the sundial press
Littleton POWYS Llewelyn POWYS Philippa POWYS T.F. POWYS Forrest REID
Roger Norman Peter Tait David McGOWAN

A. N. L. MUNBY Christopher



  And Other Ghost Stories

With an Introduction
by Richard Dalby

richmal crompton,  mist

Richmal Crompton published MIST and Other Ghost Stories in 1928. Never reprinted and exceptionally scarce, these wide-ranging and compelling suspense stories for adults are atmospherically charged with murder, moonshine and murkiness. They are often rooted in domesticity or in someone’s oppressive fascination with an old house or garden. The ghosts are perhaps surprisingly grisly.

Contains thirteen stories: 'The Bronze Statuette', 'Strange', 'The Spanish Comb', 'Marlowes', 'Rosalind', 'The House Behind the Wood', 'Harry Lorimer', 'The Little Girl', 'The Haunting of Greenways', 'The Oak Tree',  'Hands', 'The Sisters', 'Mist'.

Richmal Crompton's adventurous, scruffy and rumbustious schoolboy William Brown remains a celebrated and immortal creation in children's literature after ninety years, widely recognised as one of the most popular fictional characters of all time. The author's many adult novels and short story collections have always been relatively overshadowed, although they once achieved a wide and appreciative readership. A number of these stories have a macabre and 'secret world' quality, and richly deserve to be rediscovered.

Price: £19.50 ~ Limited edition Jacketed Hardback ~ ISBN-13: 978-1-908274-28-1 ~ Book Dimensions: 210×148mm

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       November 2021

And Other Ghost Stories



And Other Ghost Stories



And Other Ghost Stories



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IT WAS after eleven when we discovered that we’d run out of petrol. And, of course, it was miles away from anywhere. I was motoring with my cousin Frank and his wife. Frank was more like my brother than my cousin. We had been friends from child­hood.
   ‘Hoik yourself up and see what you can see, Harold,’ he called to me from where he was tinkering with the engine.
  I stood on the back seat and surveyed the landscape. Fields and woodland lay around us in the tranquil light of an opal moon. A river shone like burnished silver in the dis­tance. The trees were black shadows in a grey sheen of moonlit fields.
  ‘Any signs of a village or a garage?’ said Monica anxiously.
  ‘’Fraid not,’ I said, jumping down again.
   Frank closed the bonnet with a sigh of resignation.
  ‘Yes, that’s it,’ he said, ‘I clean forgot I’d used the spare tin. What a darned fool I am!’
  No one contradicted him. Monica drew her wraps about her with a shiver. The night air struck cold, though there was not a breath of wind.
  ‘What shall we do?’ she said. ‘Walk to the next village?’


richmal crompton, mist, richard dalby, the sundial press



August 2020
   MIST And Other Ghost Stories reviewed on YouTube:

richmal crompton, mist, the sundial press,

*   *   *   *   *   *

Richmal Crompton is best known for her popular William books, frequently reprinted, published 1919-70; amusing tales for children, the 38 titles display an accomplished adult sophistication in terms of plotting, characterisation, dialogue and style; witty satires on English middle class village life in the mid twentieth century, with echoes of an author she admired, Jane Austen. Her keen insight into social mores is apparent in her novels, numbering an astonishing 41; and in her short stories, written for monthly periodicals like Hutchinson’s Magazine, appearing in nine collections. Crompton had a lifelong interest in the supernatural but used the subject directly in only two books: The House (1926), issued in America as Dread Dwelling, a haunted house novel; and the short story collection. Mist & Other Ghost Stories (1928). The macabre and ghostly surfaces, often indirectly, in her other writing, including the William books. ‘William’s Midsummer Eve’ uses the motif of an avenging scarecrow; ‘A Witch in Time’, a witch and her black cat familiar; ‘William and the Ancient Souls’, reincarnation and evil spirits; and two stories concern a ghost, another an eastern curse. While such motifs are employed as parody, they display the author’s familiarity with genre conventions, and a feel for the mysterious and macabre (not unlike, say, Daphne du Maurier). Only one of the stories in Mist has ever been reprinted, ‘Rosalind’, in The Virago Book of Ghost Stories Vol. II (ed. Richard Dalby, 1991). Anyone liking that tale will not be disappointed, as all the stories in Mist are of a similar standard. Considering her past popularity, other than the William books, Crompton’s titles are surprisingly scarce; possibly the rarest is Mist. Dalby notes that, since acquiring a copy long ago, he has never seen another despite decades of collecting. In the past 10 years I have seen only one offered for sale: at $1000 by supernatural fiction dealer, L.W. Currey of New York State; it sold immediately. Almost as rare is The House/Dread Dwelling, especially the British edition, which I have never heard of anyone finding. The first reprinting since 1928 of Mist is thus a welcome achievement.

