Thursday, 27 March 2008

Virago Modern Classics: the response...

Well, it's been overwhelming, and incredibly interesting and thought-provoking. Thank you all for taking the time and trouble to respond. I've now been pointed in the direction of the following site, entirely devoted to VMC (www.librarything.com/groups/viragomodernclassics), which is definitely worth looking at, in case you haven't already discovered it. I've also asked the current editor of VMC to look at your comments, and hopefully she will take note of the following: that the dark green covers are missed, and that a number of much-loved books have been allowed to go out of print. Certainly, it seems a shame that May Sinclair's novels have lapsed into the void, though I am hoping to track down some second hand copies. And I'm determined to find a copy of "The Brontes Went To Woolworths".
I'm not sure quite why, but this subject has also sent me off in another direction -- back to one of my favourite childhood authors, E. Nesbit. I've still got my Puffin editions of "Five Children and It", "The Wouldbegoods" and "The Story of the Amulet". But I hadn't realised that she also wrote ghost stories. Has anyone read them?

10 comments:

Rob Hardy said...

My two boys loved having E. Nesbit's books read aloud to then when they were little. They also enjoyed the books by Nesbit's American admirer, Edward Eager (like Half Magic. I've never read E. Nesbit's ghost stories, but I think it's interesting that another Edith (and nearly exact contemporary), Edith Wharton, also wrote ghost stories. I think there was quite a bit of interest in spiritualism at the turn of the century.

Table Talk said...

I haven't read the ghost stories, no, but as an ex-Children's Literature lecturer I know and loved all her children's books and was always delighted with the way the students responded to them as well. They could have been written yesterday for the pleasure they gave.

Sorry I didn't respond to the Virago discussion. It wasn't that I didn't have anything to say but that I still have relapses from the illness that brought me out of teaching and days when even sitting in front of a computer is too much. It's been an iffy week.

Justine Picardie said...

Ann, I'm so sorry to hear you've been unwell. Hope "Daphne" has arrived safely in the post, and that you feel up to reading it. And when you do feel well enough, there's plenty of time to respond to the ongoing Virago discussion, especially now that the current editor of VMC, Donna Coonan, has posted a comment on this blog.

Rob -- your children obviously have good taste! And I was struck by your perceptive comment about the timing of the ghost stories, and how they coincided with the interest in spiritualism. I did a lot of research into 19th and early 20th century spiritualism when I was writing a previous book, "If The Spirit Moves You". I'd be happy to send a copy to you, if you're interested. I was always fascinated by the fact that Edison was trying to build a machine to allow the living to speak to the dead, having already invented the phonograph, which allows the dead to speak from beyond the grave, as it were...

lyn said...

Justine, Wordsworth Editions have brought out a volume of Edith Nesbit's ghost stories, The Power of Darkness : Tales of Terror. I enjoyed the stories very much, Man-Size in Marble & The Violet Car especially.
Wordsworth Editions have a whole new series called Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural, lots of Victorian & Edwardian authors, some obscure & some not so obscure. I love ghost stories & these volumes are very cheap so easy to collect.

Justine Picardie said...

Lyn -- thanks for letting me know. I'm going to order those now, for a dark evening! Have your read any M.R James? My teenage son just came back with a second hand copy from the local Oxfam shop. I haven't read James' ghost stories for years, but he is a real master of them. As is Henry James, of course! The Turn of the Screw is still completely riveting (sorry, bad and unintentional pun).

lyn said...

Yes, I read MRJames a long time ago but he's certainly scary. I get along with shorter Henry James works better than longer, & TOTS is one of my favourites although the themes are very disturbing.

Rob Hardy said...

Justine, I would love a copy of "If the Spirit Moves You." It sounds wonderful. I am, however, all the way over in Minnesota. I was in England last year, and I'm wishing I were there now. Your springs are heavenly compared to ours in Minnesota!

Eloise said...

I'm a devoted fan of Victorian/ Edwardian ghost stories (especially M R James) and one of the wonderful things about them as I delve deeper into the various collections is the number of women who were writing these stories. I've read a couple of E Nesbit's and they are very enjoyable. Another collection I read recently and can recommend is The Bell in the Fog by Gertrude Atherton, psychological stories heavily influenced by Henry James; they are also published by Wordsworth in their Mystery and Supernatural list.

Justine Picardie said...

That's a good suggestion -- I'll go and get myself a copy. Why do you think so many women were writing ghost stories?

mistressdickens said...

I have a copy of 'The Brontes went to Woolworths' .... Kathryn Sutherland has invited me to your talk with her in Oxford, so I could bring it then, if you'd like?