Saturday, May 18, 2019

Book cover: "Haunted Britain"

Mom loved "true-story" ghost books. She was in her early 20s in the early 1970s and had a fair collection of the likes of Hans Holzer and Susy Smith paperbacks. She was also fascinated with the United Kingdom, perhaps the ghostiest place of all, and had several books related to the ghosts and folklore of its various haunted grounds. She held onto these books long enough for me to discover — and become equally fascinated by — them in the late 1970s and early 1980s. One that I especially loved, partly for the spooky photos, was this volume. So I tracked down my own copy earlier this decade.

  • Title: Haunted Britain
  • Author: Antony D. Hippisley Coxe
  • Is that the most British name ever on Papergreat? Probably
  • What else did he write? Performance and Politics in Popular Drama; Classical And Circus High School; A Book About Smuggling in the West Country, 1700-1850; and — I kid you not — The Great Book of Sausages.1
  • Photographer: Robert Estall
  • House editor: Penelope Miller
  • Designer: George Sharp
  • Cartographer: John R. Flower
  • Indexer: Gerry Miller
  • Publisher: Pan Books Ltd.
  • Publication year: 1975 (Book was originally published in 1973 by Hutchinson & Co. I believe that's a hardcover.)
  • Original prices: £1.50 in the United Kingdom, $4.30 in Australia, $4.10 in New Zealand, $5.95 in Canada. (£1.50 in 1975 is the equivalent to about £14.88 today, which is equivalent to about $18.92.)
  • Pages: 201 (plus numerous maps after the final numbered page)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Front cover blurb: "A guide to the supernatural in England, Scotland and Wales"
  • Back cover blurb: "A unique collection of the uncanny and astonishing phenomena that may be found in haunted Britain."
  • Title page blurb: "A guide to the supernatural sites frequented by ghosts, witches, poltergeists and other mysterious beings"
  • Dedication: For Araminta remembering the occasional alarums and many excursions we have shared
  • First sentence of preface: This is a guidebook to places about which people hold some strange belief.
  • First sentence of book proper: The Duchy is as packed full of beliefs as a can is of Cornish pilchards.
  • What's a pilchard: "A small, edible, commercially valuable marine fish of the herring family."
  • So, a sardine? Basically.
  • Last sentence: The Colstoun Pear is supposed to keep the family lands intact and is still in the Broun-Lindsay family who alone can lay eyes on it.
  • Random sentence from the middle: Prehistoric ghosts are rare, but many people, including a highly respected archaeologist, have seen the Bronze Age horseman who haunts these parts.
  • Goodreads rating: 4.10 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review: In 2016, Jonathan Farley called the book "an entertaining gazetteer of ghosts around Britain."
  • Amazon rating: 5.0 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon review excerpt: In 2014, Courtney wrote: "Instead of elaborating on the stories or offering theories about the supernatural, the book offers concise, matter-of-fact little snippets; it's arranged as the usual travel guide, region by region, with suggestions for day drives. ... Whether you're planning a trip to England in your daydreams or for real, you'll love browsing this book."

But wait, there's more

As a kid, I loved the visual aspects of this book. It had a system of symbols to describe each site. And the photograpy — some original and some from archives — was creepy and unsettling. Here are some peeks...

Hey, it's the ghost of Raynham Hall!

Mom and I loved this one. The caption states: "Spot the ghosts in this photograph taken by a former employee at Downe Court Manor. According to the owner, eleven phantoms are visible: Charles Darwin, a blackamoor in a three-cornered hat, a Cavalier, a Miss Smith, half a dozen faces, and a girl with a long plait.

Sausage footnote
1. The Great Book of Sausages does not have great reviews. Here are some from Amazon:
  • Under-cooked Book
  • What's not in this book? Any useful information on making or cooking sausages.
  • This was by far the biggest waste of my time and money that I have ever ordered for myself. This isn't the great book of anything.
  • The not-so-great sausage book

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