houseonthecliff1.pdf (43.49 KB) Having just enjoyed "The House on the Cliff", I thought William J. Wintle (1861-1934) deserved his own thread. If all of his stories are this good (Spectre Spiders seems the most anthologized) then his book "Ghost Gleams" (1921) should be a treat. It's available in digital form (some free) from various sources, with and without an introduction by Richard Dalby.
Am very happy to see The Sundial Press is publishing again after some months of dormancy, and the long-promised Wintle volume was finally out! A no-frills but well-made paperback, with an introduction by Richard Dalby (not sure if it's exactly the same as the one in the Ash-Tree edition). Dalby's introductions are always informative, but this one seems to have more personal touches. He was certainly proud of discovering Wintle:
"When I first discovered Ghost Gleams in a secondhand bookshop forty years ago, I was sufficiently impressed by 'The Spectre Spiders' to make it the title of my second anthology for Tom Stacey, following The Sorceress in Stained Glass (1971).
The Spectre Spider was due for publication in late 1973 on the same day as the long-delayed first British edition of John Dickson Carr's Castle Skull, but both editions were suddenly cancelled with the unexpected liquidation of the company. The surviving bound copies of Castle Skull were eventually issued by Severn House three years later, but The Spectre Spiders vanished into a black hole.
I eventually revived 'The Spectre Spiders' in my first Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories in 1990, and followed this with 'The Ghost at the Blue Dragon' in The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories: 2 in 1991."
Am also amused by his comparison of Wintle's posthumous financial position with MRJ's:
"According to his will, he had no financial problems, leaving estate (effects) valued at £6075.1s.7d. (compared to M.R. James's £3873), the equivalent of at least £120,000 today."
As to the stories, I remember (from the Mammoth books) "The Spectre Spiders" as a vigorous little gem, while "The Ghost at the Blue Dragon" a disappointment. Hope that some nasty surprises are awaiting me!
I was thinking of typing out one of Wintle's stories for Dem's consideration to be included in the Vault Advent Calendar, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the whole book already exists on the excellent Project Gutenberg Australia site:
Besides "The House on the Cliff" already mentioned by Swampirella, "The Red Rosarie" (a malice-of-inanimate-objects type of story) and "The Voice in the Night" (vampiric werewolf) are also recommended. There's no twists and turns in Wintle's tales, but his tone is just charming!