Thursday, 5 March 2015

World Book Day - An Important Tome For Me

As it is World Book Day, I thought I'd share with you all one of my most beloved tomes. It's a book that used to be my grandfather's and I vividly remember as a young child, when visiting my grandparents, taking it off the shelf to sneak a peek at the evocative illustrations. And later when I was little older being thrilled by the line-up of famous writers in its contents, not to mnetion being intrigued by the Sealed Section at the back that contained the most terrifying tales. 

This gorgeous thick leatherbound tome is The Mammoth Book of Thrillers, Ghosts & Mysteries, published in 1936 by Odhams. It was edited by Messrs. J. M. Parrish and John R. Crosslands, who selected a very fine array of tales and top notch authors as you will now see - 

A. J. Alan – The Diver
Michael Arlen – The Ghoul Of Golders Green
Arnold Bennett – The Murder Of The Mandarin
J. D. Beresford – Powers Of The Air
Algernon Blackwood – Keeping His Promise
Gerald Bullett – Dearth’s Farm
G. K. Chesterton – The Hammer of God
Agatha Christie – The Blue Geranium
Joseph Conrad – The Secret Sharer
A. E. Coppard – The Tiger
Walter De La Mare – The Looking Glass
Guy De Maupassant – The Hostelry
Lord Dunsany – A Large Diamond
Jeffrey Farnol – The Cupboard
J. S. Fletcher – The Other Sense
Pamela Hansford Johnson – Ghost Of Honour
O. Henry – Roads Of Destiny
C. D. Heriot – The Trapdoor
C. F. Hoffman – Ben Blower’s Story
Tom Hood – The Shadow of A Shade
Aldous Huxley – The Dwarfs
Washington Irving – Guests From Gibbet Island
M. R. James – The Mezzotint
Jerome K. Jerome – The Dancing Partner
D. H. Lawrence – The Woman Who Rode Away
Somerset Maugham – Honolulu
Oliver Onions – Rooum
Barry Pain – The Green Light
Eden Phillpotts – The Iron Pineapple
J. B. Priestly – The Demon King
Alexander Pushkin – The Queen Of Spades
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch – The Seventh Man
Saki – Laura
W. B. Seabrook – Goat-Cry, Girl-Cry
May Sinclair – The Mahatma’s Story
H. De Vere Stacpool – Deep In The Forest
R. L. Stevenson – The Island Of Voices
Edgar Wallace – Man Of The Night
Hugh Walpole – Major Wilbraham
H. G. Wells – The Inexperienced Ghost
Rebecca West – The Salt Of The Earth
Anon – A Tale Of A Gas-Light Ghost

The Inexperienced Ghost by HG Wells, illustrated by FG Moorsom

And in the tantalizing Sealed Section we had this selection of spinechillers - 

E. F. Benson – The Confession Of Charles Linkworth
Ambrose Bierce – The Moonlit Road
L. P. Hartley – A Visitor From Down Under
W. H. Hodgson – The Voice In The Night
W. W. Jacobs – His Brother’s Keeper
Edgar Allen Poe – Berenice
A. E. D. Smith – The Coat
Bram Stoker – The Squaw
P. C. Wren – Presentiments

Keeping His Promise by Algernon Blackwood, illustrated by Lampitt

And backing up the excellent choice of stories were a fine roster of artists who delivered atmospheric and intriguing illustrations of the tales in gorgeous pen and ink. 

The Mezzotint by MR James, illustrated by Clive Uptton

The volume was later reissued in a cheap paperback as Great Ghost Stories by Chancellor in 2005, with a handful of tales trimmed from it and sadly lacking the illustrations. Therefore I would recommend tracking down the original edition if you can. 

This is a truly wonderful book. Obviously I have a huge personal connection to it, and I treasure it as a link to my grandfather who died when I was very young and hence never really knew. But more than that, this is truly a book made for book lovers - not only handsomely bound and lavishly illustrated, but packed with great tales by great writers, serving up a hearty mix of old favourites, undoubted classics and undiscovered gems. In its pages I discovered so many great tales and fantastic authors, indded to this day I'm still tracking down stories from authors contained within it. My granddad had this book on a shelf within reaching distance of his armchair by the fire, and today it lives in a similar position in my own home. 

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