Nineteenth-Century Southern Gothic Short Fiction

Nineteenth-Century Southern Gothic Short Fiction

Haunted by the Dark

Edited by Charles L. Crow & Susan Castillo Street

Anthem Studies in Gothic Literature

Twelve uncanny tales of the race-haunted nineteenth-century South, by authors both celebrated and obscure, are presented along with background readings, themselves often chilling, placing the tales in a historical context.

Paperback, 236 Pages


February 2021

£25.00, $40.00

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About This Book

The gothic is a dark mirror of the fears and taboos of a culture. This collection brings together a dozen chilling tales of the nineteenth-century American South with non-fiction texts that illuminate them and ground them in their historical context. The tales are from writers with enduring, world-wide reputations (Edgar Allan Poe), and others whose work will be unknown to most readers. Indeed, one of the stories has not been reprinted for nearly a hundred years, and little is known about its author, E. Levi Brown.

Similarly, the historical selections are from a range of authors, some canonical, others not, ranging from Thomas Jefferson and the great historian and sociologist W. E. B. DuBois to the relatively obscure Leona Sansay.  Some of these readings are themselves as disturbingly gothic as any of the tales. Indeed, the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction are tenuous in the gothic South. It is our contention that southern gothic fiction is in many ways realistic fiction, and, even at its most grotesque and haunting, is closely linked to the realities of southern life.

In America, and in the American South especially, the great fears, taboos, and boundaries often concern race. Even in stories where black people are not present, as in Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The System of Professor Tarr and Dr. Fether,” slavery hangs in the background as a ghostly metaphor. Our background readings place the fiction in the context of the South and the Caribbean: the revolution in Haiti, Nat Turner’s rebellion, the realities of slavery and the myths spun by its apologists, the aftermath of the Civil War, and the brutalities of Jim Crow laws.


“This is a critically important collection of Southern Gothic tales, which are incisively contextualized to the issues of race and slavery. The inclusion of contemporaneous nonfiction situates these stories within the culture that produced them. This is an essential collection for anyone interested in the origins of the Southern Gothic.” —Andrew Smith, Professor of Nineteenth-Century English Literature, School of English, University of Sheffield, UK

“This stunning collection juxtaposes twelve riveting Southern Gothic tales, most of them rarely anthologized, and eleven revealing pieces of nonfi ctional prose from the same time span, some by the same authors. Together they powerfully expose the darkest undercurrents that haunted America across the nineteenth century—and still haunt it today.” —Jerrold E. Hogle, Professor Emeritus of English, University Distinguished Professor, University of Arizona, USA

“This concise anthology is a must-have for students, scholars and admirers of the Southern Gothic. Crow and Castillo Street provide a unique overview of the genre and its tensions. By juxtaposing primary sources against canonical fi ction, this book subtly but brilliantly invites interrogation of the genre’s sociohistorical politics.” —Maisha Wester, Associate Professor, American Studies; African American and African Diaspora Studies, Indiana University, USA

Author Information

Charles L. Crow, Professor Emeritus at Bowling Green State University, has authored and edited studies of American regional literatures and of American gothic. 

Susan Castillo Street, Professor Emerita at King’s College London, has published widely on nineteenth-century American literature, colonial writing of the Early Americas, and the Southern Gothic.


Anthem Studies in Gothic Literature

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; Introduction; I The Tales; Chapter One Victor Séjour, “The Mulatto” (1837, new English translation by Susan Castillo Street); Chapter Two Edgar Allan Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839); Chapter Three Edgar Allan Poe, “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” (1844); Chapter Four Henry Clay Lewis, “A Struggle for Life” (1850); Chapter Five George Washington Cable, “Belles Demoiselles Plantation” (1879); Chapter Six Lafcadio Hearn, “The Ghostly Kiss” (1880); Chapter Seven Thomas Nelson Page, “No Haid Pawn” (1887); Chapter Eight Charles Chesnutt, “Po’ Sandy” (1888); Chapter Nine Grace King, “The Little Convent Girl” (1893); Chapter Ten E. Levi Brown, “At the Hermitage” (1893); Chapter Eleven Kate Chopin, “Désirée’s Baby’’ (1893); Chapter Twelve M. E. M. Davis, “At La Glorieuse” (1897); II Background; Chapter Thirteen J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, from Letters from an American Farmer: Letter IX (1782); Chapter Fourteen Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia: Query XVIII (1785); Chapter Fifteen Jean- Jacques Dessalines, “Liberty or Death: Proclamation, 28 April 1804”; Chapter Sixteen Charles Brockden Brown, “On the Consequences of Abolishing the Slave Trade to the West Indian Colonies” (1805); Chapter Seventeen Leonora Sansay, from Secret History; or, The Horrors of St. Domingo: Letter II, Letter XXI (1808); Chapter Eighteen Thomas Ruffi n Gray, from “The Confessions of Nat Turner” (1831); Chapter Nineteen Lafcadio Hearn, “St. Johns Eve— Voudouism” (1875); Chapter Twenty George Washington Cable, from “Salome Müller: The White Slave” (from Strange True Stories of Louisiana , 1890); Chapter Twenty-One George Washington Cable, from “The Haunted House in Royal Street” (from Strange True Stories of Louisiana, 1890); Chapter Twenty-Two Charles W. Chesnutt, “Superstitions and Folk-Lore of the South” (1901); Chapter Twenty- Three W. E. B. Du Bois, selection from “Of the Black Belt” (from The Souls of Black Folk , 1903); Index.


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