Gruesome Cargoes

Horror fiction 1925-1937: ‘Not At Nights’ & ‘Creeps’

Charles Lloyd (ed.) – Terrors

Posted by demonik on October 9, 2012

Charles Lloyd (ed) – Terrors  (Phillip Allan, 1933)

dust jacket from Facsimile Dust Jackets

Charles Lloyd – The Terror On Tobit
Guy Preston – Thirty
Francis Sibson – The “Westerdale’s” Tow
Andre de Lorde – Waxworks
Phyllis Stone – The Man With The Flayed Face
Ursula Gwynne – The Muffler
Marjory Lawrence – The Terror Of Stranger Island
Pamela James – Blue-Black Hair
John Ratho – Arabella Goes North
Phyllis Stone – Spider’s Web
Elliott O’Donnell – The Mystery Of Beechcroft Farm

The man with the flayed face, how the passengers of the Westerdale died, the Fear on the lonely island, and the artist who was caught in the spider’s web, make their first appearance – with other grisly tales – in this volume.

Review by James Doig

Charles Lloyd, The Terror on Tobit
Daphne and Anne are holidaying in the Scilly Islands and decide to spend a night on deserted Tobit island, much to the shock and horror of the locals, there being numerous cases of sightseers disappearing without trace. Naturally, the girls won’t be swayed. Jean, one of the local boys, has taken a fancy to one of the sweet young things and tags along with them, parking himself a discrete distance away. During the night Daphne, frightened by a strange whistling noise, goes in search of him and finds a pool of slime next to his camp fire. Hearing Anne scream, she rushes back only to find another pool of slime where Anne had been sleeping. Off to the asylum with Daphne. Seems to be some species of giant flesh-eating sea slug.

Guy Preston, Thirty
Not a bad ghost story in which an antiques dealer is haunted by a certain person counting out his thirty pieces of silver.

Francis H. Sibson, The Westerdale’s Tow
Nautical horror where a greedy captain tows a derelict ship back to shore for the scrap metal. Unfortunately for him, the derelict is home to an awful species of flesh eating insect from New Guinea.

Andre de Lorde, Waxworks
Young Parisian takes a wager that he can’t spend the night of a nasty storm in a waxworks. He just about makes it.

Phyllis Stone, The Man With the Flayed Face
Young woman’s car breaks down during a storm and she seeks shelter at the home of a man whose head is swathed in bandages. He’s a nice chap who suffered horrific injuries during the war. By good fortune the woman’s brother is an expert plastic surgeon. As there is no photograph of the afflicted man, a photograph of his dead twin brother is used as a model. All goes well, except that the man’s dead brother happened to be a student of the occult…

Ursula Gwynne, The Muffler
Sad and pointless story about a man on death row who has strangled his crippled son.

Margery Lawrence, The Terror on Stranger Island
Adventurers investigate Stranger Island, where numerous people have disappeared without trace. They find that the culprit is a monster-sized cross between a scorpion, crab and spider.

Pamela James, Blue-Black Hair
Beautiful young woman tries to prove an ancient family curse has no basis in fact. Silly girl…

John Ratho, Arabella Goes North
Nice conte cruel that someone should resurrect – eccentric, aristocratic Arabella finds herself on a train to Edinburgh without Sister to help her. The other passengers are mean to her, including the young girl she shares a carriage with. Unfortunately for the girl, Arabella is as stark raving mad as you can get.

Phyllis Stone, Spider’s Web
Bizarre story about a mother and daughter trying to con a rich artist out of his money. Mother is 47 and daughter is a 27 year old dwarf, but somehow they are able to pass themselves off as 20 years’ younger. Dwarf falls in love with artist and kills herself, mother goes mad.

Elliott O’Donnell, The Mystery of Beechcroft Farm
Woman’s aunt goes missing on her way home from London. Conventional ghost story – replete with headless ghost – made interesting because the murderer, an attractive woman who owns a nearby farm, gets away with it.

See also the Terrors thread on Vault of Evil forum


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L. A. Lewis – Tales Of The Grotesque

Posted by demonik on May 13, 2009

L. A. Lewis – Tales Of The Grotesque: Uneasy Tales (Philip Allan, 1934)

L A Lewis Tales Of The Grotesque

L A Lewis Tales Of The Grotesque

Many thanks to Robert Weinberg for kindly granting me permission to use his cover scans.

