Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

An anthology is a collection of stories by various authors, either new works or reprints, assembled by an editor and published in book form. It is usually distinguished from a Magazine by being a one-off publication (although anthology series exist) and its lack of editorial features and departments (especially letter columns and book reviews). That said, since the emergence of mass-market paperback publishing in the 1940s, the distinction between anthologies and magazines has become increasingly blurred (see Avon Fantasy Reader for an example).

The early tendency to publish works anonymously makes it difficult to ascertain whether many volumes of stories published before the 19th century are anthologies or single-author collections. Quite commonly writers or translators would copy or adapt the works of others, sometimes without acknowledgement. More frequently, where stories were from the oral tradition, no original author was known, so the credited author tends to be the person who first recorded the tale in writing. This is true of the earliest surviving anthologies, like the Iliad and the Odyssey, usually attributed to Homer. It is likely that even earlier collections of tales and legends existed, as attested by a surviving fragment of the Westcar Papyrus (circa 2000 BC) from ancient Egypt.

In the Greek world, the best-known anthologists of Myths and Legends included Hesiod (8th century BC), Herodotus (484-425BC) and Plato (428-347BC), but they were far exceeded by the Romans, who delighted in gathering tales. Those most linked with Fantasy and the supernatural were Virgil with The Aeneid (?20BC), Ovid with Metamorphoses (AD2-8) and Gaius Petronius (circa AD27-AD65) with The Satyricon (AD60).

Such volumes recounting earlier tradition are common in all ancient cultures. The best-known is the Bible, the books of which were written down between about 1500BC and 440BC (Old Testament) and between AD40 and AD100 (New Testament), although the version we know today did not come into being until compiled by Jerome (circa 342-420) in the 4th century. Of equal size and scale are the great Indian epic poems the Rámáyana and the Máhábharata, steadily amassed between the 5th century BC and the 4th century AD, and the Persian Panchatantra, which dates back as far as the 2nd century BC, but which was written down only in the 8th century AD by Ibn al-Muqaffa.

These aggregations of tales and histories, with nonfiction often indistinguishable from fiction, continued throughout the centuries (see Taproot Texts); others included the Icelandic Prose Edda (1222) by Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241), the Historia Regum Britanniae (1136) by Geoffrey of Monmouth, and the Gesta Romanorum (?1300), of unknown authorship, which is one of the foundation anthologies of Fairytales and was the first popular volume to establish the format of separate stories within a Frame Story. This device was used to considerable effect by Giovanni Boccaccio in his Decameron (1358), and was taken up by Geoffrey Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales (?1387) and Giambattista Basile (1575-1632) in The Pentamerone (Lo Cunto de li Cunti) (1634). Such volumes are thus the precursors of modern anthologies. They all feature the Twice-Told tale, with the concentration on Story, which is symptomatic of fantasy. As other examples we can mention: Liao-Chai chih i (1679; part trans by Herbert A Giles as Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio 1913) compiled by P'u Sung-Ling (1640-1716); The Arabian Nights (see Arabian Fantasy) – some tales of which date back at least as far as the Persian book of fairytales Hazar Afsanah ["The Thousand Legends"] (circa 850) – and which first appeared in Europe as Les Mille et Une Nuits (1704-1717) compiled by Antoine Galland (1646-1715); and of course the many volumes of fairytales produced by the Grimm Brothers, beginning with Die Kinder- und Hausmärchen (1812).

When more formal anthologies emerged they likewise assembled stories from anonymous or attributable sources which were themselves based on Folktales. During the 18th century, literary collections, often called miscellanies, began to appear with increasing frequency, some – such as The Ladies Tale (1714) ed anon and Winter Evening Tales (1731) ed anon – utilizing the oft-repeated frame device of stories told by each person among an assembled group. Several of these stories, though not all, might be macabre, with some venturing into the territory of Supernatural Fiction.

The first English-language anthology of fantastic tales was Tales of the East (anth 1812) compiled for Walter Scott by his literary assistant, Henry William Weber (1783-1818). It is a massive collection of Oriental Fantasies. Scott had long been interested in Oriental and Gothic fiction, and had planned to assemble an anthology of the latter with Matthew Gregory Lewis, but financial straits precluded it. Instead he issued Tales of Terror: An Apology (anth 1799 chap), a privately printed limited-edition booklet of 12 macabre poems by himself, Lewis and Robert Southey. Lewis, with Scott's help, did assemble an anthology of Horror verse, Tales of Wonder (anth 1801). Between them, Scott, Lewis and Weber laid the basis for the interest in the selection and promotion of Gothic and Oriental fiction and verse in anthology form.

