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Literary Essays on Gothic Horror, Ghost Stories & Weird Fiction

from  Mary  Shelley  to  M.  R.  James —

by M. Grant Kellermeyer

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10 Best Small, Indie, or Craft Publishers of Classic Horror that You'll be Proud to Support

Oldstyle Tales is privileged to be in the company of some truly dedicated professionals who share our twin core missions of making artful editions of classic horror and supernatural fiction, and preserving those sometimes neglected or forgotten voices for future generations. These are the folks that keep the innovative and chilling artistry of Fitz-James O’Brien, F. Marion Crawford, William Hope Hodgson, E. F. Benson, J. S. Le Fanu, and others alive in the imaginations of curious readers. Dover Publications and Wordsworth Editions are famous for their prolific catalogs (although Dover’s peaked in the 1970s while E. F. Bleiler was alive, and Wordsworth recently axed half of their macabre titles), but as conscientious consumers of quality horror fiction, we tend to care about what companies we support, and the following ten presses are operated by hardworking, diligent creators of beautiful collectibles, rare and forgotten fiction, and brilliantly edited anthologies. So give them a check when you next get a taste for the good old tales.

And while you’re here, feel invited to peruse our own expanding catalog (we’re working on Henry James right now), and “The Yellow Booke,” our free, online journal of contemporary horror


Our first entry is something of a sad example of the hot and cold pressures of the independent publishing business. A Welsh press that focuses on breathing life into the greatest masters of the past two centuries (Le Fanu, Riddell, Croker, Maynard, and others). Universally praised and infamous amongst collectors, whose enthusiasm seems unanimous, Sarob appears to have closed up shop in 2007, before returning in a smaller capacity, now based in France. While no longer present in full force, they still maintain a blog and a legacy that will not fade from public memory anytime soon.


HOW THEY DESCRIBE THEMSELVES: No description, but the word [M. R.] “Jamesian” is bandied about liberally

SOME SAMPLE TITLES: Vengeful Ghosts (C. E. Ward), Cold Hand on My Shoulder (Basil Cooper), Malevolent Visitants (C. E. WARD -- a new one!)

TYPICAL PRICE: Between $40 - $60


This American press specialized in neglected pulp fiction from the early decades of the last century. Their website allows for a fairly easy navigation of an EXTENSIVE collection of titles. While the selection may be more appealing to fans of crime, mystery, and suspense, there is plenty to fascinate fans of the macabre and supernatural. Among the Oldstyle Tales approved Authors of the Weird and Horrific are such luminaries as Robert W. Chambers, Irvin S. Cobb, M. P. Sheil, and H. G. Wells. The titles are admittedly more on the economy side with rather photo-shoppy covers, but the selection is enormous and they offer a winsome quirk: the first chapter of every book is free to read.


HOW THEY DESCRIBE THEMSELVES: The press specializes in reprints of long-neglected and rare crime fiction novels, modern crime fiction, “weirdmenace”/”shudder pulps” – short story collections from rare pulp magazines, and scholarly works by noted authors on the crime fiction genre, and a host of other diverse books of a collectible or curious nature.

SOME SAMPLE TITLES: Ghost House (Norman Berrow), Night of Horror and Other Stories (J. T. Rogers), We Are the Dead (Day Keene)

TYPICAL PRICE: Almost all paperbacks are $18


Run from San Francisco, this small press is a magnet for awards and critical acclaim, largely focusing on the science fiction and fantasy genres, but dabbling in horror and the supernatural as well. The company explicitly specializes in new authors and talent, but has a small yet laudable collection of established masters from yesteryear: William Hope Hodgson, Clark Ashton Smith, Manly Wade Wellman, Fritz Leiber, and others. Their editions of Hodgson are definitive. Slick, stylish, and professional, it is a treasure-trove for those interested in the living voices of horror – from Ellen Datlow to Neal Asher – but has some shiny trinkets for aficionados of the classic supernaturalists.


HOW THEY DESCRIBE THEMSELVES: Night Shade Books was founded in 1997, and has been publishing science fiction, fantasy and horror for nearly two decades. After fifteen years, and more than two hundred and fifty books later, and Night Shade Books has become a significant publisher of genre fiction. With the help of an essential and dedicated group of editors, artists, and designers, we publish between three and five books a month.

SOME SAMPLE TITLES: The Door to Saturn (Ashton Smith), Ghost Pirates and Others: the Best of William Hope Hodgson, Selected Stories (Leiber)

TYPICAL PRICE: $14 to $20. $16.99 is a common price for their paperbacks