Lost Keep
The Tower Of Moab
The Child
The Dirk
The Chords Of Chaos
The Meerschaum Pipe
Haunted Air
The Iron Swine
Animate In Death

“Squadron Leader Leslie Allin Lewis (1899-1961) was a veteran of both world wars, flying Sopwith Camels over France in 1918 and Hurricanes over England in 1940. He was also one of the best writers in the macabre and supernatural genre between wars. A collection of his unusual and excellent stories was published in 1934 under the title Tales Of The Grotesque.

From Richard Dalby’s introduction to Haunted Air in The Mammoth Book Of Ghost Stories 2, 1977.

Officially a Creep, a modern edition, edited by Richard Dalby was published by the Ghost Story Press in 1994, and includes what seems to be L(eslie) A. Lewis’s only other contribution to horror fiction, The Author’s Tale – ghosts get down to some serious bondage and caning fun (!) – from Christine Campbell Thomson’s Terror By Night. Prior to that, the excellent Hugh Lamb had revived a few of the stories for his anthologies.

The Child: The narrator, a city boy and motorcyclist – though not, as he hastens to point out, the type “that carries a leggy flapper on the pinion and sports a cigarette holder a yard long”: What’s the matter with him? – investigates an alleged haunting at a gamekeepers cottage in the woods near ‘Wailing Dip’. Some years before, a woman who’d murdered her children had escaped from the local asylum and was last seen near the site. She was heavily pregnant at the time. The woman is presumed dead down a pot hole, but who or what has been stealing poultry from the village these past years and what did a poacher see that scared him to death?

The Meerschaum Pipe: The narrator moves into ‘Heroney’, the former country residence of Harper who butchered several women and buried them in the surrounding fields. Or rather, parts of them:

“The most revolting feature of the murders was his habit of severing the head and limbs and leaving them on the scene for identification, while carrying away the trunk for addition to a sort of museum …”

In between visits to the Vicarage and brushing up on his golf handicap, the new squire takes to smoking Harper’s best pipe. The discovery of a gypsy girl’s mutilated remains in Arningham Woods signals a new reign of terror …

Hybrid: In his youth Chambers was plagued by nightmares which a clairvoyant later convinced him were flashbacks from a previous life when he was an adept black magician. when Chambers marries and takes up home in Sussex he realises that this is where his diabolical incarnation practiced evil and the adjoining field is where he was burnt at the stake. his familiar, a raven-like bird, gradually takes him over until – as his devoted wife explains to Dr. Cole – “His body is mad, but his mind is sane”. chambers degenerates into a hopping, squawking sex maniac and ravishes his wife. Dr. Cole eventually gets a specialist to take care of him but in the meantime Mrs. Chambers gives birth …

The Tower Of Moab: “A veritable flock of ghoulish wraiths whirling about a young girl who stood on the kerb, wearing on her face a look of desperation that spoke of private tragedy … She uttered a ghastly, sobbing scream and hurled herself with a kind of boneless wriggle under the wheels of a lorry.”

A salesman, down on his luck, is fascinated by a huge yellow structure began by a religious cult eighty years earlier as their answer to the Tower of Babel. Fascinated and at a loose end, he jacks in his job and takes a room at the local inn where he can drink himself insensible while investigating the tower. As he sinks further into Whiskey oblivion, he becomes aware of the Devils and Angels flitting about the top of the column until the latter descend on the unwitting public en masse, tormenting them with their sins. Eventually his own demons appear and he’s taken away to a lunatic asylum.

The Author’s Tale: “He would kidnap the venomous swine of a woman and hold her captive in a secret place that he knew, flogging her daily until brute force brought her to absolute subjection.”
He is ‘Lester’, usually an amiable enough fellow with a weakness for the ladies, and she is his third wife who has ruined him, while the remote spot is a deserted farmhouse where he has rigged up his apparatus, a frame with straps and pulleys attached easily capable of suspending his greedy ex until she sees the error of her ways. What he hadn’t accounted for was the place being haunted – and by fiends of particularly sadistic bent who commandeer his torture device and use it to discipline one of their own with a savagery that has even the vengeful Lester. what he witnesses that night persuades him to make a significant amendment to his plans …

Haunted Air: “Apart from its extraordinary shade of pulsating, unnatural green, the object was quite evidently not a bird, and he might momentarily have dubbed it a grotesque toy balloon … but for the fact that it was so obviously – and somehow horribly alive. Carr described it as resembling a monstrous monkey, clambering with incredible speed up an invisible rope.”

A series of mysterious light aircraft crashes claim the lives of a succession of experienced pilots and their passengers. Ace record-breaker Pitchmann sneers at Carr’s death, dismissing him as an amateur and a lightweight, and takes to the skies in unpromising weather to prove how great he is. Meanwhile at the bar, Beckett gives his alarming take on the recent tragedies.

