Halloween is upon us, so we’ve dug up some spooky (and a few not-so-spooky) books in Special Collections and Archives to set the tone. Everything previewed below, plus a few extra titles, are available at Special Collections and Archives on the fourth floor of Kennedy Library. Come by to get a closer look… unless you’re too scared…
A Treasury of Victorian Murder, by Rick Geary, is a murder-mystery graphic novel. The introductory remarks state “The Victorian Age was an especially delectable one for murder. The crimes of that era were characterized not only by the peculiar interpersonal pressures inherent in a rapidly industrializing, sexually repressive society, but by the energy and attentiveness of the popular press, then in the first blush of its sensationalistic power.”
The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain, by Charles Dickens, is a novella similar in theme and execution to A Christmas Carol. The edition captured here was printed in 1848 and bound in a luxurious combination of red leather, gold leaf, and marbling. Illustrations like the one above litter the pages of the book, and remind you to be creeped out (in case you forgot).
A Discovery Concerning Ghosts (1864) is definitely in the running for Weirdest Thing in Special Collections. This illustrated novella, dedicated to the ominous Ghost Club, aims to debunk (or bolster?) basically every belief ever held about ghosts. For example, this novella makes the “discovery” that “ghosts cannot, must not, dare not, for decency’s sake appear WITHOUT CLOTHES.” This discovery is nowhere near the oddest within the novella’s pages.
The Dwindling Party, by Edward Gorey, is a cheerfully illustrated pop-up book where (spoiler alert) everyone dies.
If after all that you’re still not quaking in your boots, we also have a set of three books from 1889 full of scientific illustrations of American spiders. Here are the titles of each volume of American Spiders and their Spinningwork: A Natural History of the Orbweaving Spiders of the United States, with special Regard to their Industry and Habit, to give a a clue: Volume 1. Snares and nest; Volume 2. Motherhood and babyhood: life and death; and Volume 3. Biological notes, description of species and plates.