Resurrecting a neglected British ghost hunter
Author RICHARD HOLLAND has delved into the spooky past to discover one of England’s greatest but least known ghost hunters
I’d like to introduce you to a character I came across some years ago while carrying out my seemingly endless book research into various types of ghost. His name is Frederick George Lee. F G Lee was vicar of Lambeth in London. Prior to his death in 1902 he wrote numerous books on theology and church history. He also gathered together some of the strangest, most dramatic and yet least known ghost accounts committed to print.
Among his works on spiritual matters, F G Lee wrote four books exploring the realm of the paranormal: Glimpses of the Supernatural (also known as The World Unseen), published in 1875; More Glimpses of the World Unseen, 1878; Glimpses in the Twilight, 1885; and Sights and Shadows, Being Examples of the Supernatural, 1894. These aren’t really ‘ghost books’ of the usual sort: the paranormal events Lee relates in them are there mainly to support his philosophy on the spiritual world. An awful lot of theology and discourse has to be waded through in order to get to the nuggets of spookiness.
For this reason these volumes have not only rarely been reprinted but few of the ghost stories themselves have even been noted by subsequent, more focused, authors on the supernatural, let alone anthologised by them. I decided to seek them out for myself, which took some time but proved well worth the effort (and the expense!). Among the yarns typical of Victorian ghost books – crisis apparitions, dreams that came true and the like – I found some real gems. Here is a flavour of just a few:
“On one occasion, the tenant’s wife suddenly saw the figure of a tall stout man, whose face apparently had no features in it. There were neither eyes, nose, mouth, nor ears to the spectral head; but long hair, and an oval wholly unformed face. He was accompanied by a large grey spectral dog.” [Birmingham]