Mary Cadogan in her fine biography. The Woman Behind William: a Life of Richmal Crompton (1986), notes the author’s fascination with the motif of the macabre house. It surfaces in the William books, and in her novels, such as Frost at Morning (1950), which has a sinister room; an idea also present in her first novel. The Innermost Room, where the protagonist gazes into ‘nightmare depths beneath the clear calm surface of life’. As Dalby states in his perceptive introduction to Mist, the 13 supernatural tales also convey a strong sense of ‘nightmare depths’. Country houses feature frequently in Mist as settings for supernatural phenomena: Bletchleys in ‘The Oak Tree’, where an ancient tree exhibits strange properties; Tallis Court, location for a Pan-inspired fantasy, ‘Strange’; Denvers in ‘The Bronze Statuette’; and the eponymously titled ‘Marlowes’ and ‘The Haunting of Greenways’. Another story is ‘The House Behind the Wood’, and there is a tale, ‘The Sisters’, set in a boarding school called ‘Fairlands’. Crompton brings to her natural scenes the same skill as to her houses. Typically in her stories, young people, often in romantic contexts, find themselves caught up in disturbing episodes that subvert their cosy middle class mores. Crompton uses an eclectic range of motifs, including ghosts, nature spirits, possession and hypnotism, testifying to her interest in the field; but although she employs themes which might tend towards cliche, a commendable feature is the way she develops her narratives in counter-intuitive directions; thus we have stories that both satisfy our liking for genre convention and offer a fresh, original spin. Her plotting is excellent (as it is in William) and the same applies to her characters. While they may appear dated to contemporary readers, they accurately portray a vanished society, middle class England between the Wars; while the underlying psychology is as relevant as ever; and there is a sense of humour that by contrast underscores the macabre, adding credibility; here as in all her writing Crompton displays shrewd understating of the human condition. Underpinning her talent as a story-teller, indeed the bedrock of her success, is style. Though the stories are short and slight, they have a notable subtlety. Above all they are an enjoyable read, a welcome reminder of the golden age of the ghost story.

From A GHOSTLY COMPANY Newsletter 52, Winter 2015 (
Review by Peter Bell (Author of two fine collections of mystical, mysterious and magical tales: Strange Epiphanies and A Certain Slant of Light).

Kindle edition customer review:
“I came across this collection by Richmal Crompton, whose 'William' books I had loved as a child. So I purchased this book more out of curiosity than anything else. What a gem of a book! I think some of these stories are comparable with those of E.F. Benson and M.R. James. They are of the period in which they were written, between the wars, and are gently disturbing and eerie. They are worth a read and I am so pleased to have found them. If you enjoy Benson and James you will enjoy these stories.” — Beeswax on 10 October 2015

An extract from a review by Mark Andresen in The Pan Review:

“If the content appears over-familiar in 2015, derivative they are not. Most admirable in these tales, from a world of middle-class cosiness, is the emotional honesty and lack of faux sentiment in the best. Their perspective, from a stoic, independent woman, adds a modernity in the narrative voices strengthening what might otherwise have solely survived as period charm alone. There may be a sameness in each, but subjective imagination can easily compensate for what is left out. The simple exposition and crisp matter-of-factness of Crompton's prose-style – oddly reminiscent of the 'Williams' - is another of those less-is-more object lessons to the rest of us on how to write today. (At least for the first draft). Those presuming her out-of-date should take a second look.”

