Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849; Mary Burnet by James Hogg


It's been awhile since I last posted scary ghost story 30, maybe too long. Without further delay I pick James Hogg's (1770-1835) Mary Burnet as the 29th best ghost story for the first half of the nineteenth century. The scary story is the classic case of an "innocent maiden" who is wronged and, well . . . I'll let you read for yourself what happens. 


James Hogg, commonly known by his penname "The Ettrick Shepard," was self-educated. He eventually made his way out of the rustic life of country living in Scotland. He began writing short stories and articles for Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine and befriended Sir Walter Scott. While Hogg's novels did not leave a deep mark on literature, his short stories were penned at a very high level. In my estimation he is greatly overlooked as a writer of horror and ghost stories in this important half century. Two of his stories made my list of the Top 40 horror short stories for the period in review, but none rose to the level of the top dozen that I include in The Best Horror Short Stories 1800-1849, which recently won a literary award. Hogg has a way with dialogue that takes one back to the old Scottish brogue and in the scary story of "Mary Burnet" he does not disappoint in this regard. 

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