57 episodes

Classic Ghost Stories and Weird Tales read by Tony Walker. At least once a week, we broadcast a new classic ghost story or weird tale.

Classic Ghost Stories Tony Walker

    • Arts
    • 4.8, 31 Ratings

Classic Ghost Stories and Weird Tales read by Tony Walker. At least once a week, we broadcast a new classic ghost story or weird tale.

    Episode 56: The Curse of Mathair nan Uisgeachan by Angus Wolfe Murray

    Episode 56: The Curse of Mathair nan Uisgeachan by Angus Wolfe Murray

    Angus Wolfe MurrayAngus Wolfe Murray was born in 1937 and now lives at Traquair in the Scottish Borders. With his late wife he founded Canongate Publishers. He comes from a celebrated Scottish family and his details can be found in the peerage. Edcated at Eton and working as a journalist and latterly a film critic. 


    He is still alive, and while I am glad of that, I am slightly embarrassed that I thought he had died. I had been asked to do a Scottish story and I was keen to use my Scottish accent (my father was a Scot), and I found this story in an anthology of Scottish ghost stories. We have holidayed in the Highlands the past two years and it also gave me a chance to say some words in Gaelic.


    My first degree was in Celtic and I spent a summer in Stornoway learning Gaelic many years ago. I can't really speak it any more though. 


    After I had recorded the story and started researching it, I found Angus Wolfe Murray was alive and I have tried to contact him via Twitter and I see he has a dormant Facebook page. I went ahead with the reading but if anyone can contact him, and he would like the episode removed, then of course I will do that. 


    Mathair nan UisgeachanScottish Gaelic for The Mother of the Waters. The name of the whirlpool in the loch.


    The story begins as a very naturalistic tale of an idealistic young man from the Scottish upper classes who returns to the family estate and appreciates the history of the Highlands. He comments on the empty glen and alludes to the Highland Clearances and the remaining Highlanders wily ways and tenacity to keep to tradition. Tradition when the clan owned everything in common and Chief was not a feudal lord, but the father of the tribe. Hugh, coming back from Toronto is a reminder of the change in attitudes where the Gaelic Clan Chiefs were Anglicised and transformed themselves into property owners as per the standard European model.


    Hugh is not a sympathetic character, but his Canadian wife Anne is and our unnamed narrator falls for her. A love triangle evolves, though not as far or with as grisly outcome as in last weeks's story, Oscar Cook's Boomerang.


    The narrator goes to see his aunt Magda in Aberdeenshire, talks late and falls asleep. Though the fact he has fallen asleep is not stated specifically. We believe he has gone back to the castle as he says, but the story gets weirder until he in fact states that he must be dreaming. It is difficult at first to disentangle which is dream and which is waking. The weirdness of the dream is full of symbols and ends with the legend of the death of Lochlann, murdered by the man who thought he was his father. 


    The story is conveyed in dream, but the ghost Lochlann appears in the real world too. First he is seen by Magda when he is with her sister Fiona, who died, and then he is seen by the narrator himself when he is with Anne. Though probably a ghost, he has some of the flavour of the fairy folk.


    It seems that the curse affects women who have a child and are unfaitful to their husbands. In the legend the wife Shona was unfaithful and her child was not her husbands. I think it is possible that Anne's child was not Hughe's but was in fact conceived that day of the fishing trip, though this is not specifically mentioned.


    Ten-year old Fiona was drowned, presumably as part of the curse, though she had not been unfaithful and her body was found in the river, not the whirlpool.


    All in all though, Angus Wolfe Murray conjures the Highlands wonderfully and I kept thinking of the landscape off the A9 road that we travelled through last year on our trip to Inverness. He also manages to convey the feel of this fairy haunted land and say something about the tragic history of the Highland folk who were cleared to make way for sheep by the people who should have been looking out for them most -- their clan chiefs. 


    And then Aunt M

    • 59 min
    Episode 55 Boomerang by Oscar Cook

    Episode 55 Boomerang by Oscar Cook

    Boomerang by Oscar CookFirst of all, this story was requested by Peter Denyer. To be fair he merely suggested it and I went and hunted it down, so I accept all responsiblity for the gruesomeness of it.


