Haunted Houses, Ghosts & Spectres

Due to the increasing popularity over the last few months, thanks largely to Usborne’s Anna Howorth and actor Reese Shearsmith, this page has received a lot more attention and therefore is currently undergoing an overhaul to bring it up to date. I had previously displayed scans of the book in its entirety, but despite being out of print for over 30 years, I have found out that Haunted Houses, Ghosts and Spectres is still very much in copyright and I couldn’t in all good conscience continue to present it in this way any further.

Following a discussion with Anna, I found that I can still show a certain percentage of the book here as long as there is relevant commentary to accompany it. Therefore, at some point in the near future, I’ll be rewriting this article with much more content to justify displaying as much of the book as I am allowed.

I think it’s important to point out that I have not been forced to do this – this is a decision I have come to out of respect for Anna and the amazing work she’s doing for the ghost story fan community, original authors Lynn Inglis (credited as Myring in the original publication) and Eric Maple and Usborne themselves.

In the meantime, here’s the original article with just a handful of images. Watch this space or my Twitter account (@BadgersX) for more.

By the summer of 1984, I had been introduced to the wonders (and horrors) of the ghost story. My junior school headmaster, Mr. McGeown, used to spin spooky yarns in school assembly to the third and fourth-year children. I relished his assemblies with his gruesome tales of headless horsemen, haunted mirrors, animated costumes and more. That same year IPC Magazines released Scream! comic which furthered my interest in all things supernatural.

I was never a sporty child (although like most children at the time, I did own a BMX) and would rather spend time reading a book so during that summer holiday, I joined the town library. I would spend what felt like hours just looking up and down the shelves deciding what to take out. On my first visit, I took away Dracula, a tie-in book to the TV series Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious World and a tiny book I found jammed between two much larger volumes which had an interesting cover. The Usborne Pocketbooks Supernatural Guide: Haunted Houses, Ghosts & Spectres.

The first two books were probably too old for me. Dracula felt long-winded and boring and the Arthur C Clarke one was full of science and words that were difficult for me to understand. But I pored over the page of that Haunted Houses book, taking in every story and article. The sections about Harry Price and Borley Rectory held a particular interest for me. Some of the illustrations in it have stayed fresh in my memory for more than thirty years.