Friday, January 8, 2010

Luella Miller

Mary Wilkins Freeman (1852–1930)
From American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps

This selection has been reposted with a newly researched and more detailed introduction here.

By the end of the 1880s, her first decade as a published writer, Mary Eleanor Wilkins had become one of America’s most popular short story writers, publishing nearly fifty stories for Harper’s several periodicals and collecting many of them in two book publications. During the following decades, she expanded her repertoire from the realism that pervaded her earlier work to other genres, including ghost stories. In 1902, the year she married Charles Manning Freeman, she wrote “Luella Miller,” which describes a local woman who saps the life out of everyone who cares for her and features the narrator Lydia Anderson, whose “thoughts were clothed in the rude vernacular of her native village.”

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Close to the village street stood the one-story house in which Luella Miller, who had an evil name in the village, had dwelt. She had been dead for years, yet there were those in the village who, in spite of the clearer light which comes on a vantage-point from a long-past danger, half believed in the tale which they had heard from their childhood. . . . If you don't see the full story below, click here (PDF) or click here (Google Docs) to read it—free!

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