    Richard Martin Oscar Cook was born in London in 1888 and died also in London in 1952. His father owned an athletic goods company and they were fairly well-off. He seems to have been brought up in Broxbourne just outside London and his first job was a clerk there but very shortly afterwards he went to make his fortune in a rubber planation in Borneo. Unfortunately he did not get on well and was sacked, but remained in Borneo and got another job in the British Colonial Service.


    He was an administrator of the British Empire and worked in North Borneo from 1911 until 1918 and then had District Officer posts. This was a position in the British Colonial Service and these administrators and often magistrate was at the heart of colonial administration in the British colonies.


    He was married in 1924 to Christine Campbell Thomson but got divorced in 1938.


    When he returned to England he wrote an autobiography of his time in Borneo and thereafter wrote supernatural stories, many of which appeared in various anthologies. This story appeared in the 2nd Pan Book of Horror. I used to read those books when I was a kid, which may explain a lot.


    Cook bought a controlling interest in a publishing company which produced a series of horror anthologies called Not at Night which ran to twelve books.


    BoomerangBoomerang is usually used to refer to a weapon of wood made by the native people of Australia which reputedly returns to the person who throws it. 


    This story Boomerang first appeared in an antholog in 1931 and was later dramatised for television as The Caterpillar broadcast in March 1972. Cook's most famous story is His Beautiful Hands which I may read at some point in the future. 


    There are several mysteries about this story. 


    Why is it called Boomerang?


    Why was it called The Caterpillar when filmed, because it's about an earwing, not a caterpillar.


    The story pushes the gruesome in a fairly predictable way. It's very linear and we have Warwick the narrator pausing to ramp up the tension and adding horrid detail after horrid detail. Firstly, there's an earwig that's really big. Then it eats wax, but best of all it likes human earwax. Then it goes in the ear, and it is going to eat its way right through to the other ear (a fearsome feat of navigation for the earwig, and why would it bother coming out?) And then ha ha! It's a female so it's going to lay eggs!!!! What horror.


    The other elements seem to come from the Boy's Own Stories of the later British Empire, but also seen in stories of the American West where men wrestle for hunting knives to fight over women who stand and watch, terrified but fascinated. They had some funny ideas about men and women in those days.


    There are clear traces of its time and period in the casual sexism towards women who always fall to flirting and never know the consequences of the games they play. They can be stolen by other men (presumably not by other women...) and they are prone to irrational actions. 


    At least the narrator gains the moral high ground over Warwick in that he insists that Rhona must have a point of view.


    When I was a young man I had a girlfriend who's mother had been brought up on a tea plantation in Ceylon (as it was then). It gave me a glimpse into a vanished world of the British Empire and reading this story brough back whiffs of that world as told to me by my girlfriend's mum.


    You can watch The Caterpillar on Daily Motion  here (https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xgo6g)


    Support Us!Ways to support Tony to keep doing the show:


    Share and rate it! (https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/classic-ghost-stories-923395)


    Buy Tony a coffee...

    • 48 min
    Episode 54: The Bridal Party by S Mukerji

    Episode 54: The Bridal Party by S Mukerji

    The Bridal Party by S MukerjeeS Mukerji, whose name appears in various transliterations, including S Mukherjee, published his book of Indian Ghost Stories in 1917. 


    I can find no biographical information on him, or even what his first name was. I wondered if he were related to the Mukherjee family who pioneered Indian cinema in the early 20th Century. I have no evidence that he is!


    At the time of writing the first edition he lived in Calcutta (Kolkata) and his stories show his familiarity and residence in Bengal, but he later lived in Allahbad (Prayagraj) in Uttar Pradesh. The name Mukerji is a Kulin Brahmin name and common in West Bengal.


    He moved in high circles and his friends were judges and lawyers during the later British Raj. He alludes that his father had a coachman and he had a nurse growing up.


    I picked an Indian story because there are a lot of Indian listeners to the podcast. The ghost story form was very prevalent in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods and then metamophosized into the uncanny tale and later into a branch of speculative fiction. 


