Friday, November 27, 2015

Haunted By Books - Mark Valentine

Haunted By Books, just out from Tartarus Press, is a selection of twenty eight of my bookish essays which have mostly only appeared before in fugitive publications.

In my introductory title piece, I explore the ways in which book collectors have sometimes experienced the uncanny when looking for books: for example, knowing a book is there for them, feeling a heightened ability to find rare titles, or being led to a book.

The other pieces discuss the marginal and minor, the eccentric and elusive, the obscure and outré, in my wanderings in the further reaches of English literature.

And there are six new, previously unpublished pieces. These cover:

* The curious case of J C Snaith, the Edwardian-and-after novelist who was always being told he had almost written a masterpiece, but died faded and forgotten

* Four reviews of unwritten books, including Sir Aleister Crowley’s account of the ascent of Everest and Father Frederick Rolfe’s book on his church in the western isles;

* A visit to the lost chapel of the last Johnsonians

* The acclaimed short story writer H.A. Manhood, a recluse who lived in a railway carriage and lived off the land, brewing his own heady cider

* New Zealand poet and wanderer Geoffrey Pollett, who vagabonded around Southern England in the Thirties, selling his poems door to door

* What books the literary connoisseur of the Thirties might choose from the latest London Mercury, and what other temptations were on offer

Many of the essays have grown from glorious discussions with literary friends, in person or by postal or online correspondence, over many years, and from years of assiduous browsing in quest of the rare, the odd and the unobvious.


Update 16 December 2015 - out of print.


  1. Wonderful to see these essays collected in such a handsome volume, Mark. Congratulations!

  2. Every one of these essays sound golden. Now there's another book I have to buy!

  3. Sounds exactly my kind of book! I see the contents of Wraiths, which I just ordered in its 2nd incarnation, the first having eluded me, seems to be included. You're taking no chances on it becoming a 'fugitive publication' this time!

  4. This collection of essays sounds great! I'll be ordering a copy from Tartarus.

  5. Just finished it. Expect a positive review soon. Do you realize my "want" list on Amazon has increased 30 percent because of this collection?

  6. Finally finished the review: