Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Best Ghost Story 20 from 1800-1849 is "The Ghost with the Golden Casket" by Allan Cunningham


This is an exciting time because we have reached in the countdown the Top 20 ghost stories for the first half of the nineteenth century. This first scary story does not disappoint as it comes from Allan Cunningham (1784-1842) who was right at home in telling a supernatural yarn.


Cunningham is less than popular today, but in the early nineteenth century he was a popular author and poet. He kept company with Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg (the "Ettrick Sheppard) who appeared at spot 29 in the ghost short story countdown with "Mary Burnet". Each of these Scottish authors forged new ground when telling supernatural tales. It is Allan Cunningham, however, who penned one of the best ghost stories apart from Scott's "The Tapestried Chamber," which I included in The Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Ghost Anthology.

In The Ghost with the Golden Casket readers are immediately transported into Scotland of old where they can visualize, through Cunningham's fine prose, Caerlaverock Castle, smell the conifers and greensward, feel rocky hillocks underfoot, and hear the crash of the green ocean waves. But let's be honest, the thick accents of the peasant speakers are challenging in modern times. Still, I am hard pressed to find a true to life Scottish ghost story for the first half of the nineteenth century than this. Get ready to be scared after you are transported to Scotland from your favorite reading chair!       

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