Sunday, April 26, 2020

Book signed by a "ghost"

Here's a fun tidbit I stumbled across while surfing the internet a while back. It's a page from an autographed copy of the 1969 book 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey, by journalist, folklorist and storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham (1918-2011). As you can see, the book is signed by Windham and also by Jeffrey.

"Jeffrey" is a ghost.

Windham was a bit of an American treasure. She began reviewing movies for her hometown newspaper in Alabama at age 12. At the same time, she also started photographing life in her rural area with her Brownie box camera. According to Wikipedia, after she graduated from college she became the first woman journalist for the Alabama Journal.

But she was interested in more than journalism. She preserved the local color of her state through the stories and folklore she collected and passed down.

And part of that folklore involved ghost stories.

13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey was the first of Windham's ghost-tale collections. Her 2011 obituary in The New York Times notes: "The name Jeffrey appears in the title of seven of Ms. Windham’s ghost books — a nod to the apparition that apparently occupied the Windham home." Indeed, Wikipedia further adds: "Windham became interested in ghost stories after this ghost began to haunt her family [in October 1965]. At first, the family heard footsteps in rooms that would later be found empty. Sometimes, objects had been moved."

It was all in good fun. The New York Times obituary quotes Windham as saying this later in life: "Actually, I’ve never seen a ghost. Do they exist or don’t they exist? That’s something you can decide for yourself. Good ghost stories do not require that you believe in ghosts.

And good ghost stories outlast their tellers. The Windham website,, is where you can learn more about Windham and her works. It's a wonderful site ... and if you linger just a little, you might even discover Jeffrey. Unless he discovers you first.

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