What are your Favorite Ghost Stories?

While I was posting to Athena’s thread on spooky movies, it occured to me that it might be interesting to see what some of your favorite ghost stories. I don’t believe in ghosts – even though I grew up in a house that was supposedly haunted (however, the real events surrounding that house were more scary than any spooky movie) – but I adore ghost stories for some reason.
Since it is October and Halloween is fast approaching, here are some of my favorites:
1.) “The Frontier Guards” – H.R.Wakefield.
2.) The Shining – Stephen King.
3.) The Turn of the Screw – Henry James.
4.) “Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook” – M.R. James (the MASTER of his genre).
5.) “Four Ghosts in Macbeth” – Fritz Leiber (not the scariest of stories, but it is the most beautiful ghost story ever written, IMO).
6.) “William Wilson” – Edgar Allen Poe
7.) “The Ghost of Me” – Anthony Boucher (this one is screamingly hilarious).
8.) “Green Tea” – J. Sheridan Le Fanu (this guy was so good that I have a hard time deciding on a favorite story so I picked the most famous).
9.) She Walks These Hills – Sharyn McCrumb
10.) “The Canterville Ghost” – Oscar Wilde.
11.) “The Yellow Wallpaper” – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
12.) “Manna” – Peter Phillips (a stunning science fictional treatment of ghosts).
13.) “In the Vault” – H.P. Lovecraft

Agree with you on M.R. James, PC, although I’d rank “Count Magnus” as MY particular favorite.

Three classics you didn’t mention, both of which offer great atmosphere rather than horrid shocks:

Oliver Onions; “The Beckoning Fair One”
Algernon Blackwood; “The Willows”
Robert W. Chambers; “The Yellow Sign”

And if we can add novels, I’ll suggest

Fritz Leiber; CONJURE WIFE (okay, it starts as a witch story, but persevere; back in print now, thank god)
Kingsley Amis; THE GREEN MAN

And Zette’s post of yesterday afternoon made me remember how great Ira Levin’s ROSEMARY’S BABY is. Again, not really a GHOST story, but shivery as hell.


Robert E.(Conan The Barbarian)Howard’s “Pigeons From Hell”.

By the way, the name was one of his editors’ ideas, not his.
It’s actually very scary, despite the stupid name.

We have met the enemy, and He is Us.–Walt Kelly

I love scary novels, but for around the camp fire ghost stories, it would have to be “Shhhhh Paaaaaaw”.

If ignorance is bliss, you must be orgasmic.

My fave book,when little,was The Thing At The Foot Of The Bed.It had some good ones.

When I was about 12, I read The Wendigo (another Algernon Blackwood) and it scared the crap out of me. Just reread it recently, and it’s still got punch. s

Shortest Horror Story Ever*

‘The last man on Earth sat in a room. there was a knock at the door.’

*I know the thread is Ghosts, but how long can I wait to tell this…

Hey, Glee, I’ve got a similar story:
“He longed for the light of a candle, and a candle was put into his hand.”

“On the edge of sleep, I awoke to a sun so bright…”

Best campfire ghost stories: The Monkey’s Paw and La Llorona.

If you don’t know La Llorona…you’ve never been scared.

Ukele Ike: I read “The Beckoning Fair One” as a kid and I think it was over my head. I haven’t been able to locate it in an anthology since. You are correct about “The Yellow Sign” – it is one helluva horror tale, possibly the most influential in the genre – but for some reason I don’t think of it as a ghost story. Ever read The King in Yellow? Kudos on your good taste for liking Conjure Wife.
Daniel P.: “Pigeons From Hell” is a great tale, but I’ve never thought of it as a ghost story, but rather as a voodoo tale.
Glee: I think Fredric Brown used a similar statement as the opening for one of his stories.
MaxTorque: What is La Llorna? I have never heard of it before, and I am intrigued.

La Llorona is Spanish for “the crying woman.” It’s an old folk story of the Southwest. Other folks explain her better than I can; check out http://web.nmsu.edu/~tomlynch/swlit.lallorona.html

A skillful storyteller can make you believe that every sound at night may be La Llorona, searching…


Thanks for the vote of confidence. About the best anthology for this sort of thing is the Modern Library hardcover GREAT TALES OF TERROR AND THE SUPERNATURAL, edited by Phyllis Cerf Wagner. It includes the Onions story (yeah, it helps to be a post-adolescent when you read it, I know from experience) and a helluva lot else…over 1,000 pages for about 24 bucks.

The OTHER massive anthology worth owning if you’re a ghost/horror short-story buff is David Hartwell’s THE DARK DESCENT. A wonderful history of the form, and the only book I’ve seen that includes the ghastly Victorian morality tale, “The New Mother.”