(To be transported to read the full review please click here)

A review in The Daily Telegraph by Tim Martin

One wouldn’t necessarily peg Richmal Crompton (1890-1969) as a keen writer of ghost stories, not least because of the short shrift that spiritualism and the supernatural got in her Just William series of children’s books. In one memorable sequence from More William (1922), the 11-year-old urchin decides to do a good turn for his credulous Cousin Mildred, an occult dabbler who longs for “some psychic revelation” during her short stay with the family. After midnight, then, William creeps helpfully into her bedroom, dons a bedsheet and staggers from the shadows:

“Oh, speak!” pleaded Cousin Mildred.

Evidently speech was a necessary part of this performance. William wondered whether ghosts spoke English or a language of their own. He inclined to the latter view and nobly took the plunge.

“Honk. Yonk. Ponk,” he said, firmly.

Cousin Mildred gasped in wonder.

“Oh, explain,” she pleaded, ardently. “Explain in our poor human speech. Some message –”


But perhaps it takes an enthusiast to know one. Crompton seems to have felt her William stories to have been potboilers – boiling 12million copies in the UK alone – and preferred to be judged by her books for adults. These included THE HOUSE, a novel about a haunted mansion, and a collection of ghost stories called MIST which went through a single edition in 1928 and has become impossibly rare on the second-hand market. Now the small Sundial Press, which publishes work by such forgotten talents as ANL Munby, TF Powys and David Garnett, is bringing it back to life (MIST and Other Ghost Stories, £17.50).


Crompton’s stories are more restrained and less deliberately invasive than the work of hardened old shockers such as M R James, Algernon Blackwood or Arthur Machen, but they’re all interesting and one or two are excellent. In “Strange”, a mysterious, beautiful young man turns up at a country house and bewitches everyone, including the narrator’s girlfriend, with his “curious long eyes” and his deft touch on the Pan pipes. In “Harry Lorimer”, a man visiting his friend in the country discovers, to his horror, that his host appears to have had a soul transplant. One of the book’s most uneasy moments comes with the odd rupture of social custom that ensues, as the men sit talking by the fire late at night:

“I did not for some time realise the trend of his conversation. It was like going down a slope that is so gradual that one is down in a valley before one realises that there has been a descent at all. Quite suddenly I realised that he was talking the most unimaginable filth. He seemed to savour all the obscenities he touched on lingeringly like an epicure.”


Sundial is also publishing FROM ANOTHER WORLD and Other Ghost Stories, which selects a number of ghost stories by Rosemary Timperley (1920-1988). Timperley was an intensely prolific novelist and editor, but published her supernatural stories only in magazines, papers and anthologies. Roald Dahl was so impressed by them that he included her twice in his 1983 Macmillan anthology of spooky tales, but there has not, until now, been any collection of her work in the genre . . .

© Tim Martin

"QUEER uncanny tales, yet with just that touch of realism required to bring the occult inflection fully home to the reader, 'Mist' will take its place in the front rank of books dealing with this side of life—a side which is more felt than seen, more speculated upon than known about.
   Here many strange happenings are related and curious view­points expressed. We find the old god Pan playing his part—and pipes—in modern conditions, and we read of the rather vulgar young Miss who loved Apollo. There is the mysterious cottage and the gypsy woman, both of whom had long since passed, the one into ruins and the other into oblivion; and many other stories of equally startling composition.
   To the many who are interested in the occult, the present volume will make a strong appeal, while for the sceptics there will be found thrills and much food for thought in every tale." 
[The first edition jacket blurb.]

richmal crompton, mist and other stories, first edition cover

First edition cover (1928)

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