The Ghost Stories of Oliver Onions by Oliver Onions
Slipcased Hardcover – Tartarus Press – Jun 2021 – 748 pages
A new, revised publication of The Ghost Stories of Oliver Onions from Tartarus Press. This time they have published the book in two volumes, in a slipcase, and included a substantial folk-horror novella, “Gambier”.
OLIVER ONIONS has long been acknowledged by aficionados of supernatural writing as an elegant and accomplished practitioner; the eerie and beautifully-crafted ‘The Beckoning Fair One’ is perhaps the best known and certainly the most anthologised of his stories. Onions’ early collections of supernatural tales, especially the first and perhaps best, Widdershins (1911), but also Ghosts in Daylight (1924) and The Painted Face (1929) are very hard to find.
This is more than a pity because, at his best, Onions surely rates as one of the most poetic and original writers of the strange tale. One of his great strengths, but perhaps also one of the reasons why the majority of his ghost stories have been overlooked, is that they are not easy to categorise; their settings vary greatly, they have a broad frame of reference and the traditionally ‘supernatural’ content is sometimes minimal. Nor do similarities with other writers spring readily to mind, although it can be argued that there is a correspondence with other twentieth-century masters of the psychological ghost story, such as Walter de la Mare and Robert Aickman.
Volume One: “Introduction” by Rosalie Parker, “Credo”, “The Beckoning Fair One”, “Phantas”, “Rooum”, “Benlian”, “IO (The Lost Thyrsus)”, “The Accident”, “The Cigarette Case”, “Hic Jacet”, “The Rocker”, “The Ascending Dream”, “Dear Dryad”, “The Real People”, “The Woman in the Way”, “The Honey in the Wall”.
Volume Two: “Gambier”, “‘John Gladwin Says . . .’”, “The Painted Face”, “The Rosewood Door”, “The Smile of Karen”, “The Out-Sister”, “The Rope in the Rafters”, “Resurrection in Bronze”.