At the same time appeared possibly the most influential anthology of Gothic fiction, Tales of the Dead (anth 1813), translated and compiled by Sarah Utterson (?1782-1851). This book was read in its French version by Lord Byron, John Polidori, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley during their holiday at the Villa Diodati, and inspired them to turn their minds to writing Ghost Stories; the major result was Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818).

Since then over 2000 anthologies of supernatural, fantasy and horror fiction have been published. These are discussed separately (with some unavoidable overlap) in the sections below: Fantasy Anthologies, Anthologies of Supernatural Fiction, and Horror Anthologies. [MA]

Fantasy Anthologies

Distinguishing between Fantasy and the mundane was not an issue to early writers, by whom the existence of Gods and the supernatural was taken for granted. Similarly, until fantasy became a marketable product in the 1970s, little attempt was made to define it as distinct from other genres. This discussion recognizes fantasy as both (a) that field of literature that has Myth and Folklore as its roots and (b) a latter-day marketing niche.

The earliest compilations of traditional tales often included, alongside more mundane tales, accounts of the fantastic, with such events treated as everyday occurrences. Stories in which the fantastic was distinguished from mundane reality did not start to emerge until the 18th century. The first popular anthology of the fantastic was the series of Arabian Fantasies Les Mille et Une Nuits (anth 1704-1717), compiled by Antoine Galland (1646-1715). These and other Oriental Fantasies dominated popular fiction of the century, and led eventually to the first comprehensive anthology of such stories, Tales of the East (anth 1812) by Henry William Weber (1783-1816). This included not only Galland's Arabian Nights' Entertainments but other Arabian, Persian, Indian and Mogul tales, plus the novels The History of Nourjahad (1767) by Frances Sheridan (1724-1766) and The History of Abdalla (1729) by Jean-Paul Bignon (1662-1743). Weber also edited a volume of Fantastic Voyages, Popular Romances (anth 1812). These volumes emphasize Weber's pioneering role as collector and anthologist.

By the early 19th century the Oriental tale was being challenged for popularity by the Gothic tale (see Gothic Fantasy), which in turn fed into the development of Ghost Stories and Horror stories. During this transition, some Gothic anthologies continued to reflect traditional Folktales, such as those collected in Interesting Tales (anth 1796) ed anon or more influentially in Popular Tales and Romances of the Northern Nations (anth 1823), which included stories from Germany by Johann August Apel, Friedric Fouqué, Johann Karl Musäus and Ludwig Tieck. Their popularity was further enhanced by Thomas Carlyle's translation of selected Volksmärchen in German Romance (anth 1827 4 vols), which focused particularly on Musäus and Tieck but also included representative examples by E T A Hoffmann and Goethe. The work of these writers was a significant influence on UK writers and on Edgar Allan Poe, but more specifically on the development of Supernatural Fiction. The fantasy elements became increasingly consigned to the world of the Fairytale, even though Tieck and Musäus mined the same motherlode as the Grimm Brothers, who contemporaneously were assembling their Die Kinder- und Hausmärchen (anth 1812-1815). Fairytales, folktales, the wider world of myths and Legends and the emerging world of the Literary Fairytale thus dominated fantastic literature in the 19th century, with much of the work increasingly aimed either at younger readers or at folklorists and ethnologists, with little serious attempt to publish anthologies of fantasy for general adult readers. Anthologies at this time consisted almost wholly of horror and ghost stories, and even The Garden of Romance (anth 1897) by Ernest Rhys included stories by Poe, Washington Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne in its wider selection of fantasy. Isolated but serious treatment came from Frederick de Berard (1853-1927), who compiled Famous Tales (anth 1899 17 vols); this contained volumes devoted to Famous Tales of Wonder, including the early German Romantics (see Romanticism), Famous Tales of Fairyland and Fancy, which focused on fairytales, Famous Tales of the Orient, Famous Tales of Gods and Heroes and, of more importance, Famous Tales of Enchantment, which included early Wonder Tales – by Herman Melville, John Ruskin, William Morris and Robert Louis Stevenson – which were thus being distinguished from fairytales, a distinction rare at this time. More typical was Tales of Fantasy (anth 1902) ed Tudor Jenks (1857-1922); this reprinted similar folktales and legends, but packaged them for young readers. Significant in this area were the tales retold by Andrew Lang in his variously coloured Fairy Books. Despite the publication at this stage of the works of William Morris and Lord Dunsany, fantasy seemed inextricably linked to the fairytale, and almost all anthologies were so tailored.

