Miss G Linnaeus Banks (Isabella Varley Banks 1821-1897) First edition, first printing published by Abel Heywood (Manchester) and Simpkin, Marshall & Co (London)
Illustrated by G C Banks
Good: 303pp, Original red cloth with black stamped titles, ruling and decoration, gilt stamped titles to spine. Rubbing to corners and spine tips, wear/rubbing to extremeties and general age soiling to the cloth, spine has dulled/faded, titles are still clearly visible. Titles to the upper board are still very bold. Endpapers and half-title are toned, some light areas of foxing here and there, pages are tightly bound and very clean. Superb, atmospheric frontispiece illustration depicting the ghost appearing on the cliff edge from the story 'White Woman of Slaith'. The illustration to the title page "Gateway of the old gaol, Durham" - Is from "The piper's ghost." An extremely scarce collection, very few ever appear on the market. COPAC returns only three copies held in institutions. Another superb title written by a female author, completely overlooked by most genre bibliographers. The deeper I go into this, the more evident these 'oversights' become. It seems to me, of them all only Richard Dalby stands tall as the champion of female, supernatural authors. This is the first copy I have handled in fifteen years.
*In her introduction, the author states that she has been forced to come to the conclusion of Hamlet
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamed of in our philosphy;"
She goes on to say; "No apology is needed for these stories of fays, and wraiths and phantoms, who are said to have come as messangers of good or ill, whether in the gloaming, or through the night, the night which surrounds the living and breathing world; or for her title, since elves and spirits, tricksy or solemn, shun the garish day, and like the stars, be only visible Through the Night".
Contains many excellent ghost stories, with a handful of north country folklore stories. Contents are as follows; 'A World Between', 'The Pride of the Corbyns', 'Wraith Haunted', 'The Piper's Ghost', 'St Cuthbert's Cup', 'The Fairies Cradle', 'My Will', 'Judgement Deferred', 'A Dour Weird', 'The White Woman of Slaith', 'Larry's Apprenticeship', 'The Fate of the Fosbrookes', 'A New Leaf', 'The Plainbury Mystery' + Appendix.
The fascinating appendix offers the author's inspiration for many of the tales, the best of which I believe is 'The White Woman of Slaith', banks writes; "There is, on the North-east coast, a belief still current amongst the fisher-folk in a misty white woman who touches the boats foredoomed to wreck. And on the Northumbrian Coast is a fishing station with a name similar to the one I have adopted, which is perched upon the rocks, and looks down on a sea washed beach, where the original village stood, until it swept utterly away in one night of terrible storm and devastation".
A passage from the story itself; "Was she still dreaming, or had her fancy conjured up a ghost to haunt her? There in the pale moonlight the tall, ethereal form of a woman robed in white, with a hood or shawl of densest black, was slowly making the circuit of the 'United Brothers', one shadowy hand gliding over the smooth surface of the hull. Too much appalled to scream, Hilda gasped for breath. Her head swam. She clutched the low wall for support. Another moment and the weird figure was gone".