10 Classic Ghost Stories By Women You Probably Haven't Read Yet
Everyone knows that Halloween is the best time of year to indulge in ghost stories, but what happens when you've run out of new material? If you have already read "Turn of the Screw" and recited "The Black Cat" this year, don't fear, because there are still plenty of classic ghost stories by women you probably haven't heard yet.
If you love ghost stories as much as I do, then you're probably familiar with classic authors like M.R. James and H.P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood and Ambrose Bierce. Every year, you count on their spooky stories of haunted houses, fearsome phantoms, and spine-chilling specters to give you a fright for Halloween. But what is truly terrifying is the fact that when we talk about ghost stories, more often than not, we're discussing those written by male authors, despite that fact that at the height of their popularity, 70% of ghost stories were written by women. Unfortunately today, many of those once-famous females of the 19th and 20th century have been forgotten, and so have their superb supernatural stories.
That is, until now, because this Halloween, I'm celebrating classic ghost stories written by women, starting with these ten. Some are by famous authors you already love, others are by writers you've probably never heard of but definitely should know, and all of them are guaranteed to creep you out.
"The Lost Ghost" by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
In this creepy tale, a young girl appears to a woman again and again, repeating the phrase "I can't find my mother." Is she really lost, or is she a spirit from the otherside?
Where to read it: A New-England Nun and Other Stories by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
"Home" by Shirley Jackson
You probably know her haunted house masterpiece, The Haunting of Hill House, but have you read any of her shorter ghost stories? In "Home," the mistress of horror tells another spine-tingling tale about a supernatural dwelling and the unlucky people who try and live there.
Where to read it: Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson
"The Open Door" by Charlotte Riddell
One of the most popular ghost story writers of the Victorian period, Charlotte Riddell penned plenty of terrifying tales, but "The Open Door" is by far her most famous. It follows a young man who, desperate for money, takes a job at an old mansion where he is tasked with figuring out why a door in just won't stay closed, and what exactly is trying to get in from the otherside.
Where to read it: The Wimbourne Book of Victorian Ghost Stories by various authors
"The Old Nurse's Story" by Elizabeth Gaskell
If you know Elizabeth Gaskell for her famous social novel North and South, you might be surprised to learn that she also wrote supernatural stories, and truly chilling ones at that. In "The Old Nurse's Tale," a woman recounts the time she spent in her youth at a mansion haunted by the ghosts of its dark and devastating past. After reading this sinister story, you'll never be able to listen to the sound of an organ the same again.
Where to read it: Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell
"Man-Size in Marble" by E. Nesbit
Perhaps best known for her children's books and her poetry, Edith Nesbit was also wrote more than one chilling ghost story. In "Man-Size in Marble," a married couple moves into a cottage that the locals say is haunted. Every All Saints' Eve, according to the legend, the effigies of evil knights come to life and torment all who they come across.
"Escort" by Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier knows a thing or two about spinning a spooky story, a fact she once again proves with "Escort." A haunting tale set during World War II, it follows the first mate of a steamer who comes across a strange, possibly supernatural ship that promises to help he and his crew get to port safety.
Where to read it: Don't Look Now by Daphne du Maurier
"Bewitched" by Edith Wharton
If you aren't familiar with the ghost stories of Edith Wharton, "Bewitched" is the perfect place to start. In this spine-tingling tale, a woman is furious and heartbroken over her husband's affair with a younger girl, a girl who just might be a ghost.
Where to read: The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton by Edith Wharton
"At Chrighton Abbey" by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
At the center of "At Chrighton Abbey" is a deadly curse that claims the lives of the unmarried sons of the Chrighton family. Will Sarah's cousin Edward be the next victim, or will his impending wedding to Julia save him from the fate of so many others?
Where to read it: At Chrighton Abbey and Other Horror Stories by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
"The Phantom Coach" by Amelia B. Edwards
In "The Phantom Coach," a man is out hunting when a sudden snowfall leaves him stranded at a mysterious farmhouse. While waiting out the storm, he listens to the farm's strange owner tell scary stories about ghosts, prophecies, and the supernatural before eventually setting back out to catch the midnight mail coach nearby. On board, he finds three other men who don't speak or move, and they set off for a destination unknown.
Where to read it: Great Ghost Stories edited by John Grafton
"A Haunted House" by Virginia Woolf
In this eerie tale from the author of To the Lighthouse, a couple haunts their old house while its new resident tracks their movements in the hopes of learning what it is that they want. One of the inspirations behind David Lowery's celebrated film A Ghost Story, "A Haunted House" is a true classic you don't want to miss.
Where to read it: A Haunted House and Other Stories by Virginia Woolf