Today I’m focusing on classic scary stories.
On this date in 1938, Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre group performed a radio drama based on H.G. Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds. Just a few months before this, radio news for the first time interrupted a broadcast to report on a breaking news story. The broadcast started out as a musical performance, when Welles and his actors broke into the performance with a story of aliens invading the US. Some listeners truly believed that the invasion was happening and panicked. Needless to say, when they learned it was a hoax, they were none too happy.
If you haven’t read this book, you can download a free copy of the ebook from Project Guttenberg. It’s a fascinating story considering how long ago it was written.
You can also try another Wells classic, The Invisible Man, about a scientist who figures out how to achieve invisibility, but goes mad trying to find a way to reverse the process. This is also available as a free ebook.
Another classic horror story is one of my favorites, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. If you have never read this book, you will probably find lots o things you weren’t expecting…. Let’s start with the fact that Mary Shelley published this when she was just 21. The story behind the story is that she, her husband-to-be Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron were hanging out together one weekend and got to talking about horror. They decided to have a little friendly competition, everyone going to their own space to write, and when they got back together, they would see who had written the scariest story. Mary beat the boys with this story.
Frankenstein, despite how he is portrayed in popular culture, is not the creature. He is the scientist who experiments with reanimation. The creature speaks French, because he runs away and hides on a French farm and learns to speak by listening to the family. It’s a fantastic story. We have both the book and the audio in the library and it is also in the public domain, so you can download the ebook from Project Guttenberg as well.
Finally, a discussion of classic horror is incomplete without the mention of good ol’ Edgar Allan Poe. In the library we have a fabulous collection of his Tales of Mystery and Madness illustrated by Gris Grimly that is just fantastic.
Happy horror reading!