    Running in parallel with the fictional ghost story, we have "true accounts" which are the reportedly true accounts of visitors to actual places. Years ago, I ran the Haunted Britain and Ireland website which specialised in sending visitors to locations with supposedly true ghost hauntings. There is still great mileage in the true account genre and there are a good number of podcasts, TV shows and Youtube channels still seeking people's personal accounts of ghosts. With The Classic Ghost Stories Podcast I had deliberately kept to fictional stories up until now.


    I excuse myself because S Mukerjee writes his story in dramatic form rather than just as a witness report and he gives characters who have lines within the story.


    Support Us!Ways to support Tony to keep doing the show:


    Share and rate it! (https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/classic-ghost-stories-923395)


    Buy Tony a coffee (http://bit.ly/2QKgHkY)  to help with the long nights editing!


    Become a   Patreon (http://bit.ly/barcudpatreon)  to get additional stuff and allow the show to go on in the long term. 


    Facebook GroupWhy not join Classic Ghost Stories Podcast on  Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/classicghoststories/)  for the lastest news?


    MusicBeginning music ‘Some Come Back’ is by the marvellous   Heartwood Institute (https://theheartwoodinstitute.bandcamp.com/album/witch-phase-four)


    Because I had a little more time, I included the full track of The Heartwood Institute's Powers of Darkness just to chill your bones.

    • 29 min
    Episode 53: Little Heart by Georgina Bruce

    Episode 53: Little Heart by Georgina Bruce

    Georgina BruceGeorgina Bruce is a British writer, born in the West Midlands of England but who has taught English in different parts of the world, not least in sub-tropical Okinawa in Japan before spending the last ten years or so teaching in less sub-tropical Edinburgh, Scotland.


    Little HeartLittle Heart is a dark tale that explores a woman's confused memories of her childhood and her conflicted relationships with her mother, once a film star, and her father who smells of ink and paper and at times is indistinguishable from a dark-beaked crow.


    Full of luscious imagery, the story reminded me of the work of Angela Carter and Shirley Jackson with its fairytale themes and dark twists.


    In the interview Georgina talks about her influences and the nature of her stories. 


    She has just finished a novella Honeybones, and this story comes from her very well-reviewed collection This House of Wounds


    Georgina's Links (http://www.georginabruce.com/tag/honeybones/)


    (https://undertowpublications.com/shop)


     on Amazon UK (https://amzn.to/2TBPpOw)


     on Amazon.com (https://amzn.to/2X2d1Ow)


    Call to Action! Patreon!A big thank you to my Patreon supporters. These ongoing pledges help me continue to produce the Podcast, paying as they do for hosting and other ongoing costs. If you have enjoyed listening to this, and other episodes, I would like to invite you to consider becoming a Patreon to help me produce more of what you enjoy!


    As well as helping me out, Patreons get exclusive content, usually in the form of stories that are not available for free elsewhere.


    If you could sign up, I would be extremely grateful.


    Tony


    Here's the Link (https://www.patreon.com/barcud)


    Support Us!Ways to support Tony to keep doing the show:


    Share and rate it! (https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/classic-ghost-stories-923395)


    Buy Tony a coffee (http://bit.ly/2QKgHkY)  to help with the long nights editing!


    Become a   Patreon (http://bit.ly/barcudpatreon)  to get additional stuff and allow the show to go on in the long term. 


    Facebook GroupWhy not join Classic Ghost Stories Podcast on  Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/classicghoststories/)  for the lastest news?


    MusicBeginning music ‘Some Come Back’ is by the marvellous   Heartwood Institute (https://theheartwoodinstitute.bandcamp.com/album/witch-phase-four)

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Episode 52 A Visit by Shirley Jackson

    Episode 52 A Visit by Shirley Jackson

    Shirley JacksonShirley Hardie Jackson was bon in 1916 in San Francisco, California and died in Vermont in 1965 aged only 48. 


