“Bring Me a Light!”

The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories book cover

Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories – #4, by “J.M.H.” (Jane Margaret Hooper)

This story first appeared in 1861, in the periodical Once A Week.

Victorians – and those who proceeded them – were terrified of fire, and rightly so; buildings were built of material that burned easily.

So was clothing, and according to the introduction to this story, close to 40,000 Victorians were burned or scalded to death do to their clothing catching fire. “Bring Me a Light!” plays on these fears.

Our hero, Thomas Whinmore, tells us the story of his first visit to an estate left to him by a relative. Whinmore is warned by several people not to visit the home between sunset and moonrise, but – just like those fools who go into the basement in horror movies – he scoffs openly at their warnings and makes the trip anyway. There are ghosts and there is fire – but is that fire real or an apparition?

This author is listed as ‘anonymous’in the contents of the Valancourt book, but the story is signed with the initials J. M. H. (and a little joke), and a quick online search reveals that the author is Jane Margaret Hooper. It bears examining that the author is a woman, considering that most of the women in this story are either victims or villains, and that they are referred to in the voice of the male narrator as ‘belonging’ to him.

For those who don’t have access to (and who don’t want to buy) the Valancourt book, you can read the story free, online, courtesy of Wikisource.

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