E(dward) G Wolverson (1853-1890); scholar and academic, and as a writer of ghost stories, dubbed by his publishers, ‘the Master of the Macabre’.

 The editors of this volume have asked me to give a brief introduction to the life and works of E G Wolverson, and I shall say at the outset that I have misgivings about the enterprise. The enterprise being not merely the introduction itself, but the very publication of this collection. I do not think Wolverson would have wanted to have seen his books back in print; indeed, I am quite sure not. And I do not think that the motives behind their reissue are of the best either; the letter I received this morning urging me once again to change my mind and write about Wolverson speaks – and I quote – of ‘the public’s fascination and appetite for the ‘Master of the Macabre’. I put it to you that the fascination is not with the stories themselves, which I suspect to be no better than the rest of their genre, but with the author himself, and a rather prurient curiosity about the manner of his death. I put it to you, too, the reader, holding this book in your hands, that the aforementioned appetite is sensationalism of the worst kind, and I say, shame on you, sir, shame on you.

 But nonetheless, and much to my surprise, I find myself writing. There is a storm outside; there is a draught in my study that I cannot locate nor still; the very candle by which I work is guttering. And I am not without a sense of humour, no matter what my students claim, and I can see the irony of a night like this, the very setting of so much of Wolverson’s work, a setting which lets the mind fancy about ghosts and witches and wendigoes. So, here I put this before you, if not with my blessing. And this way I may at least hope, with the book on sale, that Margaret may be given some money.

 I do not say that Wolverson’s interest in writing supernatural fiction was beneath him. Every man must have a hobby. I myself am quite a keen golfer, with a handicap of sixteen above par, and I take great pleasure in that, but would also venture that it in no way intrudes upon my academic reputation. The same was not true of Wolverson, and that was his curse. He was a scholar of some undeniable merit, and although many critics would claim that his analysis of fourteenth century poetry yielded little fresh insight, I’ve never heard anyone suggest that his research was anything less than thorough and his theories anything less than cogent. But there is surely no question that whatever his academic prowess, in the last few years of his life any renown he had was for his ghost stories. It wasn’t even as if he had published that many; he wrote one a year, as I understood it, always performed on Christmas Eve during the university celebrations. This was the sum total of his literary fame, or shall I say, notoriety: no more than three thousand words per year, and all three thousand melodramatic mumbo-jumbo.

 I attended his final ghost story reading. There was an undeniable excitement in the air, and I allowed myself to share in it in spite of myself. The undergraduates all dressed in their gowns, and drinking wine and ale, and eating pork and steak, and singing Christmas carols and songs of an altogether more secular nature. Wolverson sat up on high table, of course, and looked shrunken in on himself, not conversing, not eating, barely taking part in the festivities at all – but then, when the sherries were served, and cigars were lit, the lights were lowered, and Wolverson got to his feet – and it seemed to me that he was suddenly transformed. He seemed much taller, much younger, and at once the room fell silent in ready anticipation; there was no need to call for silence, this performance is what we all had been waiting for. And Wolverson read, and we all shivered in the hope of something frightening that would put our nerves jangling and let reel our darkest imaginings. I do not think Wolverson was a natural actor. Even as a lecturer he had a propensity to mumble, and as a reader, merely reading the words in front of him, he was inclined toward halting monotone. And I do not think that the story was a good one, even by his standards: the tale of a ghost in a hotel preying upon the residents within seemed to me rather stale and obvious, and painfully lacking in theme or subtext. But what could not be argued was the authority with which Wolverson spoke, the way there was no other sound to be heard save his voice for the full half hour, in a hall large enough to fit five hundred (and had done so, easily, to bursting) and had only so recently rung loud with the unfettered boisterousness of youth. As Wolverson read of his ghosts and demons, there was a change in the atmosphere. It seemed to grow colder. It seemed to grow darker. There was an almost preternatural stillness to the air, I fancied that time itself had stopped, or at least slowed, that I would look outside the window and the branches would only be inching in the wind and the snow would fall at half speed. And by the time he had finished, the world seemed a more mysterious, and unsettling, and more remarkable place to live.

