“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.


“The Bell in the Fog” by Gertrude Atherton

Like many of the early female authors, Gertrude Atherton was a suffragist, a prolific writer whose works fall into a variety of genres and forms, and she lived long enough to see a silent film made from one of her novels (Black Oxen). Like her contemporary Emma Frances Dawson, she spent most of her life in Northern California, where she had a tempestuous friendship with Ambrose Bierce.

As you’ll see from our introduction, “The Bell in the Fog” made it far enough along in the editing process that we had already written the bio for the beginning of it, and we were sorry to lose this one.


How we created the book

Lisa Morton and Les Klinger with Ghost Stories

When our book Ghost Stories: Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense came out in early 2019 (to gratifying rave reviews!), we decided we’d had so much fun putting that together that we wanted to do another book. We talked over a few ideas (and may still work on those), but the one we both felt most passionate about was an anthology of fiction by early female horror writers.

Fortunately, our Ghost Stories publisher Pegasus was also on board with that idea, so we got to work by May of 2019. As much as we’d read to find the tales for Ghost Stories, we went even deeper for Weird Women. We started by reading critical studies, and then scoured bookstores, libraries, and the internet for some of the great women we’d read about in the critical studies. We also read old periodicals and anthologies, looking for female names. In one case (Regina Miriam Bloch), we even made an appointment at the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy in the University of Riverside’s library to view two story collections that have languished in undeserved obscurity (and we’re proud to say that our book includes the first reprinting of Bloch’s fiction in over a century).

We soon amassed a substantial list of stories and authors we loved – we started with fifty, which is sadly more than one book can hold. The process of narrowing that list down was excruciating! There were a few we very much wanted to include but we finally decided against, mainly because there were other stories we’d already voted in that employed similar themes or settings. We wanted readers to see how wide-ranging the work of these wonderful writers was.

We began writing the little introductions for each story and annotating them (to explain some of the obsolete terms or references for modern readers), and even then we had to finally reject a few stories we’d already worked on.

In the end we chose twenty-one stories…but we love the ones we couldn’t use so much that we still wanted to share them with everyone, so we’ll post those stories at this blog from time to time.

We think you’ll enjoy these astonishing, frightening, and beautifully-crafted works as much as we did.

— Leslie Klinger and Lisa Morton