Haunted By Books by Mark Valentine
Paperback – Tartarus Press – 2020 – 296 pages
In Haunted By Books Mark Valentine explores the more curious byways of literature. He presents the author who was always being told he had nearly written a masterpiece, and the genius of the short story who brewed his own cider and lived in a railway carriage.
Then there’s the figure of the 1890s, praised by Max Beerbohm, who liked to wander around London wearing horns and chewing railings, and the young man in the 1930s who tried to sell his poetry door to door.
There are also new angles on key figures: the strange case of Robert Aickman, sailor and philosopher; the book that Sax Rohmer really wanted to write; the enigma of Walter de la Mare’s ‘Seaton’s Aunt’.
And there are literary mysteries; what was the MS in a Red Box? Who wrote Shakespeare’s Gunpowder Plot? What became of Dr. Ludovicus? Other essays celebrate neglected writers worth discovering, such as Mary Butts, Claude Houghton, and Vernon Knowles, or offer fresh perspectives, looking at Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s fantasies, Malcolm Lowry’s reading in occult fiction. There are even studies of books that were never written.
Haunted By Books will delight all readers and book collectors who like to leave the beaten path and wander in the wild woods, forgotten lanes and lonely houses of literature.