Top authors write ghost stories inspired by English Heritage Sites

The new collection of short stories, produced by English Heritage, will feature original work from leading authors including Mark Haddon, Sarah Perry and Max Porter.

A compilation of eight new ghost stories inspired by English Heritage's historic sites will be published this October ahead of the charity's Halloween season.

The stories will feature in the new book Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories. Eight of the country's foremost novelists and short story writers have been commissioned for the project, including bestselling author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon, and author of The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry.

Other writers include Max Porter, Kate Clanchy, Stuart Evers, Andrew Hurley, Kamila Shamsie and Jeanette Winterson.

Each writer has been asked to create a story inspired by - and set within the walls of - one of English Heritage's historic properties. Among the sites to feature are the York Cold War Bunker, Dover Castle and Housesteads Roman Fort on Hadrian's Wall.

The book will also include an essay on the tradition of the English ghost story by Andrew Martin and a gazetteer of those English Heritage sites with ghostly associations.

This is the first time the charity has commissioned new works of fiction and proceeds from the book will go towards site conservation across the country.

Author Sarah Perry © David Levene


Bronwen Riley, Head of Content at English Heritage, said English Heritage sites provided plenty of inspiration for writers over the years. She said:

The castles and stately homes of England have long inspired ghostly myths and legends, after all, white ladies, cursed souls and headless apparitions all need somewhere fitting to haunt. We wanted to challenge today's writers to use these buildings and come up with a new twist on the English ghost story. Our writers have risen to this challenge magnificently.

Many of the sites in our care have provided the setting for great poetry and prose including a number of ghost stories. But this is the first time that English Heritage has commissioned creative writing and this collection has partly been inspired by our new role as a charity and our desire to look at these wonderful old buildings in new ways. And by buying Eight Ghosts, the reader can help ensure that these sites will continue to inspire story tellers and ghost hunters for generations to come.

One of the most famous literary connections is the gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey, the backdrop to the arrival of Dracula in England in Bram Stoker's vampire novel. Meanwhile Thomas Hardy set the climax of Tess of the D'Urbervilles at Stonehenge and George RR Martin said that the ice wall in A Game of Thrones was inspired by a visit to Hadrian's Wall.

Find out more about our historic sites that have inspired stories.

Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories will be published in October 2017 - in time for Halloween - by September publishing.

Author Mark Haddon, © David Levene


  • Kate Clanchy - Housesteads Roman Fort, Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland. Clanchy is the author of Meeting the English, which was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, and the much-acclaimed memoir, Antigona and Me.
  • Stuart Evers - Dover Castle, Kent. Evers' first book, Ten Stories About Smoking, won the London Book Award in 2011 and his highly acclaimed novel, If This is Home, follwed in 2012.
  • Mark Haddon - York Cold War Bunker, North Yorkshire. An author, illustrator and screen writer, Haddon has written 15 books for children and won two BAFTAs. His bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, was published in 2003.
  • Andrew Hurley - Carlisle Castle, Cumbria. Hurley's first novel, The Lonely, was published by a tiny independent publisher in Yorkshire as a 300-copy limited-edition. It has since been republished and went on to win the Costa Best First Novel Award and Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards in 2016.
  • Sarah Perry - Audley End House and Gardens, Essex. Perry's most recent novel The Essex Serpent was Waterstones Book of the Year in 2016 and won the British Book Awards Fiction Book of the Year and Overall Book of the Year in 2017.
  • Max Porter - Eltham Palace and Gardens, London. Porter is the author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers which won the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the Books Are My Bag Reader's Award and the Sunday Times PFD Young Writer of the Year Award.
  • Kamila Shamsie - Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden, Warwickshire. Shamsie is the author of seven novels including most recently Home Fire. Burnt Shadows which has been translated into more than 20 languages and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction.
  • Jeanette Winterson - Pendennis Castle, Cornwall. After publishing her first book Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit at just 25, Winterson later scripted the novel into a BAFTA-winning BBC drama. She also writes regularly for the Guardian.
  • Andrew Martin - Essay. After qualifying as a barrister, Martin won The Spectator Young Writer of the Year Award in 1988 and since then has written for the Guardian, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph and The Independent.

Pre-order Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories here.

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