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A natural history of ghosts: 500 years of hunting for proof

A natural history of ghosts: 500 years of hunting for proof

Clarke, Roger, author

The subject of whether ghosts exist has fascinated some of the finest minds in history and it remains a subject of overwhelming interest today. This comprehensive history of the evolution of the ghost in the West examines the subject in its preferred environment - through the stories we tell each other

Paperback, Book. English.
Published London: Penguin Books, 2013

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Statement of responsibility: Roger Clarke
ISBN: 0141048085, 9780141048086
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Note: Originally published: London: Particular, 2012.
Physical Description: ix, 360 pages : illustrations (black and white) ; 20 cm
Subject: Ghosts History.; Haunted places History.; Paranormal.; Parapsychology Investigation History.

Author note

Raised in a haunted house, Roger Clarke is best known as a film-writer for theIndependentnewspaper and more recentlySight & Sound. He was the youngest person ever to join the Society for Psychical Research in the 1980s and was getting his ghost stories published by the The Pan & Fontana series of horror books aged only 15, when Roald Dahl asked his agent to take him on as a client. A published poet, his libretto forThe Man with the Footsoles of Windwas performed at the Almeida Theatre in London in 1993. This is the book he always wanted to write.


Beautifully written ... lithe, complicated and hugely rewarding
Sunday Times||Simmering as it is with personal reflections, this handsome volume ... is bursting with a giddy passion, buoyed further by an expert's thirst for abstruse facts. The main pleasure of reading this book is Clarke's own enthusiasm, intelligence and seriousness ... a deeply interesting, revealing read
Book Hugger||Splendid ... compelling ... Clarke manages to give goose-flesh and a giggle while informing the reader - an enviable feat
Scotsman||A highly enjoyable (and disturbing work) ... I am in awe of [Clarke's] intrepidity
Guardian||Outstanding ... Clarke's dissection of the shocks, sadnesses and sexiness of the seance tables from the late Victorian era is brilliantly done ... The book is deeply enjoyable, hugely informative and at times distinctly unsettling
Shade Point||Britain has over 500-years' worth of ghost stories in the cupboard and in The Natural History of Ghosts, Roger Clarke makes them dance ... the most original and readable book exploring our ghost-rich culture to appear for years ... fascinating
Fortean Times||Clarke's examination of the need people have to believe remains insightful and illuminating throughout
Observer||Roger Clarke explores the endlessly fascinating subject of the dead who won't lie down, the places they haunt, as well as the hysteria and panic they inspire. Why and how over 500 years their existence has never been scientifically proved - but at the same time, never disproved. Ghosts are masters of the elusive and ambiguous, but Clarke is a master investigator
Daily Mail||An intriguing, shivers-down-the-spine book
The Lady||Lively and absorbing ... [Clarke] has proven himself an ideal guide to this troubled and disorderly realm
Literary Review||Roger Clarke tells . . . gloriously weird stories with real verve, and also a kind of narrative authority that tends to constrain the sceptical voice within. There's simply so many of these accounts, each unique to its own setting but having much in common with the rest, particularly poltergeist activity and ghostly apparitions. What prevents the reader from casually dismissing it all as the delusions of disturbed minds is the frequent presence of some unflappable English person unlikely to be rattled by a mere bump in the night . . . [an] erudite and richly entertaining book
New York Times||A fascinating social history ... exceptionally well written and researched
Starburst Magazine||Why do ghosts wear clothes? This is just one of a number of interesting questions raised by this jaunty book ... In a series of short, snappy chapters, Clarke examines the evidence for just about every ghost who ever drew, or withdrew, breath ... butA Natural History of Ghostsis also haunted by another story, lurking not very far beneath: the story of the author's childhood need to believe in ghosts, and the gradual erosion of that belief
Daily Mail||A gripping history that traces the scientific and social aspects of ghostly sightings
Telegraph||Compelling ... Research into the paranormal necessarily involves a fair degree of debunking, and Clarke is careful to be sceptical. The narrative of ghost-hunting is simultaneously a history and exposure of fraud and popular delusion ... [yet] Clarke retains a boyish and ... well-informed enthusiasm for his subject
Independent||[A] voyage through the half-lit world of lost souls ... tales told with ghoulish relish