Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Best Ghost Story 13 from 1800-1849 is "A Night in a Church" by Cornelius Felton
Thirteen is a very lucky number when it comes to this countdown of the Top 40 ghost stories for the first half of the nineteenth century. That's because the story in spot 13 is one of the most horrific of its kind and it has a storied (every pun intended) past. The scary story was published anonymously under the initials C.C.F. After conducting a bit of sleuthing, I was able to learn that Cornelius Conway Felton (1807-1862) used this pseudonym early in his career.
The ghost story is A Night in a Church and it was published in 1831 when Felton was 24 years old. Three years later he would graduate Harvard College and from 1860-1862 become its president. After reading "A Night in a Church" you will agree that this story is the most frightening ever penned by a future Harvard president in the first half of the nineteenth century (perhaps ever). It had a nice publication run, being republished as late as the 1870s.
If you want to read the Top 10 ghost stories for this period, they are contained in The Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Ghost Anthology that I recently edited with story background and a list of ghost stories read.