    Though born in California, she attended Syracuse University in New York where she became involved in literary affairs. She published her first novel in 1948 when she was 32, but it was her short story The Lottery that brought her to public attention. Published in The New Yorker it divided opinion between those who thought it bold and daring and those who found it macabre and disturbing. In essence, like a lot of Jackson's work, it starts out in a realist, every day setting of a folksy rural community where everyone behaves just like we know they would, and then it turns out they have a mysterious lottery where the winner (or loser!) gets sacrificed for some undisclosed reason -- maybe just because it's tradition. She puts in such everyday details of community life that it's a real switch and bait as we think we're getting a home-town story and then it turns weird.


    Jackson's work has more than a touch of the surreal and I was reminded of the Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges as I was reading her collection Dark Tales recently. 


    Her novel The Haunting of Hill House was published in 1958 and is considered the best haunted house story ever written. I enjoyed it very much. She also wrote We Have Always Lived In The Castle towards the end of her life and I must admit I haven't yet read it!


    Jackson didn't take care of her health and ate and drank too much. This led to heart disease which killed her in 1965.


    Jackson didn't get on with her mother who seems not to have wanted her much and this seems to be echoed in themes of mothers and estranged daughters in lots of her stories. 


    Jackson was a wildly interesting character. She played the guitar, sang folk songs and could also play the zither. I wonder if she seems so interesting because we know more about her, being more recent, and I wonder if any of the old Victorian and older 18th Century Gothic writers were equally as quirky. Certainly Byron, Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft seem a wild crowd, and we know about them because they were famous and rich. 


    Jackson told people she was a practising witch and joked (?) that she put hexes on publishers and critics who offended her. This may not have been just a joke as these were the years of the first growth of Wicca and occultism was definitely a thing following Aleister Crowley, Jack Parsons and others. 


    Jackson suffered from extreme anxiety and saw a psychiatrist who prescribed barbiturates and amphetamines, and then other meds to counteract the effects of these. This cocktail probably didn't help much.


    A new movie of her life Shirley has come out this year 2020 but I can't see it because all the cinemas are shut due to lock down...


    There is a nice review a biography of Jackson called A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin in the New Yorker, and you can find it  here (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/17/the-haunted-mind-of-shirley-jackson)


    A VisitA Visit was first published under the title A Lovely House in 1950, and then reissued after Jackson's death in 1968 as A Visit The horror literature critic S T Joshi describes it as a 'quiet weird tale at its pinnacle' and refers to 'manner in which a house can subsume its occupants.'


    At first listen, or maybe even second, I thought, what the heck is this story about?


    Like last week's story, Mr Jones, this is a gothic tale. We have a large and rambling house which is full of mystery, we have an imprisoned woman in the tower (old Margaret), we have unreliable witnesses, I told trust Mr and Mrs Montague, or Carla one inch.


    When Margaret is being shown around the mansion, Carla ignores all her questions about the Tower. In fact, it is Paul who answers her question about who lives in

    • 59 min
    Episode 51 Mr Jones by Edith Wharton

    Episode 51 Mr Jones by Edith Wharton

    Mr Jones by Edith WhartonThis is the second Edith Wharton story we've read, the first being  Bewitched which was Episode 4 (https://podcasts.captivate.fm/media/7696635d-86ff-42d2-a2cf-317694d891d6/1747150-episode-4-bewitched-by-edith-wharton.mp3) . Wharton was an American of course but she spent time in England and set a number of her ghost stories there. 


    This story is the third of a series of stories where the house is a major character. In this story of course, the house is inhabited by the ghost of Mr Jones as we learn. 


    As normal with Wharton there is incredible craft in the shaping of this story. It is at least in part a mystery story and we are familiar with the mystery ghost story where the ghost is debunked at the end, not least in Scooby Doo, but also in Wilkie Collin's The Woman in White. We have the mystery of the house with the strange old servants. We realise early on that Mrs Clemm has something to hide and her niece Georgina who is portrayed as a clumsy idiot is actually the one whose information ties up the tale.


    We have locked room, conniving housekeepers, blind gardeners and a historical tragedy to boot. The poor deaf and dumb Juliana, locked up in the house by the evil Mr Jones on the orders of her philandering husband is a Gothic staple and Wharton knew this of course and probably drew the character knowingly with a nod to gothic tradition. 