 I only discussed his horror writing with Wolverson on two occasions, many years apart. And his answers were contradictory, and I like to think that the first time was the correct answer nonetheless – back before he’d made a name for himself, even so, back before he’d been defined and limited by his own peculiar imagination. I asked him, simply enough, why it was he put such focus upon his tales of the uncanny, and I asked, I think without judgment – and he blushed (as well he might) and told me that it was really all about trying to make people laugh. That was it. He thought that within his flights of fancy there was something so absurd that it would amuse people, that delight could be taken in the dissonance between what they expected and what they received, like the way a child giggles in a hall of mirrors seeing himself fat or tall. But something always went wrong with the punchlines to his jokes, he said. What he’d hoped would elicit a chuckle would instead produce a gasp; the tightrope, he argued, between comedy and horror was really very narrow, and his problem was he just kept falling off it. As a little boy his attempts to make his parents laugh only made them recoil; he gave his sisters nightmares with the jolly adventures he’d dream up for their dolls to entertain them. And pretty soon he realised that if he couldn’t win anyone’s heart with ready wit, he wouldn’t try; he’d let that dissonant way he looked at the world – a way that deep inside still would make him chortle, he alone still found full of jest – be as unnerving and twisted as one could wish. If he couldn’t make them love him, he’d make them fear him a little. And at this he blushed even deeper, and of course I knew the reason why.

 The reason why was Margaret. Of course he loved Margaret, just as I did; she was an outsider. We were all of us outsiders there, at a university which was based upon privilege and rank, where most students could trace back their family’s college attendance as far as their great grandfathers. Wolverson was the first person in his family to go to university; so was I; his father was in trade; so was mine. And it sounds an unlikely contrivance now that we met on our first day there, but it was true; it was as if we wore badges telling the other undergraduates that we didn’t belong, they smelled out we were frauds at once, and the way they so blatantly excluded us made it all the easier for us to find each other. And we became firm friends immediately. And very soon, once we’d found the nerves to speak to her, Margaret was part of our group too – a female student, back in the times before that became a point of fashion, and from the middle classes as well. Wolverson was very shy of her, I recall, and it was hard for him to introduce himself, as soon as he even got close he’d wring his hands and start to stammer so he looked less like a first class academic in the making than a babbling simpleton – I was, I think, much smoother with her, I was able to say hello and tell her my name and comment upon the weather and ask her the time. But it was to his credit that it was Wolverson who invited her to go punting with us – he came back to the halls one day, and threw himself down on the chaise, and he looked so red I thought he was having a seizure. “I’ve done it,” he said, “I’ve asked her out. She’ll go punting with us on Sunday afternoon at two o’clock sharp.” I pointed out to him that I didn’t know how to punt, and nor did he; at this he turned even more red, he hadn’t thought of that. So for the next four days we neglected our studies, we spent our time on the river trying to master how on earth one can steer a wooden boat with a pole. I fancy by the time Sunday came both of us had achieved a certain halting proficiency; we had stopped falling in, at any rate; and we both had the blisters on our hands to prove it. But when Margaret came to join us, all of Wolverson’s training went in an instant, he didn’t know what to do with that pole, whether to push it or pull it or wave it about like an idiot – and I must admit, I too, I was tired and the weather was warm and I was not at my best. Margaret watched us struggle with the pole; we were both getting irritable with it, and with each other. “May I?” she asked, ever so gently, and we stepped aside, and she took the pole, and she took control, and Wolverson and I sat in the back and enjoyed the afternoon as she punted us up and down and all over the river.

 I would say, where Wolverson and I were concerned, that I was the more attractive. I was more confident; I was taller; I had dark hair, where Wolverson’s was wispy and blonde like a girl’s; I was specialising in John Milton, who is the greatest poet of the English language, and Wolverson’s interest lay in Geoffrey Chaucer, who had palpable talent, of course, but was rather too inclined towards bodily function jokes, and has always struck me as something of a dilettante. It was understandable that it was me that Margaret fell in love with. But this in no way affected our friendship with Wolverson – and indeed, we became an inseparable trio; Margaret and I would walk the streets of the city hand in hand, and Wolverson would bound about us good-naturedly like an amiable dog trying to amuse. It worked. Margaret called us ‘the Three Musketeers’ – and I didn’t like that, I thought that as students of English literature we should really avoid a reference to Dumas and concentrate instead upon our own heroes. I suggested we be called ‘the Three Metaphysicals’, after the great poets, Donne, Herbert and Marvell; but it didn’t catch on; no one could agree which one was Donne, which one was Herbert, which one was Marvell; after a while I gave up trying to persuade them and let Margaret and Wolverson have their way.

 It occurs to me now I can’t recall which poet was Margaret’s own area of specialist interest. I’m sure it was one that I didn’t disapprove of, however; I would remember.

