stories will satisfy those in search of a ghoulish thrill this Christmas. Ghost Stories For Christmas, Volume One is available in paperback and Kindle from all Amazon marketplaces.


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