The Horror of Gyb Farm edited by Richard Holland
Within this book, The Horror of Gyb Farm, Richard Holland has collated and edited the works of a pioneering and yet relatively unknown paranormal researcher, Frederick George Lee (born 1832-1902). Between 1875 and 1894 F.G. Lee published four books covering the supernatural, and, as Richard says, “These four works are stuffed full of some of the most impressively dramatic and eerie accounts of ghostly phenomena recorded anywhere”.
I have to admit I had only heard a little of F.G. Lee, and only from other books which have quoted his tales and so I was intrigued by this collection of stories which seem to cover everything from traditional ghost tales, to stories of witchcraft, poltergeist activity and various other spooky phenomena.
Richard Holland writes: ‘Most of these stories are unique to Lee’s works. His books have rarely been reprinted and few have taken the time to go through them to find the amazing ghost stories they contain. Many of these stories are undeniable classics and yet the vast majority remain unknown to the modern reader.’
Richard tells us within the introduction it is largely because of Lee’s religious beliefs and position of clergyman that these four books have remained hidden behind the numerous books, essays and sermons he wrote on Christian doctrine and theology. A quick internet search shows just how prolific a writer he was.
Stories include ‘The Spectral Bird at West Drayton’ where the ghostly raven was believed to be the spirit of a murderer who had committed suicide. This spectral bird was seen by various people in the local church, sometimes perched on a coffin or fluttering within the vaults. Interestingly not all the tales are based within the UK, Lee has recorded tales from America, France, Ireland and India to name a few. An account from Australia talks of an apparition of a murdered man seen near to where he had died which leads to his body being discovered and the culprit brought to justice. Richard adds in that this story seems to be well documented in Australia today.
What strikes me as I read this book is the language and wording that F.G. Lee uses, I’d certainly draw some parallels with the writing style of Edgar Allen Poe, the descriptive style is rich, dark, brooding and fantastically atmospheric and I’m pleased that in editing this book Richard doesn’t attempt to modernise the tales, within the account of the title story ‘The Horror of Gyb Farm’ are the quotes: ‘A face most awful in its pallid aspect and a miserable imploring look was pressed against the window and stared at us wildly.’ and ‘Horrid and indescribable in their appearance, grubbing up the ground and half buried in it, scattering the earth upwards where the graves were, fighting, screaming and clawing in a way that no mere words can properly tell or set forth.’ Authors take note, this is really how a ghost story should be written nowadays!
I have to say Richard has done an excellent job is editing the original tales to make them much more reader friendly, focussing as he says on the ‘spooky nuggets’ and stripping out the more ‘theological’ elements within the tales. He has credited the original books and page numbers and where possible provided source information. Richard finishes off the book with a chapter about F.G. Lee, describing a personal experience of the author and shows us a little glimpse into his own life.
This collection of spine-tingling tales is a must have book for anyone interested in old ghost stories and paranormal experiences. I’d suggest dimming the lights, light the fire and let your imagination run wild (just don’t blame me if you have nightmares!!)
Paperback: 162 pages
Publisher: Apparition Publishing (12 July 2012)
Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.8 x 1.4 cm