Born in Kent England in 1873, Walter de la Mare worked in The London Office of the Standard Oil company, but it was his poetry and fiction writing for which he is still remembered today. His works have been favorably cited by such titans of the genre as H.P. Lovecraft, Ramsey Campbell and Reggie Oliver. The list below consists of all the stories by de la Mare of which I’ve read at this point by Oder of publication. My favorites of these were “Seaton’s Aunt”, “Out of the Deep” and “All Hollows” and “Bad Company”.
1. “The Listeners” (1911)– This poem tells of a man knocking upon the door of an empty house and of the bodiless spirits listening within. You can listen here for free: https://player.fm/series/esol-extras/the-listeners-by-walter-de-la-mare
2. “The Promise” (1919)– A spectral woman leaves behind a package in the compartment of a train which captures the fascination of the man who discovered it.
3. “The Riddle” (1903) – As the years pass, all the children who live with their aging grandmother disappear one by one into a chest from which she warned them to stay away. You can listen here for free: https://poddtoppen.se/podcast/1550859179/the-horrorbabble-podcast/the-riddle-by-walter-de-la-mare
4. “Seaton’s Aunt” (1922) – This novelette centers around a boy who reluctantly agrees to visit a schoolmate’s house where he lives with his domineering aunt after he receives a gift from him. His schoolmate Seaton claims his aunt is in league with the Devil and that she listens in on his thoughts while she keeps a constant watch on him. The visit is a strange one as Seaton’s Aunt is an intriguing character. She definitely has a subtly antagonistic relationship with Seaton but is generally pleasant with the narrator, although there often seems to be underlying motives at play with her. I think the fact that you can never really tell if she is in fact evil or not makes her an interesting character. Unquestionably, it’s Seaton’s Aunt herself which drives this excellent tale. I highly recommend it. You can listen to it here for free: https://www.hypnogoria.com/gl_seatonsaunt.html
5. “Looking Glass” (1923) – A young girl named Alice has several ominous conversations with a woman in the garden behind the house where she lives. Is this woman a ghost?
6. “Out of the Deep” (1923) – A man named Jimmy is reluctant to move into the house he inherits from his uncle due to the unhappy childhood he experienced there, particularly at the hands of their butler Soames. Eventually he does move in and subsequently begins seeing spectral servants. He lives in deep fear of the bell push which would likely summon members of this ‘Night Staff’ as he refers to them. This is an effectively creepy novelette which you can read more about and listen to a reading of at this link: https://www.ghostpod.org/classic-ghost-stories/out-of-the-deep-by-walter-de-la-mare/
7. “All Hallows” (1926) – After a long journey to reach a seaside cathedral known as All Hallows, a man is surprised to find it virtually abandoned save for an old caretaker. The old man relates how the place has been overtaken by a dark force which has been transforming it supernaturally to serve a different master. This is effectively eerie novelette. You can listen to a reading here for free: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVM1u11UEpI
8. “Bad Company” (1955) – A man traveling on a London subway is simultaneously disturbed and drawn to another passenger who has a darkness about him. He follows this stranger and learns his grim secret in this great, atmospheric horror tale. You can listen here for free: https://pseudopod.org/2013/03/18/pseduopod-315-bad-company/
Article by Matt Cowan