Vault of Evil’s Tales of the Grotesque thread.

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H. D. Everett – The Crimson Blind & Other Stories

Posted by demonik on May 13, 2009

H. D. Everett – The Crimson Blind & Other Stories (Wordsworth, 2006)


John Atkinson Grimshaw, Autumn Glory, The Old Mill (1869)

The Death Mask
Parson Clench
The Wind of Dunowe
Nevill Nugent’s Legacy
The Crimson Blind *
Fingers of a Hand
The Next Heir
Anne’s Little Ghost
Over the Wires
Water Witch
The Lonely Road
A Girl in White
A Perplexing Case
The Pipers Of Mallory *
Beyond the Pale *
The Whispering Wall

Stories marked * did not appear in The Death Mask And Other Ghosts, (Philip Allan, 1920)

Back cover blurb:

Mrs H.D. Everett was the last in a long line of gifted Victorian novelists who knew how to grip the reader through the invasion of everyday life by the abnormal and dramatic, leaving the facts to produce their special thrills without piling on the agony. ‘I always know’, says one of her characters, ‘how to distinguish a true ghost story from a faked one. The true ghost story never has any point and the faked one dare not leave it out.’ From the chilling horror of The Death Mask to the shocking violence of The Crimson Blind, from the creeping menace of Parson Clench to the mounting suspense of The Pipers of Mallory, these thrilling stories were enthusiastically received by readers and critics when they first appeared, and are sure to delight and terrify the modern reader in equal measure. With their haunting influences, their permeating scents, their midnight apparitions and unexplained sounds, they plunge us, along with the hero or heroine, into a state of increasing nevous excitement.

“Routine material. Indistinguished stories of literal horror … “The Crimson Blind’, which is often anthologised, is much the best story in the book.” – E. F. Bleiler on The Death Mask & Other Ghost Stories.

The excellent Wordsworth Editions published this collection by early (and posthumous) Creeps contributor, Mrs. Everett in a very handsome paperback edition. Let’s hope she’s the first of many! Richard Dalby introduced a collection containing the same sixteen tales for The Ghost Story Society in 1995, but i never thought we’d see a budget edition in my lifetime, so well done Derek and the team! To be fair, Bleiler is not altogether wide of the mark with that “routine” jibe, as some of the stories are …. on the aenemic side.


The Crimson Blind: In his youth, Ronald McEwen had spent a fortnight at Swanmere Rectory as a guest of his uncle, Rev. Sylvanus Applegarth. The reverend’s sons are wont to tease Ronald about his belief in ghosts and one night persuaded him to visit a derelict house which – they tell him – has a reputation of being haunted. Ronald is well aware that the boys are planning a prank, but they seem as surprised as he when an upstairs blind is raised and a deranged figure comes crashing through the glass at them. Twenty years later, when the property is incorporated into his friend’s luxurious manor house, McEwen learns the truth. It transpires that the place was once a lunatic asylum, and an inmate had tried to burn his room to the ground, killing himself when he jumped out through the window.

The Death Mask: Gloriana Enderby is fanatically opposed to second marriages. On her deathbed she requests that her husband, Tom, covers her face with a particular handkerchief she values among her possessions.
After the funeral Tom sets his cap at the new neighbours’ daughter, Lucy Ashcroft. When they become engaged Gloriana haunts them, the image of her face forming upon hankies and sheets. When it glowers at them from the tablecloth as they’re attempting to dine, Lucy throws in the towel.

The Lonely Road: With his transport home retired lame, Tom Pultenay is forced to walk the eight miles home from Ballymacor via a road which has attained a bad reputation on account of recent muggings. Sure enough, two rum fellows are soon on his trail, but the weaponless Tom is saved from grief by Boris, the late master’s loyal dog, who takes him the length of the road before fading into nothingness. A sub-plot involves Tom’s tricky courtship of the widow Margaret, but this one definitely warrants Bleiler’s indifference.

Fingers Of A Hand: Much more fun. Two unmarried Aunts, Sara and our narrator Grace, take little Dick and Nancy on holiday in Cove while their father is away in India. The first two weeks are uneventful – thank God Mrs. Everett doesn’t describe them in detail – but when the traditional seaside weather kicks in and torrential rain stops play, Grace finds a message scrawled on the fresh sheet of paper: “GET OUT AT ONCE”. “Surely they could have been traced by no mortal hand!” Sadly, Everett again opts for a benevolent ghost whose interference prevents what would have been a terrible tragedy, but there are some neat moments involving the hand which may even have influenced W. F. Harvey’s malefic The Beast With Five Fingers.

