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Classic Ghost Stories

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.

165 - The Milk White Child of Ravenglass by Tony Walker
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  • 165 - The Milk White Child of Ravenglass by Tony Walker

    The Milk-White Child of Ravenglass by Tony Walker, is one of mine. As I explain in the notes, this is one of my More Cumbrian Ghost Stories book. You can purchase the full book or audiobook (just saying, if you were so inclined, and you liked this one, well maybe you'd like the rest?) Check out the Ko-Fi link. I think it's there. I'm giving you this because I'm off on my hols soon so I will schedule this to come out while I'm away. Yes, there's a Romantic theme to it. Yes it includes the good people. So I'd been reading Wordsworth and Arthur Machen at the time. I was all Romanticked up. I like stories of the fey, fae, whatever you call them. Do I believe in them? That would be telling. If You Appreciate The Work I’ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a free audiobook: https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)

    Fri, 05 Aug 2022 - 39min
  • 164 - The Entrance by Gerald Durrell

    The Entrance by Gerald Durrell Gerald Durrell was born in Jamshedpur which was then part of British India, in 1925 and died in St Hellier, Jersey in 1995, aged 70. This story, The Entrance was published in his collection The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium in 1979. This title was renamed The Picnic and Other Inimitable Stories though I suspect that someone who didn’t understand the word pandemonium would struggle with inimitable too. But that’s marketing for you. His family’s life has been the subject of a popular TV series “My Family and Other Animals” taken from the title of one of his books. He was a prolific writer, usually of light, comic fiction and autobiography and a life-long animal lover who set up the Jersey Zoo. Those of you who read these notes will probably predict offended comments about animals being hurt in The Entrance and how zoos are bad. My only comments are: it’s fiction. There were no animals, and; attitudes change over times. I don’t think he set up a zoo because he was a wicked man who wanted to hurt animals. Zoos were uncontroversial once. Those who don’t make comments on videos expressing their hurt and offence probably won’t read the notes. Durrell’s famous siblings is the author and poet Lawrence Durrell. In his early years, as his family were middle class and British, he had an Indian nurse called an ayah. He ascribes his lifelong love of animals to a visit to a zoo when he was small in India. The family moved to the Crystal Palace area of London (with its concrete dinosaurs) and he avoided going to school by pretending to be ill. In 1939 the family moved to Corfu, Grreece and Durrell began to build his menagerie. This period of his life was an inspiration of his many books. Because of the Second World War, the family moved back to England and he ended up working in an aquarium and a pet store. He was not medically fit to be a soldier but ended up working on a farm. After the war he went to work at Whipsnade Zoo. After that, he got a job collecting animals for zoos by visiting Africa and South America. He was known for treating his animals well, which caused him financial difficulties . He founded his own zoo in Jersey in 1959. The EntranceThe Entrance was recommended to me by Alison Waddell. It is a frame story and thus hearkens back to the classic ghost story tales which are often told as frames and often feature old, occult manuscripts. Gerald Durrell goes to meet his charming, slightly comic friends in Provence. They hand him a manuscript they found in Marseilles that belonged to a strange man called Dr Le Pitre. Dr Le Pitre is another layer to the story that seems quite unnecessary to me, but I might be missing something. The manuscript dated as March 16th 1901 features a lengthy set up of a Victorian (the old queen died on 22 January 1901, but her influence lingered a few months at least) antiquarian book dealer (very M R James) who is stalked by a strange foreigner on a foggy night in London (so far so trope, and I suspect that Durrell was doing this to play with the genre). He gets a mysterious warning from his friend about the family, but becomes great mates with this aristocratic frenchman. Ultimately we see that this was a grift and Durrell drops a few ominous sentences along the lines of “If I knew then what I know now”. “That was my gravest mistake” which sort of spoilt the surprise of the twist at the end. But it’s full Gothic. Alone in an ancient chateau in terrible weather, cut off by snow with a lurking monster in the mirrors. Instead of strange old servitors he has some friendly animals. Again he can’t help himself intruding the comic parrot and friendly cat and dog. The canaries don’t get a speaking part. I wondered how such a monster kept such happy pets? In fact we have pea soup fog in London, thunder and lightning in Provence and heavy snow in Gorge du Tarn. Classic stuff. I am guessing that young Gideon resisted...

    Fri, 29 Jul 2022 - 2h 24min
  • 163 - The Nameless Offspring by Clark Ashton Smith