 Later that term we celebrated our first Christmas together. There was a formal dinner on the Christmas Eve, and we wore our gowns, and ate, and drank, and looked quite the picture of academia, I think. And Margaret had had an idea; that we should have our own private party afterwards, in her room, and each person would bring along an entertainment to perform. There was wine, and I think it was where I smoked my first cigar; I’m pretty sure it was Wolverson’s first cigar, and he cried through the smoke, and we laughed; it was Margaret’s first cigar too, and she puffed away quite proficiently, and I felt very proud of her, I remember thinking that she was my girl. There was a dozen of us in all; Margaret’s social circle was rather wider than ours. One student sang a ballad, another played his violin really very reasonably indeed. I read aloud my own translation of one of Virgil’s Eclogues, and it went down very well, and afterwards I was given a round of applause, and I remember making a little bow. It was Wolverson’s turn. “I’m going to read a story I’ve written,” he said. “Can we have the lights off, please?” Someone laughed and pointed out that if it was dark he wouldn’t be able to see to read; he hadn’t thought it through! Wolverson said quietly that he’d rehearsed it a lot, he knew his story by heart.

 And I remember how different it was in the darkness. Some of our number made jokes, but they were uneasy jokes, and Margaret called for silence. And Wolverson began. As I’ve said, he was not a natural performer, but I think his nervousness did something to lighten his shy monotone, it gave the piece a wavery inflection. “What stuff is this!” said one student, Baines, halfway through, and Margaret rounded on him; she told him bluntly that he had to shut up or leave. Baines’ interruption had sounded scornful, of course, but I knew where it had come from; a desire to break the atmosphere, to emphasise that what we were listening to was really just nonsense, there was nothing to be afraid of. And Baines didn’t leave, he couldn’t leave, none of us could.

 I can’t recall the details of the story now, and I see it isn’t one that Wolverson ever collected for publication. Quite possibly it lacked the sheen of the more practised stories he would later write; quite probably he lost it. The plot naturally enough sounds ridiculous, as most plots do when boiled down to synopsis: even Milton can’t escape that. It was something about an old curse, and a man who awakens it by reading a book, and the book (I think) was found in a crack in a wall of an abandoned church, or an abandoned monastery. And the hapless man is pursued by a ghost who drives him to suicide, setting himself on fire. Wolverson was the last person to perform that night, because after the lights were turned back on no one was quite willing to continue; I was just glad I’d got my Eclogue out first. Wolverson apologised. He could quite see he’d destroyed the party. He hadn’t meant to.

 It had hardly been an auspicious debut, but it was astonishing how its reputation spread. By the beginning of the Trinity term, Wolverson was being approached by students who had never deigned to speak to us before. They were asking whether he would perform it again. I knew Wolverson didn’t want to. He was, as I say, a naturally shy man. But he found it hard to say no, especially when it seemed that friendship (or, at least, acceptance) was being offered to him at last. He asked Margaret what he should do, and my girlfriend said she thought he should try again – and if it would make him feel better, she would be there too to support him. At this he agreed. He performed the story another four times, I think, and then he added another story, and then a third, and it was a cold Winter that took its time to thaw, and everybody seemed to be in the mood for something dark and creeping. And Wolverson’s name became something that was known on campus – even though, as I warned him, it was for his frivolous fictions; his Middle English prowess, by anyone’s standards, left much to be desired. By the time Baines killed himself Wolverson had an identity – and, as his best friend, so had I.

 Student suicide was a fairly common phenomenon around examination times, but what made Baines’ one unusual was that it occurred in March, and mid-term at that; with fewer opportunities to distract us, his death occasioned no little interest. He left no note. His friends said they were quite surprised, because he hadn’t even hinted taking his life was under consideration. And it was the manner of the death that really caused comment. Most students liked to hang themselves, or took poison, or, if they were of an especial melodramatic bent, threw themselves off the bridge. Baines had set fire to himself.

 It was clear where he’d got the idea from, of course. And Wolverson was appalled. He came to me one night, and he was shaking, so Margaret and I didn’t turn him away, although I must confess I was a little put out. He asked us whether we thought he should write to Baines’ parents to apologise. (We said no.) He asked whether he should confess his involvement to the police. (Definitely not.) He asked whether he should stop his ghost stories – and at this Margaret and I disagreed; I felt it’d be inappropriate for Wolverson to write any more of them, even ones that didn’t involve self-immolation of some kind or another. In truth, I was rather tired of having a reputation based upon my knowing a spook writer – I felt it was high time I found a reputation all of my own.

