“Why was I conscious of a beating heart, accompanied by a scarcely defined, but undeniable dread?” – “The Red Woollen Necktie” (1896)
B. M. Croker (c.1849-1920) was a popular and bestselling author who enjoyed a highly successful career from 1880 until her death forty years later. Her novels, mostly set in India, her native Ireland, and England, were witty and fast moving. Bithia Mary Sheppard was born in Co. Roscommon, the only daughter of a Church of England clergyman, and married John Stokes Croker (1844-1911), an officer in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, in 1870. The newlyweds left for Madras, India immediately after the marriage; they later lived in Bengal, and a hill-station in Wellington (where many of her stories were written). On Colonel Croker’s retirement in 1892, they went to live in Co. Wicklow, and finally settled in Folkestone. She died at a nursing home in London, after a short and sudden illness, on 20 October 1920. Although Croker wrote numerous ghost stories during her career, they were only collected in 2000 as “Number Ninety” and Other Ghost Stories.
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.