One rare exception was Through the Forbidden Gates (anth 1903) ed anon by Herman Umbstaetter (1851-1913), a selection of strange and unusual stories from the magazine The Black Cat. These stories were often on the borderline of the fantastic, and are really early examples of Slick Fantasy. The creation of this genre occurred predominantly in the Magazines, and followed in book form only when anthologists mined magazines for appropriate stories. The pioneering anthologist Joseph L French (1858-1936) assembled several such volumes, in particular The Best Psychic Stories (anth 1920), which looked at the wider world of the supernatural beyond Ghosts and Spirits, and his four-volume Masterpieces of Mystery (anth 1920), which included several stories of the inexplicable. Although the occasional fantasy story continued to appear, ghost and horror stories dominated anthologies until after WWII.

The pioneering anthology of modern fantasy was Pause to Wonder (anth 1944) ed Marjorie Fischer (1903-1961) and Rolfe Humphries (1894-1969). This compilation was a deliberate move against the Horror tradition to include stories that were more lighthearted and/or uplifting while remaining "miraculous and marvellous"; by the time of this publication a sufficient body of fantastic literature had emerged in books and magazines to warrant a solidly representative selection. Although among the 80 or so items was material from Roman and medieval times, the bulk came from the previous 50 years, and included tales and poems by Max Beerbohm, Ambrose Bierce, John Buchan, G K Chesterton, John Collier, Walter de La Mare, F Scott Fitzgerald, E M Forster, David Garnett, Robert Graves (1895-1985), W W Jacobs (1863-1943), Henry James, D H Lawrence, Arthur Machen, Liam O'Flaherty (1896-1984), John Steinbeck (1902-1968), Frank R Stockton, James Thurber, Sylvia Townsend Warner, H G Wells, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf and W B Yeats. The tales were predominantly slick fantasy, but there were also Absurdist (see Absurdist Fantasy) and Surreal (see Surrealism) fictions. Fischer and Humphries extended their selection in Strange To Tell (anth 1946), with stories from around Europe. This volume showed that fantastic literature was more prevalent on the Continent than in the UK. The international status of fantasy had in fact been recognized in Argentina where Antología de la literature fantastica (anth 1940) had been compiled by Jorge Luis Borges, Silvina Ocampo (1903-1993) and Adolfo Bioy Casares, but it was not until its English translation as The Book of Fantasy in 1976 that the English-speaking world could fully appreciate the extent to which non-English writers had long adopted fantasy – particularly Absurdist, Surreal and Instauration Fantasy – as a standard part of literature. Two other wartime anthologies did attempt to acknowledge the development of fantasy outside the UK and USA: Angels and Beasts (anth 1947) ed Denis Saurat (1890-1958), which selected the latest strange stories from France, and A Night with Jupiter and Other Fantastic Stories (anth 1945) ed Charles Henri Ford (1913-2002). Both contained stories of the Surreal, and the latter was one of the first in English to anthologize Latin American stories of Magic Realism.

Encouraged by the public acceptance of these volumes, publishers became bolder. Of particular importance in the UK was a trio of anthologies assembled by Kay Dick (two as by Jeremy Scott). In The Mandrake Root: An Anthology of Fantastic Tales (anth 1946) her final introductory note emphasized that the stories focused on the inexplicable in the known, or the intrusion of the unreal into the real, which we have defined in this encyclopedia to be the province of Supernatural Fiction. In the second volume, At Close of Eve (anth 1947), the introduction was handed over to Daniel George (1890-1967) who, after listing many categories of fiction that fall under the heading of fantasy, defined the genre as "any piece of fiction in which the action transgresses what in our opinion is natural law". Dick's third volume, The Uncertain Element (anth 1950), stopped trying to define the field and instead presented mostly new stories and factual accounts of the bizarre and macabre. These were ostensibly supernatural anthologies, but were among the first to take the traditional limit of the supernatural beyond the run-of-the-mill ghost story into more imaginative extravagances. In so doing they widened the public's awareness of the field.