 It was around this point that Margaret and I broke up. Wolverson came to me and asked if he could step out with her instead. His hands were wringing and he was stammering, he looked as pathetic as he had when I’d first met him, he was that frightened. And I told him that he was welcome to try his hand. That I’d had enough of her. That I’d used her up. But I suggested he might not have much luck knocking against that particular door. “Oh, no, you don’t understand,” he said, and he looked truly wretched. “Margaret’s asked me out. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t mind.”

 I didn’t see much of Wolverson or Margaret after that. It really wasn’t personal, and I still regarded them as friends. But I don’t think they were quite as subtle in their love as they might have been; on a Sunday you could see them kissing on a punt, and I thought that lacked a certain class. And at Christmas Wolverson was asked by the senior staff whether he would perform a ghost story. No longer something hidden behind the doors of drunken undergraduates, but as a part of the formal celebrations. I can only imagine how terrified he was. I imagine Margaret got him through it. I wasn’t in attendance at the revels that year, I agreed to go home and spend the holiday with my family.

 We rubbed alongside each other quite comfortably over the next few years. Whenever we met, we would greet each other affectionately enough, with protestations that it had been far too long, that we should all get together again soon, the Three Musketeers forever, that we were still all so close and dear. And when I had an invitation to the wedding, I genuinely considered going. But of course I’d found new friends, and I didn’t need Wolverson or his girlfriend any longer, his fiancée, his happy little wife. I won a first class honours for my degree, of course, and was offered any place I wanted to go and study for my doctorate and teach: I chose Oxford. Wolverson got his first just barely, I understand, and was kept on right where he was. I think they took some pity on him. I think they liked his Christmas ghost stories. And there was no need for us to meet again. He was fourteenth century, I was seventeenth; we were kept apart by entire centuries of difference.

 I didn’t speak to Wolverson again for a very long time. There were the Christmas cards for a while, of course, but I rather think he stopped writing to me before I stopped writing to him. It was fifteen years before I had a letter marked ‘Wolverson’ again – and that was surprise enough, before I realised it was initialled M J, not E G. I still didn’t think of Margaret having a surname like that. I couldn’t.

 Margaret told me she was passing through Oxford the following week; would it be possible to have lunch with me for old time’s sake? I wrote back at once, and assured her I would; and I followed her request that I should be discreet, not to mark the envelope so that it was clear it had been sent by me, and I would normally have found such fuss rather irritating, but I decided to indulge her. It led me to believe, of course, all sorts of idiotic things. That for fifteen years Margaret had loved me, and only me. That finally she had worked up the courage to say so. None of this chimed with the Margaret I knew, of course, the woman who had taught us how to punt, how to smoke cigars, how to (yes) love. But it was a happy fantasy all the same.

 We agreed to meet on a Thursday, in a cake and tea shop that one of my undergraduates recommended, somewhere quiet. I was shocked when I saw her. She hadn’t aged well. I could see the resemblance to the girl I’d known, but it was a resemblance one would find in a mother – she had always had a fleshy figure, with cheeks so plump they dimpled when she smiled, but now she’d thinned, and it made her look hard and plain, and when she smiled the smile had nowhere to grow. Her eyes were dead. We had tea. I asked her how she was. She said she was well. I asked her how Wolverson was, and at this she sighed. She said he was well too, she believed. She stressed the ‘believed’, as if there were some cause for doubt, as if she might not be the best person to judge. I asked her why she had come. I told her I did not believe she was passing through to anywhere, and I was right. She told me that Wolverson was a different man. I asked her if he hurt her in any way, and at this she looked rather offended. She said that he had days of mistemper, but the mistemper was always with himself; he was remote; he seemed, if anything, and she picked the word carefully, haunted. I laughed and told her that would seem appropriate for those little spine chillers of his, and she attempted a laugh back. And all the while she wouldn’t look me in the face, and at first I thought this was out of shame, that she wanted to apologise, and my heart went out to her, her embarrassment was apology enough. But as our time wore on, and she still wouldn’t look at me, and she still wouldn’t tell me she regretted the way we had parted, I rather decided I wanted a spoken apology after all. “Could you go and see him?” she asked. “He wants to see you. He needs an old friend. And he’s too proud to ask.” I told her that I would think about it.

