“Marsyas in Flanders” by Vernon Lee

“Vernon Lee” was the pseudonym of Violet Paget (1856-1935), a prolific author who was also a feminist and a pacifist. Paget’s supernatural fiction has been compared to that of M. R. James by Montague Summers, while scholar and critic Everett Bleiler noted that her stories “are really in a category by themselves…they deserve more than the passing attention that they have attracted.”

“Marsyas in Flanders” was written in 1900, and has been anthologized many times since. As you can see from the PDF below, we had already done a first pass on annotating this story, which means we fully intended to use it…right up until the final decisions. Although we ended up (regretfully!) not using it in Weird Women, we are still happy to share it with readers here.


“Good Lady Ducayne” by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Here’s one that really hurt…we really loved this story by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915), a popular British novelist who wrote more than 80 novels and a number of supernatural short pieces. “Good Lady Ducayne” is one of the most unique vampire stories of the Victorian era, and is also a beautifully-observed look at the place that both impoverished young women and wealthy older matrons occupied in the socioeconomic strata of the time.

In the final decision-making, though, the story’s length was our chief concern. Given its originality and superb craftsmanship, we hated to lose it, but are pleased to be able to share it here. Enjoy!


“Zulalie Laila” by Regina Miriam Bloch

Here’s a situation that’s as unusual as everything else about Regina Miriam Bloch: although we used her short fable “The Swine Gods” in Weird Women, we’d still like to share this story because it merits attention as well.

As we note in the introduction to “The Swine Gods”, Bloch is probably the most enigmatic author in Weird Women. She published only two collections – The Swine Gods and Other Visions (1917) and The Book of Strange Loves (1918) – before all but vanishing. Over the next twenty years, Bloch,who had also been a popular poet and had received very favorable reviews for the two collections, would publish only a handful of reviews and poems, mainly in spiritualist or metaphysical publications. She died in London in 1939.

Both of Bloch’s books have become very rare, with copies fetching hundreds in the secondhand market. The Swine Gods is a short book made up of dreamlike fables, but the stories in Strange Loves are more traditional in form (all are historical pieces). “Zulalie Laila” paints a lovely, eerie portrait of a woman struggling to deal with her fading beauty, and the extraordinary measure she attempts to retain it.


“The Weird of the Walfords” by Louisa Baldwin

Louisa Baldwin (nee MacDonald) was one of four sisters who became famous for their marriages and families. Her sister Alice would become the mother of Rudyard Kipling, and after Louisa married the industrialist Alfred Baldwin she gave birth to a son, Stanley, who would go on to become the U.K. Prime Minister. Unfortunately, much of Louisa’s life seemed to be unhappy, which is likely why she turned to writing.

We really liked the haunted bed idea at the center of “The Weird of the Walfords”, but the story does rely on purple prose, and in the end we felt it wasn’t quite up to the standards of some of our other ghost stories. Still, it’s an entertaining read, and is charged with a subtext of eroticism not often found in ghost stories of the period.


“The Man With the Nose” by Rhoda Broughton

Rhoda Broughton (1840-1920) was a Welsh writer who was known for the sensationalist aspect of her work. Her uncle, the famed author J. Sheridan le Fanu, assisted her in finding her first publisher; later on, Rhoda mentored other women, include Mary Chomondelay.

This was a hard story to reject! We really loved the use of mesmerism (something that was very popular in the nineteenth century), and some of the strange, almost surreal scenes. There’s nothing else like it in Weird Women, but sadly we excluded it mainly due to length.