Monday, September 18, 2017


While this work does not exactly date from the Victorian era, at least it is from the early Edwardian. I stumbled upon it quite by accident, as well as other very interesting works by Black Heath Editions, presented solely in kindle format on

I am so pleased I did. I will reap many happy rewards from this discovery.


"I've got it! At least it fits in with all the details we've found. She must have been of royal blood; for in that fourth picture she's with the man with the black beard, who has the symbol of royalty, and she's nearly as large as he. In this first scene she's making love to this duck in the white skirt, who is very much smaller, to show he's a mere man. He's coy, and has his hands before his face. I suppose that means he does not want to come into the game. Those three other fellows, who are lying on their backs over here, must have been three chaps who did not come to any good end by her. They all have their hands over their faces, you see; same position as the leading man. I guess she was a pretty strenuous lady, judging from these next two pictures. My word, they are frank, aren't they? In the fourth picture the king is reprimanding her for her ways, and she's got her back to him. On this wall, she's evidently being tried for her sins, and the king is pronouncing sentence. And here—hi! look at this—they're walling her up in this very tomb, alive. Here they're dragging her along that passage outside, with the tomb open and ready; and in this last one, the king is putting in a stone. There's the lamp standing on the stone block, with a slave doing something to it." He drew a long breath. "Well! by George! But why did they shut her up alive? Why didn't they poison her or cut her head off, or something that way?"

In the Dwellings of the Wilderness is the first novel of C. Bryson Taylor and was originally published by Henry Holt and Company in New York City in 1904.



The edition under consideration here was published by Black Heath Editions in 2014. Black Heath Editions republishes lesser known works from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for incredibly reasonable prices.


Charlotte Bryson Taylor was born in Washington D. C. on 7 March 1880, the daughter of a U.S. Navy admiral. Charlotte was very well educated and by the time she was twenty-years old, her writing appeared regularly in newspapers and magazines. As with Riddell (link), Charlotte had to deal with ingrained opposition to women earning a living. She signed her works "C. Bryson Taylor." It is assumed this was done to conceal her gender.

A few years after publishing her second novel, Nicanor: Teller of Tales in 1906, (which was less well received) and suffering from several personal tragedies, Charlotte left the publishing world. She died in June 1936 in New York City.


In brief, this tale is set in Egypt where several American archaeologists and their group of native workers discover a lost pharaonic tomb. Quite by accident, they uncover and manage to enter a secret chamber where entombed inside lay the body of a royal lady. This entombed woman was not a mummified corpse in the traditional sense. The body was not prepared nor embalmed. The body was not bandaged nor placed in a sarcophagus. Nothing resembling the iconic image of the mummy was present. The creature here is the victim of intentional entombment while yet alive and natural mummification due to environmental factors.

On the walls of the tomb is carved the tale of this woman. Her entombment was punishment for her craven deeds. One explorer is trapped alone for a short time in the tomb and sees (or imagines he sees) the desiccated mummy reforming into a beautiful woman and tempting him.


The creature in this story does not resemble a mummy in the more common and popular sense, it is more like a ghoul. In Arabic lore, the ghoul or "ghul," whose source lay in ancient Mesopotamian mythology, was said to have "lured lustful men to their doom by taking the guise of beautiful women."i This is exactly how the creature, the re-animated corpse in this tale, hunted her prey; luring various men (archaeologists and native workers alike) away to their doom.

Middle Eastern lore is rich and possesses a long, long tradition in myth and folklore of undead creatures. A singular example of the depth of Middle Eastern myth as it relates to the undead can be found in a passage from the four-thousand-year-old tale of Gilgamesh. The goddess Ishtar threatens the loosing of all hell with the words:

I shall bring up the dead to consume the living,
I shall make the dead outnumber the living.

While not directly concerned with mummies, such an ancient story mentioning, even in passing such as here, the idea of the dead rising to attack those still alive implies that the concept of the man-eating undead is deeply rooted in the region's culture. This, coupled with the Ancient Egyptian obsession with the afterlife, makes for lasting imagery.


