Edith Nesbit (1858-1924), English children’s author and pioneering socialist, wrote more than 40 books for children, including such classics as The Railway Children and The Treasure Seekers. She also wrote some very fine horror fiction for adults. Some are available on Project Gutenberg, but a far wider selection is gathered in Tales of Darkness, a free e-book courtesy of MobileReads.
Compiled by MobileRead contributor “Granny Grump,” this collection presents, “from the darker side of Edith Nesbit, twenty-one elegant tales of mystery, murder, and the supernatural.” The compiler has done a supremely elegant job herself in producing an e-book to rival some of the best commercial productions. “This is my own compilation, taken from several sources. Text was obtained from gutenberg.org, archive.org, hathitrust.org,” she writes. “At least half of the stories included in this collection are not available as etext anywhere except in the magazine archives, although many of them have been published in anthologies in the late twentieth century.” I’ve linked to the EPUB version, but the creator has posted the same compilation as a Kindle file.
Some of the stories are droll, in a rather knowing Jamesian way (“Number 17”). Some are melodramatic (“The Letter in Brown Ink”). Some are more innocent and recall her children’s fiction (“The Marble Child”). And some are simply chilling, like “From the Dead,” or “Man-size in Marble,” which has one of the coldest, most brutal climaxes I know of in early horror fiction. These are some very dark tales indeed in places. Recommended.