Skip to main content
Senate House Library

Weird tales for winter nights


Written by
Emma Fitzpatrick, Serial and Digital Resources Coordinator

Senate House Library celebrates Halloween and looks ahead to the long, winter nights by taking a closer looks at items from the British Library Tales Of The Weird series held in our collections

The nights are drawing in and soon it will be Halloween. Let’s celebrate the spookiest of seasons by taking a closer look at the British Library’s Tales Of The Weird series and the books from this series which Senate House Library holds in its Modern Collections.

A pile of four books with their spine titles visible. From top to bottom the titles are: Tales of the Tattooed, The Ghost Slayers, Into the London Fog, and Evil Roots

British Library Tales Of The Weird

The British Library first started publishing their Tales Of The Weird series in 2018, following on from the success of the British Library’s crime fiction imprint, the British Library Crime Classics. Both series aim to make some of the rarer material from the British Library’s collections available to new audiences by re-publishing them in an affordable paperback form. Many of the books in the British Library Tales Of The Weird series are anthologies of short stories, although some works from this series do include novellas and other longer forms of fiction. Each book focuses on a particular author or a theme, such as botanical themed weird fiction or weird fiction by women. Each book includes a short but well written introduction to each theme, which provides information to help both seasoned readers of the weird and new readers to the genre to get the most out of each volume. Short author biographies also introduce each work in the collection. These well edited and entertaining story collections from the British Library Tales Of The Weird series make the perfect companions for a long winter evening.

Two books with the titles Evil Roots (left) and Tales of the Tattooed (right). The left book has a green cover with a hand emerging from a bush. The right features a women with a spider tatoo on her back and a spider's web to her left.

A closer look at some of the books from this series which you can find in Senate House Library’s Collections

Evil roots : killer tales of the botanical gothic / edited by Daisy Butcher

Evil Roots showcases an incredible variety of plant-based gothic fiction from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A new reader of botanical gothic fiction might be tempted to think that the “killer plant” story is cliched. However, this book proves that idea wrong with a well chosen selection of short stories which ably illustrates just how menacing plants can be in the right author’s hands. From a vine holding onto past wrongs in Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s Giant Wisteria to a plant with uncomfortably human characteristics in Emma Vane’s Moaning Lily, this collection brings together some of the best examples of a small but fascinating sub-genre of gothic fiction.

Tales of the tattooed : an anthology of ink / edited by John Miller

Tales of the tattooed brings together thirteen short stories which explore the art and history of the tattoo. Some of the stories in this collection, including W.W. Jacobs’ A Marked Man, reflect well known cultures of tattooing such as the long association between sailors and tattoos. While others reveal some of the more surprising parts of the history of tattooing, including the fashion for tattoos amongst wealthy socialites which swept Europe and America towards the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This fashion for tattoos, which included well to do tattooed women as well as men, caused some controversy which is explored in Branded by Albert Payson Terhune. This book presents a varied selection of stories on an unusual and fascinating topic, with an introduction by John Millar which gives the reader a concise and informative summary of some of the diverse cultures of tattooing from around the world and their history.

Two book covers with the titles The Ghost Slayers (left) and Into the London Fog (right). The left is a red cover with the image of a wolf surrounded by fog. The right is yellow depicting the statue of a gargoyle (right) looking out onto a cityscape.

The ghost slayers : classic tales of occult detection / edited by Mike Ashley

The Ghost Slayers combines the strange allure of weird fiction with the thrill of detection. This short stories in this anthology introduce us to several detectives who fearlessly confront the strange and arcane, including William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki the Ghost-Finder and Joseph Payne Brennan’s Lucius Leffing, the Psychic Investigator. As with many of the books in this series, The Ghost Slayers contains some stories by well know authors and other stories which are quite rare, including The Case Of The Fortunate Youth by Moray Dalton. This story was originally published in The Premier Magazine, copies of which are now extremely rare. Its republication in The Ghost Slayers makes this compelling tale available for a new set of readers to enjoy. This book is full of entertaining stories, offering something for both lovers of weird fiction and detective fiction fans.

Into the London fog : eerie tales from the weird city / edited by Elizabeth Dearnley

Into the London Fog presents a collection of stories which explore the weird side of the big city. As Elizabeth Dearnley so eloquently puts it in her excellent introduction to this book, these weird tales focus on “the contrast between civilised, brightly lit modernity and darker, atavistic fears about what might lie just beyond the glow of the streetlamp.” Each story is set in a different part of London, taking us on a tour of the city where the familiar becomes strange, mirrors hold the key to unsolved mysteries and portals to magical lands appear amongst the quiet streets of Stoke Newington. This anthology includes The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes, which was influenced by the unsolved murders committed by Jack the Ripper and which reflects on the dangers that come from living so closely with strangers in a crowded urban environment. The works in this anthology, both fictional and non-fictional, offer us a new way of looking at the city that many of us know so well. Do we dare step out into the London fog?

A pile of books from the British Library Tales of the Weird series in front of a bookshelf

Explore more gothic and supernatural fiction at Senate House Library

Works of gothic and supernatural literature, such as these British Library Tales of the Weird books, are strongly represented in Senate House Library’s collections. You can find more information about our supernatural fiction holdings and other works in our collections related to the paranormal, the occult and the magical by looking at our Research strengths of our collection website - The paranormal, the occult and the magical.

If you are interested in learning about our other areas of collection strength, you can learn more about them on our Research strengths of our collections website.