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Edith Nesbit’s Tales of Terror

9 Dec

Edith Nesbit, best known as the author of The Railway Children, The Phoenix and the Carpet, The Treasure Seekers and many other children’s classics, was also the mistress of the ghost story and tales of terror. She was able to create genuinely chilling narratives in which the returning dead featured strongly. Her flesh-creeping yarns included love that transcended the grave, reanimated corpses, vampiric vines, vengeful ghosts and a whole host of other dark delights. However, Nesbit’s vintage spooky stories, tinged with horror, are all told in a bold, forthright manner that makes them seem fresh and unsettling even when read now. There was even something striking and otherworldly about Nesbit’s appearance, for she was described by those who saw her as having ‘a long full throat and dark luxuriant hair’. For some unfathomable reason, although Nesbit is still a well-known author today, her contribution to the ghost story genre is virtually unknown and unremarked upon, for the most part neglected by publishers and out of print for years. While there is no clear explanation for this, given the unquestionable quality of her supernatural fiction, one possibility is that Nesbit has simply been pigeon-holed conveniently as a children’s author. As a consequence, her writings in other areas have perhaps by default been disregarded – a fate that, in my opinion at least, is undeserved.

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