After a certain time, a piece of art is suddenly the property of the entire world to do as they will. And some of the great horror classic is already in the public domain, horror stories ready to be read this instant.

To cozy up this Halloween season, have a look at the classical tales that have already been around for a long time. So much of the modern horror we consume today, is inspired by the works of Henry James, Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and many more. Although a hardcover book version is preferred, or a silky smooth audiobook, the internet has provided us with an easy access to the classics. These are some of the many public domain horror stories. Have a look at some of the great stories for the spooky season.

The Vampyre by John William Polidori

Gratis arkivbilde med alkoholholdig drikkevare, aristokrat, blek

“The Vampyre” is a short work of prose fiction about a vampire written in 1819 before Dracula came and conquered the vampire lore. It was written by John William Polidori as part of a contest among Polidori, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, and Percy Shelley. The same contest produced the novel Frankenstein.

Read the whole story here

The Figure in the Carpet by Henry James

“The Figure in the Carpet” is a short story (sometimes considered a novella) by American writer Henry James first published in 1896. and is now in the public domain. The story is told in the first person; the narrator, whose name is never revealed, meets his favorite author and becomes obsessed with discovering the secret meaning or intention of all the author’s works.

Read the whole story here

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Green Tea by Sheridan Le Fanu

A haunting narrative of a man plagued by a demonic monkey. An English clergyman named Jennings confides to Hesselius that he is being followed by a demon in the form of an ethereal monkey, invisible to everyone else, which is trying to invade his mind and destroy his life. Hesselius writes letters to a Dutch colleague about the victim’s condition, which gets steadily worse with time as the creature steps up its methods, all of which are purely psychological. A novella first published in In a Glass Darkly, an 1872 collection of ghost stories by Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu.

Read the whole story here

The Dead Smile by Francis Marion Crawford

Francis Marion Crawford (1854-1909) was an American writer of novels most famous for his notable contributions to classic supernatural and horror fiction and has some excellent stories in the public domain.

“The Dead Smile” is one of Crawford’s most popular horror stories. It tells the story of Sir Hugh Ockram and his family. He is dying, and when he dies he is going to hell. He dies with a smug smile on his face that are going to ruin the lives of his family.

Read the whole story here

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Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter by Sheridan Le Fanu

Self-portrait of Godfried Schalcken

Another story of Le Fanu is this one. First published as “Schalken the Painter” in Dublin University Magazine, May 1839. Republished in The Purcell Papers, 1880. The story is set in the 17th century in the Netherlands. Godfrey Schalken, a young artist and an apprentice of the painter Gerard Douw. He is in love with his niece, but knows Douw would not allow a poor and unknown artist to marry his niece. But when a mysterious and wealthy man asks for Rose’s hand in marriage, Douw agrees, even though the man looks like a corpse.

Read the whole story here

The Outsider by H.P Lovecraft

“The Outsider” is a short story by American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written between March and August 1921, it was first published in Weird Tales, April 1926.[1] In this work, a mysterious individual who has been living alone in a castle for as long as he can remember decides to break free in search of human contact and light. “The Outsider” is one of Lovecraft’s most commonly reprinted works and is also one of the most popular stories ever to be published in Weird Tales.

Read the whole story here

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Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

Sleepy Hollow (1864) 51.jpg

Read the legendary Halloween story: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a gothic story by American author Washington Irving. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is among the earliest examples of American fiction with enduring popularity, especially during Halloween because of a character known as the Headless Horseman believed to be a Hessian soldier who was decapitated by a cannonball in battle.

Read the whole story here

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The Premature Burial by Edgar Allan Poe

Illustration for Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Premature Burial" by Harry Clarke (1889-1931), published in 1919.

“The Premature Burial” is a horror short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, published in 1844 in The Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper. Its main character expresses concern about being buried alive. This fear was common in this period and Poe was taking advantage of the public interest.

Read the whole story here

Count Magnus by M. R. James

This story tells of a traveler in Sweden stumbles upon the history of a mysterious and ominous figure, Count Magnus. Written by M.R James and published in 1904 in the collection: Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. The main character, Mr. Wraxall is an author of travelogues. During his travels in Sweden, he comes upon an ancient manor house and decides to do some research there. He is offered to lodge there but declines and stays at the local village inn. The local church has a mausoleum nearby, built by Count Magnus for himself and his family, de la Gardie. He inquires of his landlord about local traditions surrounding Count Magnus and finds more than he bargained for in the end.

Read the whole story here

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