‘”The curse—the curse!” I looked up in terror. In the great mirror opposite I saw myself, and right behind, another wicked, fearful self’
An encounter with the supernatural in an everyday setting accentuates its strangeness; a truth used to eerie effect in Gaskell’s Gothic tales. A portrait turned to the wall, a hidden manuscript, a mysterious child that lives on the freezing moors, a doppelganger formed by a woman’s bitter curse: all of these things hint at male tyranny and woman as avenging angel—or devil.
Gaskell was fascinated by the dualities in women’s lives and the way in which fact and fiction merge. ‘Disappearances’, a mix of gossip, legend and fact, relates stories of mysterious vanishings, ‘Lois the Witch’, based on an account of the Salem witch hunts, shows how sexual desire and jealousy lead to communal hysteria and persecution, while ‘The Grey Woman’ explores a common Gothic theme, the way in which the ghosts of the past always return to haunt us.
This edition includes an introduction, chronology, explanatory notes and an appendix giving a reader’s response to ‘Disappearances’.