Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Best Ghost Story 15 from 1800-1849 is "The Collier's Family" by Friedrich Motte Fouque
It's October and the perfect month to finish my countdown of the Top 40 ghost stories for the first half of the nineteenth century. So let's get on with it.
The 15th best ghost story is The Collier's Family by Baron Friedrich Heinrich Karl de la Motte Fouque (1777-1843), who just happens to have the scariest name in the countdown. This horror gem was first published in English in "Popular Tales and Romances of the Northern Nations," which was published in 1823. This three volume collection of tales by mostly German authors also contained "Wake Not the Dead." This is the third vampire short story we have on record and many attribute it to Ludwig Tieck, though this has not been proven as the story was never found among his papers.
Fouque is best known today for his novel "Undine" where a water spirit marries a knight in shining armor. In 1814 ETA Hoffmann, who appeared at spot 17 with "Mines of Falun" and whose horror story "The Deserted House" appears in The Best Horror Short Stories for this same period, translated "Undine" into an opera. But it is "The Collier's Family" that is the focus here, which includes a scary phantom brownie creature that haunts the collier's family. Collier is antiquated term for a coal miner and this story tops the other miner ghost story on the countdown, which is the previously mentioned "Mines of Falun," if for nothing else than originality.
In my short story collection Mailboxes - Mansions - Memphistopheles there is "The Brownie of the Alabaster Mansion" if you want to read a modern take on this creature that you are sure to find interesting! Tomorrow I will post a link to ghost story 14, so read quickly.