The best collections of classic ghost stories

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been a fan of ghost stories. As a kid, I loved horror movies and the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and H. P. Lovecraft; later on, I discovered movies like The Innocents (based on Henry James's The Turn of the Screw) and The Haunting (adapted from Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House). As a ghost historian and editor, I've discovered dozens of brilliant tales from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; these are stories that remain relevant, entertaining, and frightening.


I co-wrote...

Haunted Tales: Classic Stories of Ghosts and the Supernatural

By Lisa Morton (editor), Leslie S. Klinger (editor),

Book cover of Haunted Tales: Classic Stories of Ghosts and the Supernatural

What is my book about?

Following their acclaimed Ghost Stories and Weird Women, award-winning anthologists Leslie S. Klinger and Lisa Morton present a new eclectic anthology of ghosty tales certain to haunt the reader long past the closing page. In Haunted Tales, the reader will enjoy discovering masterpieces like Algernon Blackwood’s “The Kit-Bag,” Oscar Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost,” and F. Marion Crawford’s “The Screaming Skull,” as well as lesser-known gems by some of literature’s greatest voices, including Virginia Woolf’s “A Haunted House,” H. G. Wells’s “The Story of the Inexperienced Ghost,” and Rudyard Kipling’s “They.”

Whether the stories are familiar or overlooked, all are sure to surprise and astonish the reader long past the closing of this book’s cover. Haunted Tales: Classic Stories of Ghosts and the Supernatural will be released on August 2, 2022.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The King in Yellow

Lisa Morton Why did I love this book?

Robert Chambers (1865-1933) was one of the bestselling authors of the early twentieth century for novels - now largely forgettable - about shopgirls and adventurers. His fame in our century rests entirely on this book, which includes the four terrifying stories that make up the "King in Yellow" mythos, as well as several other haunted and haunting tales. This edition includes an introduction by Nic Pizzolatto, who included references to the book in his magnificent series True Detective.

By Robert W. Chambers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The King in Yellow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The King in Yellow is a book of short stories by American writer Robert W. Chambers, first published in 1895. The book is named after a play with the same title which recurs as a motif through some of the stories.

The first half of the book features highly esteemed weird stories, and the book has been described by critics as a classic in the field of the supernatural. There are ten stories, the first four of which ("The Repairer of Reputations", "The Mask", "In the Court of the Dragon", and "The Yellow Sign") mention The King in Yellow, a…


Book cover of The Face in the Glass: The Gothic Tales of Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Lisa Morton Why did I love this book?

Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915) may not be known by most contemporary readers...and that's a shame because her stories often include pointed observations about human nature that remain as relevant today as they were when first published. This wonderful collection, part of the superb British Library Tales of the Weird series, begins with an eerie and tragic ghost story, "The Cold Embrace," and ends with the lengthy "Good Lady Ducayne," which is often classified as an early vampire tale. 

By Mary Elizabeth Braddon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Face in the Glass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A young girl whose love for her fiance continues even after her death; a sinister old lady with claw-like hands who cares little for the qualities of her companions provided they are young and full of life; and a haunted mirror that foretells of approaching death for those who gaze into its depths. These are just some of the haunting tales gathered together in this macabre collection of short stories. Reissued in the Tales of the Weird series and introduced by British Library curator Greg Buzwell, The Face in the Glass is the first selection of Mary Elizabeth Braddon's supernatural…


Book cover of Gothic Tales

Lisa Morton Why did I love this book?

Famous during her life for her social commentary novels like North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) was also a spectacularly gifted author of ghost stories (Charles Dickens, in fact, frequently included her ghost tales in his periodical Household Words). This collection would be worth it for "The Old Nurse's Story" alone - considered to be one of the finest ghost stories ever written - but it contains other bone-chilling classics as well. 

By Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gothic Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Elizabeth Gaskell's chilling Gothic tales blend the real and the supernatural to eerie, compelling effect. 'Disappearances', inspired by local legends of mysterious vanishings, mixes gossip and fact; 'Lois the Witch', a novella based on an account of the Salem witch hunts, shows how sexual desire and jealousy lead to hysteria; while in 'The Old Nurse's Story' a mysterious child roams the freezing Northumberland moors. Whether darkly surreal, such as 'The Poor Clare', where an evil doppelganger is formed by a woman's bitter curse, or mischievous like 'Curious, if True', a playful reworking of fairy tales, all the stories in this…


Book cover of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

Lisa Morton Why did I love this book?