And lastly, it is worth noting that as In the Dwellings of the Wilderness was published in 1904, the previous year saw the publication of Bram Stoker's The Jewel of Seven Stars (link). While there seems to be little doubt that In the Dwellings of the Wilderness was influenced by The Jewel of Seven Stars and both share plot elements in common; there are differences as well:

  • most significantly, the creature in both works was once an Egyptian princess.
  • the Egyptian princesses were not mummified in the traditional sense.
  • both princesses were guilty of some heinous infraction.
  • In The Jewel of Seven Stars, an elaborate ritual was required to reanimate the princess. While with In the Dwellings of the Wilderness, one just had to open the door.
  • In The Jewel of Seven Stars, the name of the princess and her back-story are critically important to the tale. In the Dwellings of the Wilderness, does not even give the princess's name.
  • In The Jewel of Seven Stars, the protagonists fight in a more spiritual type of attack. In the Dwellings of the Wilderness's creature is much more straightforward.

To be honest, I was surprised to learn that The Jewel of Seven Stars and In the Dwellings of the Wilderness were not the earliest works of fiction to revolve around a female mummy as protagonist. Some other, earlier works of mummy fictionii:

  • Théophile Gautier's "The Mummy's Foot" (1840). A female mummy's spirit haunts the man who possess her mummified foot.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's "Some Words With a Mummy" (1845). A mummy is awakened by electricity. He has a conversation with the awakeners.
  • Louisa May Alcott's "Lost in a Pyramid; or, The Mummy's Curse" (1869). A mummified sorceress curses the man who defiled her corpse.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Ring of Thoth" (1890). A tale of love and betrayal. A man at long last reunites with his lover.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle's "Lot No. 249" (1892). A man uses magic to reanimate and control a mummy to wreak vengeance. This is the first example of an animated mummy as a mobile and sinister creature.


Of the four iconic literary monsters of the nineteenth century, vampires, werewolves, mummies and ghosts, vampire tales were extremely popular and ghost stories by far the most common, it is the ancient dead of mummies that hold special interest for me, stories such as Taylor's In the Dwellings of the Wilderness.



Print Resources

Digital Resources

Taylor, C. Bryson. In the Dwellings of the Wilderness: A Classic Novel of the Mummy's Curse (Black Heath Gothic, Sensation and Supernatural) Black Heath Editions. 2014. Kindle Edition.

Online Resources

Anderson, Douglas A. "C. Bryson Taylor." Lesser-Known Writers. 28 December 2011 Accessed 03 September 2017.

Colavito, Jason. "More on the Gilgamesh Zombies." Jason Colavito. 26 October 2011. Accessed 14 September 2017.

Evans, Dewi. "In the Dwellings of the Wilderness (1904) by C. Bryson Taylor." Mystery and Imagination. 29 July 2013. Accessed 17 August 2017.

Gallo, Daniel B. "The History of Zombies." The Shofar. 27 November 2012. Accessed 14 September 2017.

Getz Jr., James R. "Ishtar and Zombies." Ketuvim. 16 September 2009. Accessed 14 September 2017.


amb, Robert. "How Ghouls Work: Ancient History of the Ghouls." 11 October 2011. Accessed 14 September 2017.

[i] Lamb, Robert. "How Ghouls Work: Ancient History of the Ghouls."

[ii] Note: this is not a complete nor thorough list.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Few Interesting Points Concerning THE CASEBOOK OF CARNACKI THE GHOST FINDER by William Hope Hodgson.

"No ghosts need apply."[i]

In the occupation of "occult detective," which I have touched on before via Simon Iff (link), the only prerequisite IS the involvement of a supernatural element or force.[ii] Therefore, a return to that uniquely Victorian / Edwardian occupation of occult detective is here presented in The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson.


"I was helped to my knees by the Captain and the butler. On the floor lay an enormous horse-head out of which protruded a man's trunk and legs. On the wrists were fixed great hoofs. It was the monster. The Captain cut something with the sword that he held in his hand and stooped and lifted off the mask, for that is what it was. I saw the face then of the man who had worn it. It was Parsket. He had a bad wound across the forehead where the Captain's sword had bit through the mask. I looked bewilderedly from him to Beaumont, who was sitting up, leaning against the wall of the corridor. Then I stared at Parsket again.

"'By Jove!' I said at last, and then I was quiet for I was so ashamed for the man. You can understand, can't you? And he was opening his eyes. And you know, I had grown so to like him.