    Clark Ashton Smith Clark Ashton Smith was an American writer born in Long Valley, California in 1893 who died in Pacific Grove, California in 1961, aged 68. They are actually four hundred and twenty eight miles apart which is longer than the whole of England. For comparison I have only made two hundred yards from the place I was born to the place I now live. He lived most of his life in the small town of Auburn, California. He was madly neurotic, agoraphobic and as with Lovecraft, the existential unease he no doubt felt in life, intrudes into his stories, giving them their unsettling quality, I would guess. Because of his nerves, he was educated at home and was intelligent with a fantastic memory and educated himself by reading, including The Encyclopaedia Britannica all volumes cover to cover more than once. He taught himself French and Spanish and translated poetry from those languages, including Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil. Naturally. Clark was a weird poet and one of the now defunct West Coast Romantics. I can see him playing guitar for Mazzy Star (if he’d been spared). He was one of the ‘big three’ authors of Weird Tales, the others being Robert E Howard and H P Lovecraft. As a teen (though in those days I wouldn’t have been familiar with that word) I lapped up all three, though I preferred Ashton Smith. There is something more poetic and less rude about his style than either the barbarous, muscle-bound stories of Howard and the off-kilter, prolix and baroque tales of H P. Though, as I say, I read them all, aye. All. We have done an Ashton Smith story before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSkA3Hq8qIU (The Maker of Gargoyles). This story: The Nameless Offspring is another tomb story. We seem to have done a run of these recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pSp2_ZPOyA (The Catacomb), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC9epxbb-JU (The Secret of The Vault). And previously we did The https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC-kCEb_oTE (Fall of the House of Usher). It was published in Strange Tales in 1932, and in those days publishing in these pulp magazine was the standard process. Many of the writers of pulps purveyed Cosmic Horror. Of course the primary voice here is H P Lovecraft and his taste seems to have stamped itself on his followers and his approval, given them a significant advantage. Lovecraft was a great admirer of Ashton Smith. You will recall that to write a classic story in this period: first set it somewhere obscure either in time or distance from your average reader> Make the weather bad. Have a gothic edifice: a castle, though in this case and old (Cornish from the name) Manor House will do. Have an aged retainer, an obscure history that is not fully discussed, an aristocrat, poor light then you just need a monster and you’re on. This tale has it all. And let’s face it what Hollywood producers say (though not to me) ‘We want more of the same, but different.” This is what we have. Smith is great with descriptions. I prefer his prose to Lovecraft. IT was the fashion to use obscure words and lots of them, but he does it in a less awkward way than Lovecraft and one that is not as open to parody. The story begins with a little background that makes sense of what is to follow along with a warning that he never foresaw the terrible truth, etc. he goes on a trip and inadvertently comes across the evil Tremoth Hall. How likely is that actually? The place receives few visitors in common with nearly every Manor House in all the stories we have read. None of them are open to the National Trust. I read one recently by Sarah Perry (author of Melnoth the Wanderer and the Essex Serpent) in a collection by English Heritage, that had as its scene a historic property open to the public, though the action there happened when the public were not present. The horrible history is not too hidden, but what is well done is the weird scratching that grows and...

    Fri, 22 Jul 2022 - 1h 09min
  • 162 - The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe

    The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe The Masque of the Red Death was published in 1842 by Edgar Allan Poe in Graham’s Magazine. He was paid $12 for it. There is an app on the internet to tell you the value of money today and that calculates $12 in 1842 is worth $482 today. That is £353 Sterling, or £4,236 Scots. Good money in anyone’s book for a 16 minute story. It was made into a film in 1964, starring Vincent Price. As any brief study will tell you, it follows the conventions of Gothic fiction: it’s set in a castle (in fact a castellated abbey so two for the price of one) At the time of the story, Poe’s wife was suffering from tuberculosis and would be coughing blood most likely, and this image may have inspired (if that is a suitable word) the imagery of the story. People have wondered what the actual disease was - bubonic plague or tuberculosis or maybe Ebola virus, but in fact I think it’s most likely he just made it up. There have been many attempts at understanding why there were seven rooms and the meaning of the colours. It may be because he liked the imagery, but of course why did he like the imagery? What subconscious needs and desires do the colours represent. Discuss at your leisure. The story is about how even kings may not escape death, despite their pride and majesty and as such it reminds me of Oxymandias by Shelley and the Dog In Durer’s Etching story we did by Marco Denevi. It’s a very neat story structure. Introduce Red Death, introduce Prospero. He retreats from the world, describe the abbey. Now the Masquerade Ball. Now entry of Death. Now he’s dead. Finish. 16 minutes. What’s with the Ebony Clock? Perhaps counting down like a drum roll to increase suspense? Who knows? If You Appreciate The Work I’ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a free audiobook: https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***)

    Fri, 15 Jul 2022 - 36min
  • 161 - The Eye of The Cat by Ruskin Bond

    Ruskin Bond Ruskin Bond was born in 1934 in Kasauli in Punjab, India. His first novel was published when he was 22, A Room on the Roof and it won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. He specialised in short stories of which he wrote more than five hundred. He lives in Mussoorie. Bond was born when India was part of the British Empire.. His father taught English to the Indian princesses of the Indian princely state of Nawanagar and bond lived with his family at the palace when he was a boy. At the beginning of the Second World War, his father Aubrey Alexander Bond joined the Royal Air Force. When Ruskin was only eight his father left his mother Edith Clarke and married an Indian, Hindu woman called Hari. (In the story, which has lots of autobiographical details, he says it was his mother who married an Indian man after his father died). His father arranged for him to come to New Delhi where he was posted and Ruskin was happy there and describes his childhood as magical. But his father died during the War when Ruskin was only 10. He went to an English style boarding school in Shimla and won a number of writing prizes when he was there. After finishing at Shimla he went to the Channel Islands (close to the French Coast but a possession of the English Crown) because his aunt lived there. He then went to London and worked in a photo studio. When his first novel was a success he used the money to pay his fare back to India. He worked as a writer there and has been a writer ever since. Despite his British ancestry he feels India. He has said about being Indian that race did not make him one, religion did not make him one, but history did. Most of his works deal with small town India, particularly the hill stations where he grew up. He has described small town India as his India. If You Appreciate The Work I’ve Put In Here You could buy me a coffee https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker (https://ko-fi.com/tonywalker) Become a Patronhttps://www.patreon.com/barcud (https://www.patreon.com/barcud) And you can join my mailing list and get a free audiobook: https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire (https://bit.ly/dalstonvampire) Music By The Heartwood Institute https://bit.ly/somecomeback*** (https://bit.ly/somecomeback***) Most of Ruskin’s stories aren’t ghost stories though he admits a fondness for the work of Lafcadio Haearn, an Irish writer who settled in Japan via the USA and specialised in ghost stories with a Japanese background.

    Fri, 08 Jul 2022 - 46min
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