Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Review: The English Ghost by Peter Ackroyd

THE ENGLISH GHOST by Peter Ackroyd

Product Details

ISBN: 9780701169893


Imprint:Chatto & Windus



RRP: $35.00

An enormously enjoyable spooky collection of ghost-sightings over the centuries, full of the spirit of place, in true Ackroyd style.


The English, Peter Ackroyd tells us in this fascinating collection, see more ghosts than any other nation. Each region has its own particular spirits, from the Celtic ghosts of Cornwall to the dobies and boggarts of the north. Some speak and some are silent, some smell of old leather, others of fragrant thyme. From medieval times to today stories have been toldand apparitions seen - ghosts who avenge injustice, souls who long for peace, spooks who just want to have fun.

The English Ghost is a treasury of such sightings – which we can believe or not, as we will. The accounts, packed with eerie detail, range from the door-slamming, shrieking ghost of Hinton Manor in the 1760s and the moaning child that terrified Wordsworth’s nephew at Cambridge, to the headless bear of Kidderminster, the violent daemon of Devon who tried to strangle a man with his cravat and the modern-day hitchhikers on Bluebell Hill. Comical and scary, like all good ghost stories, these curious incidents also plumb the depths of the English psyche in its yearnings for justice, freedom and love.


The English Ghost is a collection of reported sightings of ghost sightings and encounters in England over its history. These encounters are included in the format of diary entries, newspaper clippings, anecdotes and oral stories.

Each sighting was only briefly covered in this book and at times it was unfortunate as there appeared to be soo much more to be told about the history of the ghost story.

Most of the stories are from the distant past as there does not seem to be anywhere near as many reported ghost sightings in the past twenty or so years. It makes you wonder if this is because there is so much technology around now that it is pretty hard to concoct a believable ghost story with sufficient evidence to back it up.

Regardless, this was a very interesting book.

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