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More Philip Allan: The non-anthology ‘Creeps’

Posted by demonik on May 13, 2009

More Philip Allan: The non-anthology ‘Creeps’

Apart from the famous anthologies, there were a number of novels and single author collections in the Creeps series. From Tales Of Fear (I’ve added the year of publication, when known)


To be successful, the gruesome story must not be too long. The most hardened of us can only take this kind of thing in small doses with a breathing space between each.

The sales of these volumes have gone into many thousands. Some have gone quite out of print; but new ones are being constantly added. Each volume has about a dozen stories of sheer, stark horror – and noone, whatever their nerve strength, should read them at night. Nervous people should not read them at all.



If you have enjoyed the stories in this popular series – why not write one? It is very probable that other volumes will be added: and the publishers are always ready to consider the work of new, as well as established, authors.

Send MSS. to

Messrs. PHILIP ALLAN & CO., Ltd.
69, Great Russell Street, London, W.C.1

Mark envelopes ‘Creeps’

Three more books, also published by Philip Allan, which appeared too early to be considered legit Creeps were Mrs. Everett’s The Death Mask & Other Ghost Stories (1920), Tod Robbins’ Who Wants A Green Bottle? (1926) and H. R. Wakefield’s They Return At Evening (1928).

Come 1936 and the publisher seems to have veered off into a SF direction with Edmond Hamilton’s The Horror Of The Asteroid & Other Planetary Horrors and Barrington Beverley’s The Space Raiders, although that same year saw publication of Charle’s Birkin’s Devil Spawn, which collected all his contributions to the anthologies and is unquestionably a Creep!.

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Mike Ashley: Unlocking The Night

Posted by demonik on June 14, 2008

There doesn’t seem to be much literary criticism of the Not At Night and Creeps series’. The article that I’ve found of most help to date is unquestionably Mike Ashley’s splendid Unlocking The Night in Stephen Jones & Jo Fletcher (eds.) Gaslight And Ghosts (World Fantasy Convention/ Robinsons, 1988) which I’ve heavily drawn on for my CCT and Oscar Cook info. I met Mr. Ashley briefly at the Zardoz book fair in 2005 but my brain wouldn’t go and therefore I completely wasted the opportunity to grill him about anything remotely relevant.


Micheal Foreman

Introduction: A Ripping Yarn – Stephen Jones & Jo Fletcher

James Herbert – Halloween’s Child
Neil Gamman – James Herbert: Growing Up In Public
Dianna Wynne Jones – The Green Stone
Clive Barker – The Rhapsodist
Hugh Lamb – Victorian Terror
Garry Kilworth – Beyond Byzantium
Brian Lumley – The Writer In The Garret
Ian Watson – The Case Of The Glass Slipper
R. Chetwynd-Hayes – Fog Ghost
Peter Tremayne – A Reflection Of Ghosts
Robert Holdstock – Time Of The Tree
Ramsey Campbell – Cat And Mouse
Brian W. Aldiss – Forgotten Life
Karl E. Wagner – Beyond Any Measure
Mike Ashley – Unlocking The Night
Terry Pratchett – Sphinx
Barbara Hambly – Immortal Blood
Lisa Tuttle – The Modern Prometheus
Adrian Cole – Grimander
Kim Newman – The Long Autumn Of 1888
Charles L. Grant – Snowman

If buying a book for a solitary article reeks of extravagance/ completist desperation, then rest assured that Gaslight And Ghosts has much else to recommend it including Hugh Lamb’s enthusiastic essay on Victorian Nightmares, Kim Newman’s annotated listing of Jack the Ripper movies and TV appearances The Long Autumn Of 1888 and some excellent fiction by Karl E. Wagner, Chetwynd-Hayes and Charles L. Grant among others.  It’s a weird amalgam of horror and fantasy stories, artwork, articles, extracts from then forthcoming novels, ads and co., loosely based around a  Jack The Ripper/ Victorian theme, although many of the items don’t come within spitting distance. The overall effect is like an extended, hardcover issue of Fantasy Tales magazine.

As to the short stories, Beyond Any Measure has to be the stand out, a vampire/ doppelganger classic, and the Campbell is resurrected from early Michel Parry anthology, Beware Of The Cat. Fog Ghost seems to have been written to order, but it’s mercifully free of the heavy-handed humour that blights some of RCH’s other work. Hallowe’en Child is reputedly based on a true incident on the night Herbert’s daughter was born.