 But that was in August, and I had a new term’s lecturing to prepare, and a new paper to complete. In December I received my annual invitation to the high dinner on Christmas Eve at my alma mater, and as always I threw it into the dustbin. But something made me pull it out and reconsider.

 I saw Wolverson perform that last time. I didn’t recognise him at first. If Margaret had aged, that was nothing to her husband. He was a man in his late thirties now, but he didn’t look a day under fifty. And a badly worn fifty at that – his hair had greyed, he wore a drooping beard that did nothing to hide how his face sagged. And he was hunched – as he sat at dinner, he seemed bowed over the food, as if in some grim obeisance towards it. I didn’t let him see me, of course. I kept my distance.

 And I decided that this was all a mistake. That I should get out before I was identified. Get out before Margaret saw me, and made it impossible for me to leave. But no one looked at me, and I searched the room for her, I looked hard, and Margaret wasn’t there. And then Wolverson read his ghost story. He performed. As I say, I don’t think he performed it well. I don’t think it was a good story. But the world seemed to shift, and I decided I had to explore what this new world was before I got back on the train to Oxford and lost myself once again within the old one.

 It was strange. After the impact his story had made I would have expected Wolverson to have been flooded with well-wishers, students and academics alike congratulating him. That had certainly been the way when he was an undergraduate performing his ghost stories for the first time – and how shyly he had received those compliments, how he had blushed. But now, though he was a bona fide celebrity, everyone ignored him. The lights were turned back to full, he sat down morosely, stared at his food, prodded at some vegetable matter with a fork.

 I went to see him.

 “My God,” he said. “Is it you? Is it really you?” And his face lit up, and years fell off it in an instant – not enough, I should add, he was still pushing fifty, but it was an improvement. “Did you like my story?”

 “I’m afraid I arrived too late to hear it,” I said. And at that his face fell so glumly, and I wished I could call back the lie. I wanted to reassure him, I promised I’d come to the next year’s.

 He indicated I should lean in, he wanted to say something to me in confidence. “There won’t be another year’s,” he said. “I’m getting out of it. I’m getting out of the ghost story racket.”

 I told him I was pleased to hear it, and he nodded seriously.

 “Can we talk in private?” he said. “Can you come to my rooms?”

 And I said yes.

 He seemed properly affectionate towards me as he showed me in. As if all the years of silence hadn’t mattered a jot. He showed me around his study, waited for my approval.

 “More than serviceable,” I said.

 “I’m sure your rooms in Oxford must be…”

 “Well, yes,” I said. “But that’s Oxford.”

 He nodded.

 I told him that academia would be delighted he was giving up his spook stories, that he had become something of a laughingstock. And he smiled and said, “Indeed, indeed!” and nodded, like a crusty old don, like the crusty old don he’d become, wanting to make a good impression on his bright young pupil.

 “I should have listened to you in the first place,” he said. “That’s the truth of it.”

 I asked him why he’d written horror stories in the first place. And I expected the same answer he’d given me so many years ago. But it was different.

 “Because,” he said, “horror has to find a way out into the world.”

 I didn’t quite know what to say to that. He looked apologetic. Wine, would I like some wine? To ease the mood, I said I would. A cigar? Why not, I said. We lit cigars, and as always, he never looked comfortable with a cigar, it looked ridiculous jutting out of his mouth like that, his eyes watering all the while. “This is good,” he said, “this is fine, having you here again, yes, yes.” I asked him how he was, generally. Like Margaret, he said he was well. I asked him how Margaret was. Well, he believed. I said I was pleased.

 “They’re not stories,” he said suddenly.

 I asked him to repeat himself.

 “They’re not stories,” he said. “They’re all true.”

 I scoffed at that. Asked him whether some sort of ghoul scaring hapless hotel patrons was true.

 “No,” he said. “I’m not saying it happened. But it’s true all the same.” He poured me another glass of wine. “But,” he said, “I’m stopping that now. Before it’s too late. And there’s nothing they can do to me worse than what I’ve done to myself and to Margaret.”

 He asked how I was. I said I was well. He asked if I had a wife, was she well? I said I didn’t have a wife, but if I had one, I’m sure she would be well, well. I told him to explain what was going on, I told him to stop dancing around the matter like a student who hasn’t prepared his tutorial.

 “The stories don’t die,” he said.

 Wait, I asked, his ghost stories? I understood the print run had been rather small.

 “Any stories. Do you know why Chaucer wrote? Do you know why Milton wrote?”