    Wharton does a bit of foreshadowing that you might not get at first listen, but early on in the story when she is impressed with Bells, she muses about her ancestors who lived and died there and adds, unknowingly that to some of them, it may have been a prison! We later learn that it was indeed.


    Then when Lady Jane asks Mrs Clemm to take her to Mr Jones, Mrs Clemm agrees that he's not well; "He's between life and death as it were." This is in fact the literal truth but we don't understand that at this point and take from some figurative description. In fact, Mrs Clemm tells the exact truth: "He'd know you, my lady, but you wouldn't know him." "He's in no state for you to see him." Wharton must have had fun writing that.


    I think that the posh lady guests breaking off to crush over the Tempeltonia Recusa rare plant by the wall is probably an in joke that Wharton's friends may have recognised as a reference to their mutual acquaintances.


    She sees Mr Jones only once, when she enters the Blue Room to retrieve her friend's lost handbag. Her friend Stramer doesn't notice him, but Mr Jones is messing about in the citron desk where the incriminating papers are later found. We learn slowly, detail by detail that this Blue Room had been the prison of Juliana the poor shut-away wife.


    The first clue is the tomb of old Peregrine who died at Aleppo of the Plague and 'Also His Wife' unnamed. Things move on and we don't get another clue for a while.


    Then the next clue is them finding her portrait and Lady Jane mentioning that she might look so miserable because she was an inconsolable at his death. Stramer, a bright chap, says that they didn't dress like that as late as Peregrine's death so she was clearly miserable before he died.


    They identify the poor woman as Lady Juliana. Stramer is a font of knowledge. Not only does he know about fashion, but he remarks that they clearly used the Blue Parlour in those days, even in winter. She's leaning on the citron desk: it's here the secret of her fate is of course, though we don't know that at this point. And Stramer then mentions the family archives, which Lady Jane hasn't thought of yet. She only knows Mr Jones won't allow her access to them because the key is lost. Hmm. Convenient. Stramer says that in Mrs Clemm's hands chimneys smoke, keys get lost and locksmiths die.


    When they go to the Blue Room and Stramer's about to open the drawers of the citron desk, Lady Jane chickens out and as they leave she notices th

    • 1 hr 5 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
31 Ratings

31 Ratings

GJ_1981 ,

Wonderful Podcast!

First, Tony is an EXCELLENT reader. This makes a big difference to me. Second, I am always on the hunt for classic works of fiction in audio form (particularly in the ghostly or gothic or weird vein), and Tony has curated one of the best selections I’ve come across. So this podcast really hits it out of the park on both counts!

I’m a longtime fan of audiobooks, and over the years I’ve realized that when experiencing a story through the medium of another person’s voice, the nature and quality of that voice are as important as the nature and quality of the story I’m hearing.

I’ve downloaded and subscribed to countless podcasts that read classic works of fiction I already love or that I KNOW I will enjoy, and yet I just can’t get very far because (no offense to those other efforts; this is partly a matter of personal preference; and I sincerely appreciate all the good folks out there who work hard to make great works of literature freely available in audio form), but, as I say, although they do perfectly fine jobs of reading, the professional quality of Tony’s readings and of his production (Equipment? Software? Both? I’m not totally sure, but the SOUND quality is good) are a distinct level above. This allows me to get lost in the stories and thoroughly enjoy myself.

Likewise, the stories themselves are great. Many classics here that I know and love, but a nice balance of writers and stories I’m NOT already familiar with that still rank in quality among the old familiar classics.

By the way, I also love Tony’s insightful, conversational commentaries on the stories. I, personally, am a fan of these talky types of segments on podcasts, but the extra nice thing here is that, since they come at the end, listeners who just want pure story can dive right in (because each episode starts right in, after a very brief and atmospheric sort of intro to get you in the mood), and they can simply stop or skip to the next one when the story’s over.

For my money, I’ll listen to those commentary sections every time. I experience them as little moments of fellowship between reader and listener, between fellow fans of the same thing who enjoy sharing their reflections about the thing they are both here to experience.

nino de santisima ,

Monkeys paw 😈😈🔥

Perfect

Foy Greenwood ,

Well-performed

And very informative, regarding the author and themes. Great stories and writers! Thank you.

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