Ingoldsby Legends

One of the oddest popular successes in English ghost and horror story history was The Ingoldsby Legends, little known now, but bestselling in the 19th century. The cycle began to appear in 1837, in Bentley’s Miscellany, under the pen name Thomas Ingoldsby. This disguised an English clergyman,  Richard Barham, actually one of the priests in ordinary of the King’s Chapel Royal, and therefore a man with a social position to protect. But his works became immensely popular, and were collected in volume form in 1840, 1842 and 1847.

The Ingoldsby Legends were light, mostly humorous versions of medieval legends and common folklore, ironic pastiches of the late Romantic medieval fantasies of Walter Scott and his peers. Barham was serious, though, about his source material, and many legends, such as the Hand of Glory, were first popularized in his work. Various British ghost stories, such as “The Dead Drummer: a Legend of Salisbury Plain,” found their way into the Legends. You can find full ebook versions of the entire series here and here – if you want a little light relief with your traditional Halloween fun.


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