E. F. Benson has long been one of my favorite ghost story/weird fiction writers. His expansive index of spooky tales are as diverse as they are inventive. Although he’s not been entirely forgotten these days, I do feel he’s under-appreciated and deserves to be considered among the all time greats alongside Campbell, Blackwood, and Lovecraft. I covered several of his stories in two previous posts which you can read here: https://horrordelve.com/2014/07/03/13-haunting-tales-by-e-f-benson/ and here: https://horrordelve.com/2016/03/06/more-e-f-benson-horror-tales/. As an added benefit this time, I’ve included links to free readings of each story below, read by Richard Crowest on his excellent The Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson podcast. There are readings for a lot more of Benson’s stories there as well.
The Stories (listed in order of publication date):
1. “Gavon’s Eve” (1906) – A pond near the ruins of an old Pict castle is well-known for its excellent fishing but appears to have also been the site of murderous, witches’ ceremonies in the past. Listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/gavons-eve/id490499570?i=1000496715501
2. “The Man Who Went Too Far” (1912) – A man seems to grow younger and more vibrant after he rejects Christianity in favor of ignoring pain and discomfort and seeking joy through a kinship with nature. He hears the flutes of Pan often as he begins sleeping outside, but he eventually discovers there’s a dangerous side to growing closer to Pan. Listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-man-who-went-too-far/id490499570?i=1000122291935
3. “In the Tube” (1922) – A passenger has a terrifyingly realistic vision of a man committing suicide by jumping in front of the London Tube (subway). Later, he meets the man from this vision in person, someone he hadn’t previously known. He must discover what the vision means? Listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-ghost-stories-of-e-f-benson-read-by-richard-crowest/id490499570?i=1000503454547
4. “Machaon” (1923) – A new spirit guide takes over the medium during a seance providing clues to its name and giving some valuable information to a man seeking answers that science has failed to offer. Listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/machaon/id490499570?i=1000398355644
5. “Spinach” (1924) – This rather tongue-in-cheek ghost story involves a brother and sister operating as fake psychics who go on vacation to a haunted cottage. There they find themselves interacting with an actual disembodied spirit who asks for their help. It turns out this spirt is being haunted in the afterlife by the body of the man he killed just before dying himself from a lightning strike. I enjoyed the use of automatic writing and spirit photography in this tale. Listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/spinach/id490499570?i=1000394219117
6. “The Temple” (1924) – Two men, who are interested in archeology, rent a house located near an ancient ring of standing stones in Cornwall. They believe it to have once been the site of ceremonial human sacrifices and manage to uncover evidence which supports this theory. An unseen, dark influence soon befalls them. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-temple/id490499570?i=1000478853928
7. “A Tale of an Empty House” (1925) – After he discovers a beautifully secluded, seaside town when his car breaks down, a man invites his friend to meet him there for a holiday. Whenever the tide is low in this little town, a scenic marshland area is revealed. On a little islet inside the area is an abandoned house which he investigates. He begins to believe a lame man lives there, but a ghostly encounter he and his friend have tells a different story. Listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/a-tale-of-an-empty-house/id490499570
8. “And No Bird Sings…” (1926) – A man passing through woods, notices he doesn’t perceive any sign of birds or any other animal during his travel. He also realizes the place lies within a shadow for which there is no source. When he and his friend go back to investigate, they feel something ancient there. The two attempt to hunt down the presence which has taken up residence in the woods and has been draining blood from the wildlife. Listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/and-no-bird-sings/id490499570
9. “The Dance” (1934) – After a cruel, wealthy middle-aged man falls off a cliff and dies, his spirit returns to haunt his much younger wife and his male secretary, the two having obviously fallen in love with each other. In life, the man delighted in playing cruel games with their emotions. How much worse will he be for them in death? This is another great ghost story by Benson. Listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-dance/id490499570?i=1000394259311
10. “The Sanctuary” (1934) – A man uncovers a satanic history connected to the house he inherits from an Uncle he didn’t know well. He recalls strange things about a rare visit he had there as a child but thought little about until the house’s secrets begin to be revealed to him. The man is told his uncle had to be cremated immediately following his death due to the body having suddenly contracted a horrible infestation of aggressive flies which could not be exorcised. This is an excellent story, which gradually builds a sense of mystery and dread. You can read Jay Rothermel’s thoughts on this story here: https://jayrothermel.blogspot.com/2017/06/black-flies-worms-and-lord-of-lies.html and listen to Richard Crowet’s reading here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-sanctuary/id490499570?i=1000443481676
Article by Matt Cowan
2 thoughts on “10 MORE E. F. BENSON EERIE TALES”
I really enjoy Benson, thanks to being introduced through your blog. I have two paperback collections though both are small and not complete. Most of this list I haven’t read.
He was such a great writer of supernatural tales. I have The Collected Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson which is pretty comprehensive, although not 100% complete. https://www.amazon.com/Collected-Ghost-Stories-F-Benson/dp/0786703652