“The terror of it instead of unchaining my voice laid an icy hand upon my mouth and kept me still and silent.” – “The De Grabrooke Monument” (1879)
Charlotte Riddell (1832-1906) was born Charlotte Eliza Lawson Cowan in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim on 30 September 1832. She moved to London in 1855 where she started her career as a writer. There, in 1857, she married engineer and inventor Hadley Riddell. By 1867 she was the editor and co-proprietor of the St. James’s Magazine (previously edited by Anna Maria Hall). From 1857 until 1902, Riddell published more than thirty volumes, mostly novels but also short story collections. Although her realist fiction was popular during her lifetime, today she is primarily remembered for her ghost stories. She wrote five supernatural novellas, including The Uninhabited House (1875) and The Haunted River (1877), and her collection Weird Stories (1882) is now considered a classic of the genre. Riddell’s husband died in 1881, and in 1886 she left London for nearby Middlesex. Suffering from ill health and financial difficulties, she was awarded a Society of Authors pension in 1901. Riddell died on 24 September 1906 and is buried in St. Leonard’s Churchyard, Heston.
Bending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers
Irish women have long produced literature of the gothic, uncanny, and supernatural. Bending to Earth draws together twelve such tales. While none of the authors herein were considered primarily writers of fantastical fiction during their lifetimes, they each wandered at some point in their careers into more speculative realms — some only briefly, others for lengthier stays.
Names such as Charlotte Riddell and Rosa Mulholland will already be familiar to aficionados of the eerie, while Katharine Tynan and Clotilde Graves are sure to gain new admirers. From a ghost story in the Swiss Alps to a premonition of death in the West of Ireland to strange rites in a South Pacific jungle, Bending to Earth showcases a diverse range of imaginative writing which spans the better part of a century.
Read an Extract from the Introduction to Bending to Earth.