Peter Haining (ed.) – The Magic Valley Travellers: Welsh Stories Of Fantasy And Horror (Gollancz, 1974)
Foreword by Richard Hughes Introduction – Peter Haining
Traditional – Lludd And Llevelys Geoffrey Of Monmouth – Merlin And The Magicians Anon – Arthur And Gorlagon Walter Map – The Living Dead Man Giraldus Cambrensis – The Fairy People John Aubrey – The Sin Eater Ann Of Swansea – The Fatal Prediction Mary Shelley – The Invisible Girl George Borrow – The Dylluan Sir John Rhys – The Curse Of Pantannas Elias Owen – The Treasure Ghost Wirt Sikes – The Corpse Candle H. G. Wells – The Chronic Argonauts Arthur Machen – The Gift Of Tongues Caradoc Evans – The Coffin John Wyndham – A Stray From Cathay Richard Hughes – The Stranger Dylan Thomas – The School For Witches Charles Williams – The Sabbath Robert Graves – Week-End At Cwm Tatws Glyn Jones – Jordan Robert Bloch – The Dark Isle Rhys Davies – The Dark World
Walter Map - The Living Dead Man: A twelfth century 'vampire' tale according to Montague Summers and his plagiarists, a "theory" dismissed as a load of bollocks by a medieval scholar who once wrote me confirming Summers had tarted up the text to suit his purpose. English Knight, William Lauden approaches the Bishop of Hereford in regard to the behaviour of some deceased Welsh malefactor, whose misanthrope has survived the grave. Each night the animated corpse pays a visit to his village and knocks up his former neighbours. By this means he decimates the population as those he summons by name "upon being called at once fall sick and die within three days".
On being informed of this catastrophe, the Bishop realises that God, working to his usual mysterious agenda, has empowered the Devil to resurrect his disciple, so "let the corpse be exhumed, and then do you cut through it's neck, sprinkling both the body and the grave throughout with holy water, and so rebury it "
His instructions are complied with but the villagers continue to drop like flies.
Come the night when the Demon pays the the Knight a visit, but William has only to draw his sword and the miscreant turns on his heel and flees back to his grave. Such was his haste to put some soil between himself and his pursuer that he "clave his head to the neck". (presumably the Bishop's flock had only slightly decapitated him or else just how many heads did this guy have at his disposal ?). As from that moment on, no more was seen of the Living Dead man and the pestilence subsided.
Ann Of Swansea – The Fatal Prediction: Rhys Meredith moves into a tiny Welsh village where he soon establishes a reputation as a visionary whose predictions prove unerringly accurate. Only one person stands between him and tyranny over the simple farming folk, the local beauty, Ruth Tudor, who openly mocks him as a charlatan. Eventually, for a laugh, she and some girl pals approach him to have their fortunes read . Rhys, eaten up with hatred for Ruth, falsely claims that she is destined to commit murder, a malicious falsehood that sets her on the path to madness and butchery. Full on Gothic blood and thunder this, culminating in one of the nastiest endings of its day - whenever that was.
Haining writes in his introductory notes that the story was included in Ann Of Swansea's Deeds of an Olden Time (1826), but it will possibly be familiar to most readers under the title of The Cave Of Blood as by 'Dick Donovan'! Much as i like Dick (aka James E. Muddock, J. E. Muddock and, on occasion, even Joyce E. Muddock), in this instance I hope The Cave Of Blood is a plagiarism as 'Ann' has by far the livelier back story if Adam Matthew Publications Biographies of Gothic Novelists are to be believed!
Ann Julia Hatton (1764-1838), novelist, who wrote under the name “Ann [or Anne] of Swansea”, was the younger sister of Sarah Siddons. She taught herself to read and wrote her first play aged 11, which was performed by her father’s theatrical company in Brecon. Hatton believed that because of her limp and squint, her family ridiculed her as “the Genius”, and had her apprenticed to a mantua-maker. In 1783, she married a bigamist and then earned her living by lecturing for James Graham, the quack doctor. Attempting suicide in Westminster Abbey, she was accidentally shot in the face in a brothel. Hatton wrote 14 novels between 1810 and 1831 mainly for Minerva Press, which included the exceedingly gory Cesario Rosalba: or the Oath of Vengeance (1819).
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.