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Still Not At Night : Arrow edition

Posted by demonik on August 20, 2007

Christine Campbell Thomson (ed) – Still Not At Night (Arrow, 1962)


Joseph O. Kesselring – King Cobra
Joseph McCord – The Girdle
Flavia Richardson (Christine Campbell Thomson) – Behind the Blinds
Michael Gwynn – The Death Plant
Greye La Spina – The Tortoiseshell Cat
J. Dyott Mathews – The Tapping
Oscar Cook – Si Urag Of The Tail
August Derleth – The Metronome
H. Thomson – Offspring Of hell
Elizabeth Sheldon – The Ghost That Never Died
Henry S. Whitehead – The Passing Of A God
Jessie D. Kerruish – The Wonderful Tune
Geoffrey Vace (Hugh B. Cave?) – Four Doomed Men

More Not At Night was reprinted as Never At Night (Arrow, 1971) and Still Not At Night was reissued as Only By Daylight (Arrow, 1972).


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More Not At Night: Arrow edition

Posted by demonik on August 20, 2007

Christine Campbell Thomson (ed.) – More Not At Night (Arrow, 1961, 1963)


Harold Ward – The Closed Door
Mortimer Levitan – The Third Thumbprint
Romeo Poole – The Death Crescents Of Koti
Will Smith & R. J. Robbins – Swamp Horror
Oscar Cook – Golden Lilies
Jessie D. Kerruish – The Seven Locked Room
Loretta G. Burroughs – Creeping Fingers
Flavia Richardson – Out Of The Earth
B. W. Sliney – The Man Who Was Saved
Hester Holland – Dorner Cordainthus
Robert E. Howard – Rogues In The House
David H. Keller – The Thing In The Cellar
Oswell Blakeston – The Crack
Archie Binns – The Last Trip


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Quick Links

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Jessica Amanda Salmonson has a page on the Creeps series (including the non-anthology titles) at Violet Books. Jessica also provides this link to the late rbadac’s essay, The Best of the Creeps Series.

Tartarus have the contents and several cover scans of Creeps and Not At Night originals.

Robert Weinberg has cover scans of the Not At Night‘s and various other mouthwatering goodies in the unmissable Rare Books section of his site.

Rog Pile has taken a look at the Not At Night‘s on his Haunted Dolls House blog. Meanwhile, Franklin Marsh, has dramatised Meshes Of Doom from Birkin’s Horrors on the Vault Of Evil forum.

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The Not At Nights: About

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Originally intended as a one off collection, the series was such a success that Christine Campbell Thomson wound up editing eleven volumes and an omnibus between 1925 and 1937. In all, there were 170 stories and, according to noted fantasy bibliographer Mike Ashley, exactly 100 of these came from the legendary American pulp Weird Tales.

The books in the series were all published by Selwyn & Blount.

Not At Night (October, 1925)
More Not At Night (Sept. 1926)
You’ll Need A Night Light (Sept. 1927)
Gruesome Cargoes (July, 1928)
By Daylight Only (Oct. 1929)
Switch On The Light (April, 1931)
At Dead Of Night (Nov, 1931)
Grim Death (Aug, 1932)
Keep On The Light (July, 1933)
Terror By Night (Aug., 1934)
Nightmare By Daylight (April, 1936)
Not At Night Omnibus (April 1937)

Arrow books published three paperback compilations from the series from 1960-62 as:

Not At Night (1960)
More Not At Night (1961)
Still Not At Night (1962)

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Not At Night: Tales That Freeze The Blood

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Christine Campbell Thomson (ed.) – Not At Night: Tales That Freeze The Blood (Arrow 1960, 1962)


These stories are as creepy as anything that came from the pen of Bram Stoker or Edgar Allan Poe. Vampires, screams in the night, blood on the stairs, head-shrinkers, Chinese tortures, amputations, stakes – they are all here!Mary Elizabeth Counselman – The Accursed Isle
Victor Roman – Four Wooden Stakes
Galen C. Colin – Teeth
R. Anthony – The Witch-Baiter
Flavia Richardson – Pussy
Zelia Brown Reed – The Curse Of Yig
Guy Preston – The Way He Died
H. Warner Munn – The Chain
Bassett Morgan – Island Of Doom
Oscar Cook – When Glister Walked
Arthur Woodward – Lord Of The Talking Heads
Hester Holland – The Scream
Romeo Poole – A Hand From The Deep
Edmond Hamilton – Pigmy Island

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