Thurnley Abbey

8 Sep

Perceval Landon (1868-1927) was an English writer and journalist, now best remembered for his classic and much reprinted ghost story Thurnley Abbey.  Well known to ghost story connoisseurs, Thurnley Abbey is a true classic of the genre, as well as being one of the most anthologised tales of the supernatural ever written. I’m not joking, Thurnley Abbey appears in virtually every other ghost story collection ever published! The tale was printed originally in Landon’s only short story collection, Raw Edges (1908), which in fact contains no other ghostly tales, although a few of the pieces have other fantastical elements. Raw Edges generally, as well as Thurnley Abbey in particular, display both Landon’s intelligence and his versatility as a writer. He was well-travelled, educated and discerning in his tastes (as well as being related to Spencer Perceval, who holds the dubious distinction of being the only British Prime Minister ever to have been assassinated). Despite all of this, and despite the fact that he was also a barrister, a good friend of Rudyard Kipling, a journalist, a war correspondent and an expert on heraldry, Landon is best remembered today as a ghost story writer and the perpetrator of one of the oddest hoaxes in publishing history.

Landon was born in 1868 of French Huguenot descent and educated at Hertford College, Oxford. He was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple but in 1899–1900 he was War Correspondent for The Times newspaper during the Boer War. For the next forty years Landon travelled constantly, visiting Persia, India, Nepal, China, Japan, Egypt, Sudan, Mesopotamia, Syria, Italy, France, Palestine and, finally, North America. This travel experience fed into his writing, as can be seen from Thurnley Abbey (click to read!), which is narrated by means of the framing device of two English gentlemen meeting while travelling abroad and one telling the other a chilling tale. It appears that the one with the tale to tell has had a traumatic experience in England while visiting the country home of a friend, one so terrifying that he finds himself unable to sleep alone afterwards. Suffice to say, once he has narrated his experiences at the titular Thurnley Abbey, the reader has no trouble understanding his difficulty getting to sleep! Whilst this is a very basic, run-of-the-mill ghost story for 1908, it is exceptional for two things: the fact that it does not take itself too seriously, while at the same time offering up a nasty shock with its genuinely creepy ‘ghost’.

Landon was very possibly, however, also the author of another volume of fiction which suggests a different side to his character: playful, scholarly, reflective, imaginative. In 1903 he published a book (dated 1904) of sundial mottoes which purported to be from an old volume translated into English in the early 17th century by one John Parmenter, Clerk of Wingham in the County of Kent. Landon claimed to be simply the editor. The British Library catalogue, however, is not convinced: it notes the book is “edited [or rather written]” by Landon. In other words, the entire book is an amiable hoax, and Landon himself is the creator of Parmenter and all the sundial mottoes. Whilst we cannot know how the British Library arrived at this conclusion, it does seem plausible, particularly as nothing else is known of the alleged Parmenter or his book. If the attribution to Landon as author is correct, this is a delightful and novel addition to his body of fictional work.

Advertisements

One Response to “Thurnley Abbey”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. New post from Anilbalans Ghost Cities Blog: Thurnley Abbey | Hugh Paxton's Blog - September 8, 2013

    […] Thurnley Abbey […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

CBS Sacramento

News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of Sacramento

CBS San Francisco

News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of SF

Going Places with Embry-Riddle Career Services

A blog for students and alumni of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

jessasmiley

the secrets of my scratch paper

hungarianportrait

Portrait and Glamour Photography from Laszlo Racz

Indie Hero

Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller

criticaldispatches.com/

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @RichyDispatch

A R T L▼R K

An Alternative Cultural Daybook

Snapping Twig

A Lit & Art Magazine Publishing a Diverse Collection of New & Established Writers & Artists everywhere [for the THRIVE ART CREATIVE]

Gmail Technical Support|1-888-551-2881|Helpline

Gmail Tech Support, Helpline Number, Customer Care Phone Number, Contact Technician for Recover Gmail Forgot Password

Books, Brains and Beer

"Words, words. They're all we have to go on."

Illa Poeta

A Female Scribe Who Loves To Rhyme

A Round of Words in 80 Days

The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have A Life

Elizabeth Willse: Surrounded by Books

Writer, Book Blogger, Librarian

The Blog of Funny Names

Celebrating Great People With Greater Names.

ARMAND ROSAMILIA

Official Site for Author Armand Rosamilia

COTTIDIANUS

Daily Life Photographs by PC Silva

thekitchensgarden

farming, gardens, cows, goats, chickens, food, organic, sustainable, photography,

Maurice Sapiro

TONALIST AND REPRESENTATIONAL FINE ART

%d bloggers like this: