Ghost Story of a Novelist

Katharine Tynan

Mrs. Katharine Tynan relates a Weird Tale—May Be a Coincidence.

Mrs. Katharine Tynan, the well-known novelist, sends to the Daily Graphic the following weird story:

“This may be a coincidence. On the other hand, it may be a ghost story. It happened to one near and dear to me. It was in his college days, and it was a long vacation, during which he had elected to stay on in his college rooms and work. The rooms were at the top of one of the highest houses in the ancient foundation of Queen Elizabeth, T.C.D. [Trinity College Dublin]. There was not a soul in the house but himself, and the quads and buildings were full of echoing emptiness after nightfall. He was not nervous in the ordinary sense of the word, and did not object to his solitude in his eyrie, although an impressionable Celtic visitor calling on him one afternoon remarked that he would not occupy those rooms in the empty house in the empty college for a single night, no matter what inducement were offered to him to do it.

“It was a night or two later. The sole occupant of No. — awoke in the dark. He had been awakened by an unusual sound on the stairs. He heard the foot ascend and pause outside his door. He sprang out of bed, and fumbled for a light. By the time he had got it, he heard the foot going downstairs again. He hurried to his door, opened it and listened. All was silent as the grave in the empty house. He returned to bed mystified, and slept till morning. In the morning, as he made his own breakfast, and thought of his mysterious visitor of the night before, he glanced toward the door, and noticed something white half-way under the door—a visiting card. He picked it up. It was the card of a man he knew—a college acquaintance, whom we shall call Roland White. In the corner of the card was written in pencil, ‘Just passing through.’ The mystery was not cleared. Why on earth should Roland White have called in the dead waste and middle of the night? He had heard of him a few days before as enjoying himself thoroughly grouse-shooting in the west.

“A day or two passed. As he came into college one afternoon he was stopped by one of the porters. ‘Very sad about poor Mr. White, sir?’ ‘What about Mr. White?’ ‘Haven’t you heard, sir? It’s in the evening papers.’ It was the familiar accident of the trigger of a gun catching in a twig as the sportsman scrambled through a fence. Shot in the head, Roland White had died within a few minutes of the accident. The coincidence would have been if the card was an old one, and had been dislodged from somewhere or another to lie below the door on the very night following the day when the fatal accident had occurred. But then the foot on the stairs in the middle of the night! Ghost story or coincidence, it remains a mystery to this day.”


Buy a copy of Katharine Tynan’s The Death Spancel and Others.

You might also be interested in Bending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women.

Learn a bit more about Katharine Tynan.

Ghost Story of a Novelist

Strange Stories by Irish Women

2019-01-25 Final Poster

Back in 2015, Jason Zerrillo and I designed the poster “Irish Writers of the Fantastic” as a response to the more ubiquitous “Irish Writers” poster that one often finds around Dublin. Instead of the typical faces — Joyce, Yeats, Beckett, Swift, etc. — we wanted to showcase the Irish writers we enjoyed reading — those with a more fantastical bent — Le Fanu, Dunsany, Hearn, etc. Our goal was to establish a sort of lesser known canon, but a no less important one. If you want to see “Irish Writers of the Fantastic”, and read about the thought that went into it, have a look at this previous post.

With the release of Bending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women, edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers, we thought it would be an interesting idea to repeat the exercise. Naturally we focused on the Irish women who contributed to literature of the fantastic and whose stories are included in the book.

In addition to the image above showing the full poster, the links below will give you a bit more information on the backgrounds of these writers. And if you’re still interested, do pick up a copy of Bending to Earth.

Anna Maria Hall (1800 – 1881)

Lady Jane Francesca Wilde (1821[?] – 1896)

Charlotte Riddell (1832 – 1906)

Rosa Mulholland (1841 – 1921)

L. T. Meade (1844[?] – 1914)

B. M. Croker (c.1849 – 1920)

Lady Augusta Gregory (1852 – 1932)

Katharine Tynan (1859 – 1931)

Clotilde Graves (1863 – 1932)

Ethna Carbery (1866 – 1902)

Dora Sigerson Shorter (1866 – 1918)

Beatrice Grimshaw (1870 – 1953)

Of course, as is always the case with these things, not everyone will agree with our choices. Two obvious omissions are Dorothy Macardle and Elizabeth Bowen. Given that they both appeared on our first poster, “Irish Writers of the Fantastic”, and are both served well in print, we decided not to include them again here. Instead we focused on lesser known contributors to fantastical literature. But the question stands: who would you include? And, more importantly, why would you include them?

As always, we hope this poster, “Strange Stories by Irish Women”, will lead you to discover new books and authors. If you have a further interest in Ireland’s contributions to fantastical literature, you also might want to check out our twice-yearly journal The Green Book, which features commentaries, articles, and reviews on Irish gothic, supernatural, and fantastic literature.


Bending to EarthBending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers

Order a copy of Bending to Earth.

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.

Strange Stories by Irish Women

Beatrice Grimshaw (1870-1953)

12 Beatrice Grimshaw

“A mountain paradise, yet silent and lonesome, somewhat strange, for all its sweetness of flower and of friend, not friendly . . . ” – “The Blanket Fiend” (1929)

Beatrice Grimshaw (1870-1953) was born in Dunmurry, Co. Antrim on 3 February 1870. Though raised in Northern Ireland, and educated in France, Grimshaw is primarily associated with Australia and the South Seas, which she wrote about in her fiction and travel journalism. She was a devoted (and record-breaking) cyclist, and during the 1890s wrote for the Dublin-based magazines Irish Cyclist and Social Review. In 1904 Grimshaw was commissioned by London’s Daily Graphic to report on the Pacific islands, around which she purportedly sailed her own cutter, never to return to Europe again. Her travel writing includes From Fiji to the Cannibal Islands (1907) and In the Strange South Seas (1908); her most popular novels are When Red Gods Call (1911) and The Sorcerer’s Stone (1914); while collections such as The Valley of Never-Come-Back (1923) and The Beach of Terror (1931) feature some of her supernatural stories. After living much of her life in New Guinea, Grimshaw retired to New South Wales, where she died on 30 June 1953.


Bending to EarthBending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers

Order a copy of Bending to Earth.

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.

Beatrice Grimshaw (1870-1953)

Dora Sigerson Shorter (1866-1918)

11 Dora Sigerson Shorter

“Up and down the streets I wandered till dawn grew gray, but no dawn arose in my heart, only black night for ever.” – “Transmigration” (1900)

Dora Sigerson Shorter (1866-1918) was born in Clare Street, Dublin. Both of her parents were writers—her father was the noted surgeon and poet George Sigerson (1836-1925). In 1895 she married the English literary critic Clement King Shorter and relocated to London. Early in her career she contributed to magazines such as Irish Monthly and Samhain, and became friendly with the political activist Alice Furlong and the author Katharine Tynan. Shorter’s volumes of poetry include The Fairy Changeling (1897), Love of Ireland (1916), and the posthumously published Sixteen Dead Men and Other Poems of Easter Week (1919). Shorter died in St. John’s Woods, London, on 6 January 1918; Tynan later wrote that she “died of a broken heart” which she attributed to the 1916 executions. Although chiefly known for her poetry (and to a lesser extent as a sculptor) Shorter also wrote prose, including sketches collected in The Father Confessor: Stories of Danger and Death (1900). She is now regarded as a significant poet of the Irish Literary Revival.


Bending to EarthBending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers

Order a copy of Bending to Earth.

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.

 

Dora Sigerson Shorter (1866-1918)

Ethna Carbery (1866-1902)

10 Ethna Carbery

“One bleak night in autumn a sound outside drew him to the door, and opening it, he stood listening.”  –  “The Wee Gray Woman” (1903)

Ethna Carbery (1866-1902) was the pen name of journalist, writer, poet, and patriot Anna MacManus. She was born Anna Bella Johnston in Ballymena, Co. Antrim on 3 December 1866, and started publishing poems and short stories in Irish periodicals at the age of fifteen. She was one of the co-founders of the Daughters of Ireland, a radical nationalist women’s organisation led by Maud Gonne. With the poet and writer Alice Milligan, Carbery published two nationalist periodicals, The Northern Patriot and The Shan Van Vocht, the latter considered a major contribution to the Irish literary revival. In 1901 she married poet and folklorist Séumas MacManus, though the marriage was short-lived. Carbery died at the age of thirty-five in Donegal on 2 April 1902. After her death, her husband published three volumes of her work: a book of poetry, The Four Winds of Eirinn (1902); and two short story collections, The Passionate Hearts (1903), and In the Celtic Past (1904).


Bending to EarthBending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers

Order a copy of Bending to Earth.

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.

Ethna Carbery (1866-1902)

Clotilde Graves (1863-1932)

09 Clotilde Graves

Only the dead are faithful to Love—because they are dead,” she said. “The living live on—and forget!” – “A Vanished Hand” (1914)

Clotilde Graves (1863-1932) was born in the Buttevant Barracks, Co. Cork on 3 June 1863. At the age of nine, Graves’s family moved to England. She worked briefly in the British Museum while studying at the Royal Female School of Art in Bloomsbury. Often unconventional and uncompromising, Graves adopted male dress and smoked in public, both frowned upon at the time. With the intention of becoming a playwright, Graves worked as a travelling actor to learn the craft. This she did, and between 1887 and 1913 she had sixteen plays produced in London and New York. Under the pen-name “Richard Dehan”, used to differentiate from her dramatic output, she also wrote historical novels as well as stories for periodicals such as Gentlewoman, World, and Judy. Graves retired in 1928 to a convent in Hatch End, Middlesex, where she died on 3 December 1932. Her short story collections include The Cost of Wings (1914), Off Sandy Hook (1915), Under the Hermés (1917), and The Eve of Pascua (1920).


Bending to EarthBending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers

Buy a copy of Bending to Earth.

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.