Ask any scholar of horror fiction to name the greatest ghost story writer of all time, and chances are good they'll come up with M. R. James (1862-1936). James, who is also highly regarded for his scholarly works and translations, was a provost at King's College, Cambridge who entertained students during the Christmas season with his ghost tales (honoring the old English tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas). His classics include such justifiably famous stories as "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad" and "Casting the Runes" (which was adapted into the classic 1957 movie Curse of the Demon). This edition also includes a superb introduction by David Morrell.

By M.R. James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ghost Stories of an Antiquary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dive into this collection of exquisite, classic horror stories-just make sure to have the lights on and the doors locked!
First published in 1904, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary contains eight tales of supernatural horror by genre master M.R. James. Highly regarded as a masterwork of horror, this collection is a must-have for fans of the frightful.
The stories in this collection include: "Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book," "Lost Hearts," "The Mezzotint," "The Ash-Tree." "Number 13," "Count Magnus," "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad," and "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas."


Book cover of The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

Lisa Morton Why did I love this book?

Fans of literary fiction may not even realize that Edith Wharton (1862-1937), author of novels like The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome, also loved to write ghost stories, which often revolve around themes of class and gender. This collection includes such gems as the truly unnerving "The Lady Maid's Bell," the eerie yet poignant "Afterward," and "All Souls," one of the most unusual Halloween tales ever penned.

By Edith Wharton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Selected & Introduced by David Stuart Davies.

Traumatised by ghost stories in her youth, Pulitzer Prize winning author Edith Wharton (1862 -1937) channelled her fear and obsession into creating a series of spine-tingling tales filled with spirits beyond the grave and other supernatural phenomena. While claiming not to believe in ghosts, paradoxically she did confess that she was frightened of them. Wharton imbues this potent irrational and imaginative fear into her ghostly fiction to great effect.

In this unique collection of finely wrought tales Wharton demonstrates her mastery of the ghost story genre. Amongst the many supernatural treats within these…


You might also like...

The Others

By Evette Davis,

Book cover of The Others

Evette Davis Author Of Woman King

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked in journalism, politics, and public policy for 30-plus years and watched as the extreme voices gained the most traction on either side of a debate. On social media, these minority views often dominate the discussion. 48 States is a stand-alone novel highlighting the problems of extremist viewpoints in a civil society. I also have another book series that features a political consultant who discovers she's a witch and joins a secret society that uses magic to manipulate elections to protect humanity. Bottom line: if I can’t fix political discourse for a living, I can write science fiction novels that contemplate how to do it.

Evette's book list on dystopian stories for the bada** feminist in us all

What is my book about?

True Blood meets Supernatural in the kickoff of this urban paranormal fantasy series from an acclaimed author. Readers enter a dystopian San Francisco filled with empaths and vampires embroiled in political unrest—and Book 1 is just the beginning.

Much as she wishes otherwise, superstar political consultant Olivia Shepherd was born a powerful empath. It’s a legacy she walked away from long ago—but when she wakes up one morning to find Elsa, a tenacious time-walker, standing in her kitchen, she realizes she can no longer ignore her gifts. She is quickly plunged into the hidden world of powerful “Others” and drafted to work for the Council, a shadowy organization that summons the fog to San Francisco to obscure their involvement in human affairs.

Complicating matters further is Olivia’s new love interest, William. A centuries-old vampire, William is far too jaded to take an interest in human affairs—but Olivia no longer has the luxury of remaining impartial. As shocking details from Olivia’s own past emerge and her role in the Council begins to take shape, will she rise to the challenge of her destiny?

The Others

By Evette Davis,

What is this book about?

True Blood meets Supernatural in the kickoff of this urban paranormal fantasy series from an acclaimed author. Readers enter a dystopian San Francisco filled with empaths and vampires embroiled in political unrest—and Book 1 is just the beginning.

Much as she wishes otherwise, superstar political consultant Olivia Shepherd was born a powerful empath. It’s a legacy she walked away from long ago—but when she wakes up one morning to find Elsa, a tenacious time-walker, standing in her kitchen, she realizes she can no longer ignore her gifts. She is quickly plunged into the hidden world of powerful “Others” and drafted…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in ghost story, ghosts, and the Salem witch trials?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about ghost story, ghosts, and the Salem witch trials.

Ghost Story Explore 156 books about ghost story
Ghosts Explore 233 books about ghosts
The Salem Witch Trials Explore 27 books about the Salem witch trials