Sunday, October 27, 2019

Halloween 2019 book cover:
"Haunted England"

In counting down the final few days to All Hallows' Eve, I have some appropriately spooktastic books to share...

  • Title: Haunted England
  • Subtitle: A Survey of English Ghost-Lore
  • Author: Christina Hole (1896-1985)
  • Dust jacket designer: Lynton Lamb (1907-1977)
  • Illustrator: John Farleigh (1900-1965)
  • Publisher: B.T. Batsford Ltd.
  • Original publication year: 1940
  • Publication date of this edition: 1951 (Second Edition, Third Impression)
  • Dust jacket price: 13 shillings, 6 pence
  • Pages: 184
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Dust jacket blurb #1: "This is far and away the best ghost book I have ever met, as Miss Hole is thorough, careful and completely unbiased." ⁠— The Queen
  • Wait. The Queen?? Well, this edition was published in 1951, so it cannot be Elizabeth II, because her reign did not begin until 1952. The most logical guess is that there was some sort of UK publication titled "The Queen."
  • Dust jacket blurb #2: "With its infinite variety of ghostly manifestations it should appeal strongly to the ordinary reader." — The Scotsman
  • First sentence: Belief in ghosts is almost as old as the human race.
  • Last sentence: The study of ghost-lore suggests that some places area nearer the edge of the spiritual world than others; and here, perhaps, lies the only explanation as yet available of Borley's curious history.
  • Random sentence from middle: She had a secret room prepared against emergencies which was reached by a concealed staircase in the kitchen chimney.
  • Review excerpt #1: Dodwell wrote this on in 2013: "I bought a copy of this work, in 1966 from a junk shop, for the princely sum of two shillings (20 pence) and I still have it now. It is full of tales, ghostly and ghastly, from all of the shires of England; ghosts of the great and unknown ghosts fill its pages. Written in an easy, lucid style by an author who obviously felt a great affection for the folklore of England, so much so, that this affection shines through in every chapter."
  • Review excerpt #2: The Wolf wrote this on in 2017: "Christina Hole's English spookfest, with terrific illustrations by John Farleigh, still has the power to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck."
  • About the author: Christina Hole was a member of The Folklore Society and her other notable books include A Dictionary of British Folk Customs, English Folklore, English Home-Life 1500 to 1800, and Witchcraft in England. On the website England: The Other Within, Alison Petch noted that Hole "might have been considered by some rather eccentric — according to the obituary she refused to have a telephone installed in her home even though it would have made her honorary duties easier and was 'surrounded by well-behaved cats whose idiosyncracies gave [her] great pleasure.'"

But wait, there's more

Tucked away inside the book was a dandy 1955 National Tuberculosis Association Christmas Seals bookmark. It's shown below, along with a couple of John Farleigh's interior illustrations. In 2011, the blog Uncanny UK, edited by Richard Holland, had this to say about Farleigh's work: "The other attraction of ‘Haunted England’ are its numerous weird illustrations. The illustrator, John Farleigh, was well-known in his day both as a fine artists and as a commercial artists, for example for London Transport. He was best-known as a wood engraver. The images he created for ‘Haunted England’ are like no other gracing a work of this kind: often abstract, with distorted perspectives, they are nightmarish yet oddly child-like – and certainly memorable."

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