In Haunt

An intriguing collection of short stories titled ‘Tales of Mystery & the Macabre’ is the book of choice for the next online read-along and discussion, in a new initiative hosted by Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.

Tales of Mystery & the Macabre

Although the Grade II* listed Victorian building on Plymouth Grove is currently closed to visitors due to Covid-19 guidance, the house team have decided to launch an online means of connecting with the public – a book group looking at a different piece of Elizabeth Gaskell’s fiction every month.

Taking the format of a read-along on the Gaskell’s House Twitter and Facebook pages, anyone can take part – just read the monthly chosen book and participate as the conversation unfolds. The house is politely requesting a £3 donation from each reader taking part (with the link to do so online available here:, the funds of which will go towards to restoring Elizabeth Gaskell’s bedroom to back how it looked at the time; a highly historically significant piece of restoration that Haunt covered in an article here. Continued contribution to the upkeep, maintenance and restoration of historic buildings matters more than ever, at a time when donations usually made by the visiting public are not incoming. Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is a rare example of a surviving Regency-style villa, elegant in appearance and where Elizabeth Gaskell herself lived between 1850 - 1865.

By Mark Tattersall

Last month the first edition of the read along took place, with Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1854-published social novel North and South being the featured text. The public response was considerable, with conversation rapidly unfolding on the set date of 8 April across Gaskell’s House Twitter and Facebook pages, with contributors from all over Europe and even as far away as Malaysia and the US! Interactions included responding to themes within the text, people sending a range of interesting blog links, North and South inspired pictures and even a discussion about Victorian waterbeds!  An impressive £250 was raised through those taking part, with those funds significantly helping towards the continued restoration of the building.

May’s book of focus is therefore highly anticipated… Tales of Mystery & the Macabre. Who knew that Gaskell also entered into the horror genre within her work? The collection of stories contains some of Gaskell’s most dark and delving work, with the schedule for discussion as follows – focusing on a set story for most weeks in May, with a general discussion in the final week:

Lois the Witch – Wednesday 6 May – From 6pm

The Grey Woman – Wednesday 13 May from 6pm

The Old Nurse’s Story – Wednesday 20 May from 6pm (this week is also set to feature an exciting surprise!)

General discussion of the rest including The Poor Clare, The Doom of the Griffiths and The Grey Woman – Wednesday 27 May from 6pm

Many of these stories are available online via Kindle, and through the internet shops of local and national bookshops.

More read-alongs are in the planning for the months ahead, set to feature favourites such as Cranford and Mary Barton, as well as Gaskell’s Gothic novels!

For more details on the ‘Tales of Mystery & the Macabre’ read-along, visit the Gaskell’s House blog post here, and read more about the house at the website:

Photo credit:  Image 1 - thanks to Elizabeth Gaskell's House, Image 2 - by Mark Tattersall 

By Emily Oldfield 




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