The reason I bought a Kindle a couple of weeks ago is that I’ve decided to start publishing on it! I’ve launched an imprint called Apparition, tying in with my app development work.
This first book is chock-full of some of the finest, scariest, most bizarre and fascinating true ghost encounters you’re ever likely to read. They all come from the works of George Frederick Lee, a pioneering paranornal researcher whose work is sadly neglected. There is a reason for this (as you’ll learn if you read on) but the result is that very few of his stories have gained wider currency. How the title story, about hideously transformed spirits clawing their way out of the ground to terrify an isolated farmhouse, has escaped attention before now escapes me. Most of the stories are from the UK but many are from the USA and beyond. One of my favourites comes from New Orleans and involves the ghost of a little old woman who seemed to have the power to convince people to hang themseleves. Charming!
I shall be plugging ‘The Horror of Gyb Farm’ shamelessly for a while. The current price is £2.58 including VAT which is jolly good value considering how strong the stories are and how long it took me to unearth all these nuggets (and indeed the cost of the scarce editions themselves)! Below I reproduce a chunk from my introduction to the book, should you be interested in learning more. And here’s the link to the Kindle store: http://is.gd/mKjUEU
From the introduction:
“F G Lee (1832-1902) wrote four books on the supernatural: Glimpses of the Supernatural (also known as The World Unseen), published in 1875; More Glimpses of the World Unseen, 1878; Glimpses in the Twilight, 1885; and Sights and Shadows, Being Examples of the Supernatural, 1894.
“These four works are stuffed full of some of the most impressively dramatic and eerie accounts of ghostly phenomena recorded anywhere. They include a ghost in the form of a head with bat-like wings; another in the form of a black dog being ridden by a ‘monster’; the spirit of a little old lady gleefully urging people to commit suicide; a ghost which threw hand-spikes at sailors on a haunted ship; another which systematically destroyed a house; and the title story I have given to this collection, in which hideous, wailing ‘boneless’ things are seen emerging from a mass grave.
“Most of Lee’s ghost stories are unique to his books. Only one or two, such as the peculiar ‘Spectral Bird of West Drayton’, have gained wider currency in the works of later authors. There are so many cheap paperback and digital editions of classic works on ghosts and folklore that it seems remarkable Lee’s books should have been so neglected. Years ago I managed to track down three of these books in their original editions (and they were quite expensive!), but in order to compile this title, I had to resort to one print-on-demand copy (a facsimile of the first edition), so rare have Lee’s books become.
“There is an explanation for this obscurity, however. Lee’s ‘ghost books’ aren’t exclusively about the supernatural: in essence they are in fact works of theology. F G Lee was a clergyman, an Anglican priest who for many years held the post of Vicar of Lambeth, in London. He held strong opinions on Christian doctrine and ritual which got him in trouble with his superiors during his early career. In the 1850s, with a prominent Roman Catholic, he founded the Association for the Promotion of the Union of Christendom, intended to encourage an integration of the Anglican and Catholic faiths. After his retirement and a year before his death, Lee – always ‘High Church’ – converted to Catholicism.
“F G Lee wrote numerous books, essays and sermons promoting his ideas on Christian doctrine and also several notable works on the history of the church in England. These earned him an honorary Doctor of Divinity from an American University. The examples of the supernatural Lee recounts in the Glimpses books and Sights and Shadows – including ghosts, witchcraft, demonology, omens, prophetic dreams and angelic intervention – are all there to support some theological argument. Typically, he maintains that such phenomena are all manifestations of God’s universe than the one we are normally able to comprehend. This philosophy was one taken by a number of writers centuries before Dr Lee, when it was known by the tongue-twisting name of ‘Anti-Sadduceeism’.
“F G Lee’s four books on the supernatural have been unfairly neglected because the stories have been buried in theological discourse, which makes reading them hard-going for ghost fans, including myself. For this reason I have taken on the task of extracting the spooky nuggets and presenting them to a wider audience.
“At the end of each story I have referenced the book title and the page number/s should you wish to track down the originals. Where possible I have also provided further explanatory details, such as the source Lee gives for each account. Lee rarely gives his stories titles, so most of those in this volume have been created by me. I am also responsible for the chapter headings and the organisation of the stories. Aside from removing extraneous information and breaking up some lengthy paragraphs from time to time, I have left the accounts much as they appear in Lee’s books. I have not sought to tidy up clunky dialogue or modernise the style.
“The vast majority of Lee’s accounts are only to be found in his books. A handful are repeated from even older hard-to-find works and a few more provide fresh information on well-known stories, such as that of the haunted house in Berkeley Square. For this reason they are of enormous interest to the ghost fan.
“As you will discover, however, most of the stories you’re about to read are unique. Not only are they unique, they are by turns intriguing, terrifying, moving and grotesque. The dramatic incidents they describe earn many of them the status of classics. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I did the first time I was lucky enough to encounter them in the works of Frederick George Lee.”