The British Library’s Tales of the Weird series does a great job preserving the rich heritage of the fantastic in literature, digging up long buried stories from obscure authors (and many famous ones) and presenting them to a new audience.
Here’s the first from my subscription – one book a month, with a couple of art prints and a bookmark thrown in – Doomed Romances – Strange Tales of Uncanny Love. The familiar authors here are Angela Carter, Mary Shelley, Wilkie Collins and Sheridan le Fanu, but there are plenty more I haven’t heard of.
There’s been something of a move in recent times to say past works from dead genre authors have no relevance in the modern world. But all students of literature know that everything builds on what’s gone before, even if unconscious, however revolutionary.
You can’t truly know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve come from.
Many of these old stories still stand up today, creepy, unsettling, imaginative, and it’s a slow-burning revelation to realise that what disturbed people in the past still does so today. There’s something of humanity in that.
It’s good to see this book series has been such a huge success because the British Library is going through a bit of a crisis right now. It came under a massive cyberattack from the ransomware group Rhysida in October.
Entire systems were destroyed, staff and book data stolen and sold on the Dark Web.
So devastating, in fact, that the National Cyber Security Centre, part of the GCHQ intelligence service, is still fighting to get everything back to normal. Authors waiting for their PLR payments this year may have to wait for a long time.
So far there are 39 books in the Tales of the Weird series, with a new one coming every month, excavated from the library’s archives. For anyone interested, you should be able to get on the 3-for-2 sale now running.