Clotilde Graves (1863-1932)

Katharine Tynan (1859-1931)

08 Katharine Tynan

“Any whose business brought them to the attic looked in the corners warily, while they stayed, but the servants did not like to go there alone.” – “The First Wife” (1895)

Katharine Tynan (1859-1931) was born in South Richmond Street, Dublin on 23 January 1859. She was raised in Whitehall, the family home in Clondalkin. Her literary salon there attracted notables such as the mystical poet A.E. and W. B. Yeats, the latter with whom she formed a lifelong friendship. With encouragement from Rosa Mulholland, Tynan became a prolific writer, authoring more than a hundred novels in addition to memoirs, journalism, numerous volumes of poetry, and a tribute to her friend Dora Sigerson Shorter in The Sad Years (1918). Her works deal with nationalism, feminism, and Catholicism—Yeats declared of her early collection Shamrocks (1887) that “in finding her nationality, she has also found herself”. Tynan died in Wimbledon, London on 2 April 1931. Her short stories, often featuring sketches of Irish life, can be found in An Isle in the Water (1895), Men and Maids (1908), and Lovers’ Meeting (1914).


Bending to EarthBending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers

Order a copy of Bending to Earth.

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.

The Death Spancel and Others by Katharine Tynan

Order a copy of The Death Spancel.

Katharine Tynan is not a name immediately associated with the supernatural. However, like many other writers of the early twentieth century, she made numerous forays into literature of the ghostly and macabre, and throughout her career produced verse and prose that conveys a remarkable variety of eerie themes, moods, and narrative forms.

From her early, elegiac stories, inspired by legends from the West of Ireland, to pulpier efforts featuring grave-robbers and ravenous rats, Tynan displays an eye for weird detail, compelling atmosphere, and a talent for rendering a broad palette of uncanny effects.

The Death Spancel and Others is the first collection to showcase Tynan’s tales of supernatural events, prophecies, curses, apparitions, and a pervasive sense of the ghastly.

Katharine Tynan (1859-1931)

Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932)

07 Lady Augusta Gregory

“He called to it and said, ‘Tell me what you are?’ ” – “The Unquiet Dead” (1920)

Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932), noted folklorist and playwright, was born Isabella Augusta Persse to a wealthy Anglo-Irish family in Co. Galway on 15 March 1852. In 1880 she married Sir William Henry Gregory, former Member of Parliament and once-governor of Ceylon. After Sir William’s death in 1892, Lady Gregory started collecting Irish legends and folklore, a lifelong interest that took form as Cuchulain of Muirthemne (1902), Gods and Fighting Men (1904), A Book of Saints and Wonders (1906), and Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland (1920). She was a friend and collaborator of W. B. Yeats, with whom she co-founded the Abbey Theatre in 1904. She also wrote a number of plays, mainly comedies and fantasies inspired by Irish myths. After stepping down as director of the Abbey Theatre in 1928, she retired to her family residence at Coole Park, where she did on 22 May 1932. She is today remembered as one of the leading lights of the Celtic Revival.


Bending to EarthBending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers

Order a copy of Bending to Earth.

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.

Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932)

B. M. Croker (1849-1920)

06 B. M. Croker

“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.


 

Number Ninety“Number Ninety & Other Ghost Stories” by B. M. Croker

Order a copy of Number Ninety.

The bestselling Irish author B. M. Croker enjoyed a highly successful literary career from 1880 until her death forty years later. Her novels were witty and fast moving, set mostly in India and her native Ireland. Titles such as Proper Pride (1882) and Diana Barrington (1888) found popularity for their mix of romantic drama and Anglo-Indian military life. And, like many late-Victorian authors, Croker also wrote ghost stories for magazines and Christmas annuals. From the colonial nightmares such as “The Dak Bungalow at Dakor” and “The North Verandah” to the more familiar streets of haunted London in “Number Ninety”, this collection showcases fifteen of B. M. Croker’s most effective supernatural tales.

Bending to EarthBending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers

Order a copy of Bending to Earth.

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.

B. M. Croker (1849-1920)

L. T. Meade (1844-1914)

“She stands there at the foot of the bed; she wears a hood, and her face is yellow. She has been dead a long time.” “The Woman with the Hood” (1897)

L. T. Meade (1844?-1914) was the pen name of Elizabeth Thomasina Toulmin Smith, née Meade. She was born in Bandon, Co. Cork and started writing at the age of seventeen, quickly establishing herself as one of the most prolific and bestselling authors of the day. In addition to her books for young people, she also penned mystery stories, sensational fiction, romances, historical, and adventure novels; part of this tremendous output was co-written with other authors, such as Robert Eustace (1854-1943). Her most notable works include A World of Girls (1886), Light o’ the Morning (1899), The Brotherhood of the Seven Kings (1899), and The Sorceress of the Strand (1903). Meade also edited Atalanta, a popular girls’ magazine, in which she published H. Rider Haggard, R. L. Stevenson, and Katharine Tynan. She died in Oxford on 27 October 1914. Although now much of her writing is largely unread, her stories are occasionally reprinted as examples of early crime fiction.


Bending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers

Order a copy of Bending to Earth.

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.

L. T. Meade (1844-1914)