 I said I’d spent an entire lifetime discussing why Milton wrote.

 “So they’d never die,” said Wolverson. And he grinned at me then, and he showed all his teeth, and at that moment I had a flash of fear, I had the most certain knowledge that my old friend was quite mad.

 “They’re kept alive in the books,” he said. “In all the books, they live on. And they come to me, you know. They stand over me. They stand over me at night, when I’m alone.”

 I asked him whether Chaucer came to him, and he said he did. I asked him whether he could talk to Chaucer, and he said he could. I told him that must be useful for a lecturer in Chaucerian studies, he could ask him for all sorts of tips. But Wolverson wasn’t listening to me, and couldn’t be chivvied along by my good humour.

 “They’re all trapped in the books,” he said. “And they’ve had enough. They want to die. I’ve got to set them free. Posterity just isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.”

 I asked him then about Margaret. He told me he didn’t see much of Margaret any more, he slept alone in his rooms. I asked him how Margaret felt about that. He said it didn’t matter, he had to help the ghosts, they wouldn’t come unless he slept alone.

 “The stories make you write them,” he said. “They tell you they want to be let out into the world. Let them out, and they promise they’ll leave you alone. That’s what they told Chaucer, and Milton, and the rest of them, that’s what they tell me. But they’re liars. There are always more of them. Always more, filling your head, blocking out the light.”

 But I reminded him he only wrote one story every Christmas.

 And he gripped my hand, and I recoiled at the touch, it felt like old man’s skin, it felt like thin paper. “I write one every day,” he said. “I write a new story every single day.

 He asked me where I was sleeping that night, and I told him I had a hotel in town. He said I should stay with him and Margaret, and I replied that I wouldn’t want to put them out at Christmas. He made me promise I would visit him the next day, and I said I would.

 I went then and got on the next train back to Oxford. It was a long wait, and it was snowing. But I felt better for it.

 As I left him, and wished him a happy Christmas, he said to me again, “I should have listened to you. I should always have listened to you. You were my best, my dearest friend.”

 And he said, “I’ll do my best to last as long as I can.”

 Wolverson didn’t even last the year. ‘Ghost Writer Dies in Blaze’, said the newspaper of December 29th. It went on to report that the ‘Master of the Macabre’, E G Wolverson, had burned to death in the great libraries of the university where he had made his home. They suggested it was suicide, that he had set fire to himself whilst gazing out on all the great works of literature he held in such high regard. There was no note. The article went on to say that he is survived by his wife, Margaret, and two children, John and Abigail. I never knew he had children.

 The article of course doesn’t explain many things. Why kindling was found all around the library itself, as if he’d wanted to set fire to the whole collection. (Not a single book was even scorched. The university reported that this was a stroke of luck.) Nor did it explain why, had Wolverson wanted to kill himself, he’d not doused his body with a flammable agent like alcohol or gasoline first, that might have hastened the process. Self-immolation otherwise would be such a slow and painful way to go.

 I wasn’t invited to the funeral. I wrote to Margaret offering my condolences. I told her in the kindest of terms that she would be welcome to visit me in Oxford, at any time, for tea and cake. She hasn’t written back yet.

 There has been renewed interest in Wolverson’s fiction. I understand why the publishers have wanted to get his complete ghost stories back into print, in one easy volume like this one. As I say, I am not sure it is what the author would have wanted.

 And I had said no. I wouldn’t write this introduction. For that reason, and more. Because although Wolverson called me his best and dearest friend, he was wrong, as he was about so very many things.

 But the publisher keeps writing to me. They won’t take no for an answer. Every day I receive a new letter, longer, more insistent than the last. I have never heard of the publisher before. I do not even know where I can send this introduction. They have not furnished me with a return address.

 I can only hope that now I have written this out, that they’ll keep their promise, and will leave me alone.

 Wolverson suggested to me he had hundreds more stories he’d written secretly. No one in the press has made mention of them, so I’m assuming they were not found amongst his personal effects. Maybe Wolverson managed to destroy them in time. Maybe he never wrote them at all. Maybe, as I suspect, they are hidden – and for his sake, they should remain hidden. For pity’s sake, leave the man alone, let him rest in peace.

 As for these, now back in print – I’m sorry, Edward. I’m truly sorry.


 The following collection is composed of the two anthologies, Ghost Stories for a Winter’s Night (1885), and More Ghost Stories (1887). They represent the complete known horror fiction of E G Wolverson, ‘Master of the Macabre’.