"And then, you know, just as Parsket was getting back his wits and looking from one to the other of us and beginning to remember, there happened a strange and incredible thing. For from the end of the corridor there sounded suddenly, the clumping of a great hoof. I looked that way and then instantly at Parsket and saw a horrible fear in his face and eyes. He wrenched himself 'round, weakly, and stared in mad terror up the corridor to where the sound had been, and the rest of us stared, in a frozen group. I remember vaguely half sobs and whispers from Miss Hisgins's bedroom, all the while that I stared frightenedly up the corridor.

"The silence lasted several seconds and then, abruptly there came again the clumping of the great hoof, away at the end of the corridor. And immediately afterward the clungk, clunk—clungk, clunk of mighty hoofs coming down the passage toward us.

"Even then, you know, most of us thought it was some mechanism of Parsket's still at work and we were in the queerest mixture of fright and doubt. I think everyone looked at Parsket. And suddenly the Captain shouted out:

"'Stop this damned fooling at once. Haven't you done enough?'

"For my part, I was now frightened for I had a sense that there was something horrible and wrong. And then Parsket managed to gasp out:

"'It's not me! My God! It's not me! My God! It's not me.'

An excerpt from "The Horse of the Invisible"

The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson brings together the nine Carnacki tales, the entirety of the original Carnacki mythos, into a single volume. This edition, published in 2006 by Wordsworth Editions, is part of the Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural series.[iii] The General Editor of this series is David Stuart Davies, a noted expert on Sherlock Holmes. Mr. Davies is the author of the very instructional Introduction to this volume.


William Hope Hodgson was born in 1877. At the age of 13, he ran away from home to the sea. In 1891, he began his seaman apprenticeship. He was harshly picked on by a junior officer, subsequently he took up judo and body-building. Hodgson returned to land in 1900 and by 1901 had established what today might be called a gym. It would close in 1903.

His first tale was published in 1904. A few years later, 1908, Hodgson would publish his classic The House on the Borderlands. 1910 saw the serial release of the first of the initial six Carnacki stories.

Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Hodgson signed up for military service in July 1915. Interestingly enough, he joined the artillery corps rather than the navy. In 1916, he was so severely injured that he was discharged. Surprisingly, following his recovery, he re-enlisted. William Hope Hodgson was killed during a German artillery barrage at Ypres in April 1918.

What further tales might Hodgson have had Carnacki relay over scotch and cigars? No one will ever know.


Much digital ink has been spilled discussing the publication history of Hodgson's nine Carnacki tales. This is my contribution.

As a side note, there is no record documenting when each story was written. Therefore, the publication date shall have to stand instead.

Originally, the first five Carnacki stories were published in the magazine The Idler, January through June 1910; with no story in May 1910. A sixth tale appeared in The New Magazine in the January 1912 issue.

  • "The Gateway of the Monster"–first publication in January 1910 issue of The Idler.clip_image004
  • "The House among the Laurels"– first publication in February 1910 issue of The Idler.
  • "The Whistling Room"– first publication in March 1910 issue of The Idler.
  • "The Horse of the Invisible"– first publication in April 1910 issue of The Idler.
  • "The Searcher of the End House"– first publication in June 1910 issue of The Idler. Though there is some difference of opinion whether it was May or June. my research confirmed it was June 1910.[iv]
  • "The Thing Invisible"– first publication in January 1912 issue of The New Magazine.

In an essay detailing the publishing history of these tales, Marcus Rowland wrote:

The sequence in which the original six stories were published suggests that Hodgson contracted to write six stories for The Idler, but either missed the deadline for the May 1910 issue (which had no Carnacki story), or had The Thing Invisible rejected then subsequently sold it to The New Magazine.[v]

Other sources state that this was a five-part series that was later followed by another story. Whether any of these suggestions are correct or it is some other explanation, is unknown.


These initial six Carnacki tales were published together in an anthology, in 1913 by the Everleigh Nash publishing house of London, titled Carnacki The Ghost-Finder.[vi]


Following the release of this 1913 work, three other Carnacki tales were published:

  • "The Haunted Jarvee"–first appeared in The Premier Magazine (or The Empire Magazine – here too, there is some . . . difference of opinion[vii]), March 1929.
  • "The Hog"–first appeared in Weird Tales, January 1947.clip_image008
  • "The Find"–first appeared in 1947 – see below.

