Riddell, Charlotte

Charlotte Riddell
30 September 1832 - 24 September 1906

a.k.a. Mrs J. H. Riddell. Irish author of social fiction as well as a large number of ghostly tales, Riddell is not widely known these days despite the fact a few of her short stories show up regularly in ghost story anthologies. A prolific and popular author in her time, Riddell struggled with the same fate that befell other successful women writers such as Charlotte Smith: writing to earn money to pay off the debts incurred by a profligate and irresponsible husband; Riddell died in near-poverty.

Sites:
Charlotte Riddell
An excellent Riddell site, with biographical and contextual information, a bibliography of her supernaturalist tales, various essays and perspectives, and more. Highly recommended. [Michael Flowers]
Biographical notethis link opens a new window
A nice emphasis on Riddel's Gothic-tradition works. [Peter Beresford Ellis, Irish Abroad]
Brief biographical note
Includes materials related to Riddell's professional struggles. [Women in the Literary Marketplace 1800-1900, Cornell U Library]
Brief biographical note
[Wikipedia]
Bibliography
[Literary Encyclopedia]
Bibliography
[Fantastic Fiction]


Etexts:
"Hertford O'Donnell's Warning"
Also known as "The Banshee's Warning."
- at HorrorMasters (PDF)

"The Last Squire of Ennismore"
- at Munsey's / BlackMask
- at HorrorMasters (PDF)

"The Old House in Vauxhall Walk"
- at Munsey's / BlackMask
- at HorrorMasters (PDF)

"Old Mrs. Jones"
Featuring one of Riddell's more malevolent ghosts, this tale was the basis for a 1966 episode (entitled "The Beckoning Shadow") of the British TV series (1966-1968) Mystery and Imagination.
- at HorrorMasters (PDF)

"The Open Door"
A classic Victorian examination of class and wealth and character, with a ghost, poison, attitude, and a lot of money at stake....
- at Munsey's / BlackMask (PDF)
- at HorrorMasters (PDF; not printable)

"Sandy the Tinker"
- at HorrorMasters (PDF)

The Uninhabited House
"A Terrible Vengeance" [1889]
Another Victorian classic, surprisingly oblique since we never learn anything directly about the murder that leads to ghostly manifestations, but very forward in terms of its thematic concern with issues of family, morality, class, and drowned young flirty women. Indeed, one of the sections of this story is titled "Found Drowned," which is also the title of paintings by G. F. Watts (1848 - 1850) and Vasily Perov (1867). Suicide by drowning was a common fate of Victorian women who were either pregnant out of wedlock or who had resorted to prostitution.
- no known etext, yet

The Uninhabited House [1875]
This novella is almost a compendium of standard C19 popular fiction tropes, bringing together the Victorian fascination with money and inheritance issues, the legal system, the "domesticated" gothic, mystery and ratiocination, suspense, and, of course, a house genuinely haunted by a ghost seeking that "justice" denied it by the Law. It even comes with the sort of happy ending that would make a Hollywood mogul smile. Like many other Victorian "haunted house" ghost stories — see B. M. Croker's "To Let" or Rhoda Broughton's "The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth" — it also reflects that common concern with the supernatural's financial impact upon real estate. All of which means, of course, that it's a fairly calculated piece of fiction, but it's worth the reading nonetheless.
This work, by the way, is another one of those Victorian Christmas ghost stories, published in Routledge's Christmas Annual for 1875. Click on the thumbnail image at right to go to a full-size image of the cover of this volume at Sensation Press.
- at HorrorMasters (PDF)
- at Project Gutenberg

"The Walnut-Tree House"
- at Munsey's / BlackMask
- at HorrorMasters


Essays and Reviews:
Review of Sarob Press edition of 4 Riddell tales, The Haunted River and three other ghostly novellas, edited by the noted ghost-story scholar Richard Dalby. [Mario Guslandi,infinityplus]



"Charlotte Riddell."