In 1947 (or 1948 according to some sources), Mycroft & Moran (a subsidiary of Arkham House press) released the first complete collection of all nine of Hodgson's Carnacki stories. Below is a listing of the tales as they appear in 1947's Arkham House release – Carnacki The Ghost-Finder. Interestingly enough, this edition altered the order of the tales from the 1913 Carnacki The Ghost-Finder for an unknown reason.


  • "The Thing Invisible"
  • "The Gateway of the Monster"
  • "The House among the Laurels"
  • "The Whistling Room"
  • "The Searcher of the End House"
  • "The Horse of the Invisible"
  • "The Haunted Jarvee"
  • "The Find"
  • "The Hog"

Based on Arkham House's 1947 publication, this 2006 Wordsworth Edition from the Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural series preserved the order of the tales. However, Wordsworth did change the title of the collection to The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder.


On a side note, one aspect of the Carnacki tales that really appealed to me is that other authors have taken up Hodgson's mantle and continued to tell the tales of Carnacki's adventures. And I have come to really enjoy those I have explored. Two authors I would like to note especially.

Josh Reynolds, a favorite of mine and a noted author of popular fantasy and science fiction, placed Carnacki in a long line of "Royal Occultists." He took up the story of Carnacki's successor, St. Cyprian and his adventures following World War I.


Another favorite and who, in my opinion, was able to capture the flavor of Hodgson's work as well as the feel of other Victorian / Edwardian era writers, is William Meikle, author of:


and soon enough.


Meikle's works have the sense of really good fan-fiction.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading Carnacki's adventures. Yes, the stories are formulaic. However, that only made any deviation, no matter how slight, all the more noteworthy. As well, all of the tales are set in a nebulous chronology. Time is little more than faded background, utilized almost exclusively to provide context, establishing the tales in relation to the narrative.

Carnacki was not my first exploration of occult detective fiction (link), and I am quite certain that it will not be the last.



Print Resources

Hodgson, William Hope. The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder. Wordsworth Editions: Hertfordshire, 2006.

Schweitzer, Darrel (ed.). Discovery Classic Horror Fiction I. Gillete: Wildside Press, 1992.

Online Resources

Barnett, Thomas. "Thomas Carnacki, king of the supernatural detectives." The Guardian. 30 June 2010. Accessed 28 July 2017.

Evans, Dewi. "Carnacki, the Ghost Finder (1913) by  W .H. Hodgson." Mystery and Imagination. 20 September 2013. Accessed 25 August 2017.

Gafford, Sam. "Carnacki Order." William Hope Hodgson. 16 November 2012. Accessed 27 August 2017.

McVicker, Terence. Terence McVicker Rare Books - Bats over Books. 2017. Accessed 27 August 2017.

Rowland, Marcus L. "Publishing History." Carnacki The Ghost-Finder. 1996, revised 1998. Acccessed 24 August 2017.

Sweeney, Seamus. "The Casebook of Carnacki The Ghost Hunter." SF Site. 2014. Accessed 24 July 2017.

Wikipedia. "Carnacki." Wikipedia.

Accessed 24 July 2017.

Wikipedia. "Occult detective fiction." Wikipedia.

Accessed 18 August 2017.

[i] As said by the world's foremost consulting detective in "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire."

[ii] Occult detective stories combine elements of detective fiction with that of supernatural horror fiction.

[iii] A fine series of reprints and collections which, as I have stated in previous posts, I wholeheartedly endorse.

[iv] Gafford, Sam. "Carnacki Order." William Hope Hodgson. 16 November 2012. Accessed 27 August 2017.

[v] Rowland, Marcus L. "Carnacki The Ghost-Finder: Publishing History." 1996, revised 1998.

[vi] Warren, Alan, "Full Fathom Five: The Supernatural Fiction of William Hope Hodgson," in Discovery Classic Horror Fiction I.

[vii] Gafford, Sam. "Carnacki Order." William Hope Hodgson. 16 November 2012. Accessed 27 August 2017.