Meanwhile, in the USA, paperback publishing was emerging from the pulp Magazine field. Seeking to capture the magic of pulp fantasy, Donald A Wollheim began the Avon Fantasy Reader in 1949. He did not attempt to define fantasy, other than by example, and his selections covered the whole spectrum of fantastic literature, including sf, although this was kept to a minimum. The emphasis was on stories from Weird Tales or from UK writers, and included the exotic fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith and Lord Dunsany as well as the Heroic Fantasy of Robert E Howard. At this time the Avon Fantasy Reader had a stronger influence on the magazine field than on books. Even the more literary fantasies appearing in magazines were generally ignored in the USA; although The Saturday Evening Post Fantasy Stories (anth 1951) ed Barthold Fles (1902-1989) gave a nod to some stories of the supernatural, its contents were mostly sf, as were those of The Post Reader of Fantasy & Science Fiction (anth 1963) ed anon. The most literary of fantasy anthologies in the 1950s came from Ray Bradbury: both Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow (anth 1952) and The Circus of Dr Lao and Other Improbable Stories (anth 1956) selected slick fantasies with a Surreal and Absurdist edge. These were the first US mass-circulation paperback anthologies to select literary fantasies, and were important in laying the groundwork for the new generation. It was not until the appearance of Best Fantasy Stories (anth 1962) ed Brian W Aldiss that a similar anthology would take the next step, into the 1960s.

Two other anthologies in what was otherwise a wasteland of fantastic fiction in the 1950s also put down some foundations. Witches Three (anth 1952) ed anon by Fletcher Pratt included Pratt's own novel The Blue Star (exp 1969), the first High Fantasy to appear as an original in an anthology. Shanadu (anth 1953) ed Robert E Briney (1933-2011) was not only the first Small-Press original anthology of any scale but had the first Shared-World setting in Genre Fantasy.

Aside from Aldiss's volume, a few anthologies in the early 1960s began to break away from the usual run of horror and supernatural: they included The Dream Adventure (anth 1963) ed Roger Caillois (1913-1978), which brought together several centuries of Dream fantasies, and Hell Hath Fury (anth 1963) ed George Hay (1922-1997), selecting from Unknown, but the most significant step was that made by L Sprague de Camp with Swords & Sorcery (anth 1963). The growing need for marketing niches in the paperback world had led to the creation of a new subgenre of Heroic Fantasy, dubbed Sword and Sorcery by Fritz Leiber. These were fantasies set in Secondary Worlds or Otherworlds whose plots were reliant on mighty warriors battling evil sorcerers, as typified by Robert E Howard's Conan stories. De Camp's anthology, with some of the best fantasies of Poul Anderson, Dunsany, Howard, Henry Kuttner, Leiber, C L Moore, H P Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, all effectively illustrated by Virgil Finlay, was very popular and resulted in several sequels: The Spell of Seven (anth 1965), The Fantastic Swordsmen (anth 1967) and Warlocks and Warriors (anth 1970). This last, as an interesting example of marketing synchronicity, appeared within months of the UK anthology Warlocks and Warriors (anth 1971) ed Douglas Hill (1935-2007). By then the combined success of Howard's Conan books and J R R Tolkien's LOTR in paperback had resulted in unprecedented interest in heroic and High Fantasy. Before the field began to settle down, a run of imitative S&S anthologies appeared, including: The Mighty Barbarians (anth 1969) and The Mighty Swordsmen (anth 1970), both ed Hans Stefan Santesson (1914-1975); Swords Against Tomorrow (anth 1970) ed Robert Hoskins (1933-1993); Kingdoms of Sorcery (anth 1976) and Realms of Wizardry (anth 1976) both ed Lin Carter; and Savage Heroes (anth 1977) ed Eric Pendragon (real name Michel Parry, 1947-2014). There were also two series of original anthologies, Flashing Swords! (1973-1981 5 vols) ed Carter and Swords Against Darkness (1977-1979 5 vols) ed Andrew J Offutt. None of these improved upon de Camp's anthologies, all settling for the basic warrior-vs-wizard scenario. This was also true of the Year's Best Fantasy Stories series (1975-1988 14 vols) first 6 vols ed Carter, last 8 vols ed Arthur W Saha, which under Carter printed solely heroic fantasy. A more representative selection was made in various series edited by Terry Carr, starting with New Worlds of Fantasy (1967-1971 3 vols). This deliberately excluded heroic fantasy in favour of stories at "the borders of man's imagination" and, in lieu of a definition, sought to establish the extremes of fantasy in the real world. Carr explored this further in #2, stating that "fantasy is the literary equivalent of dreams", by which he meant that fantasy was plumbing the depths of the psyche. This was the first paperback anthology series to give consideration to the wider world of fantasy. Carr later explored this on an annual basis in The Year's Finest Fantasy (1978-1979 2 vols; vt in 3 vols Fantasy Annual 1981-1982), although it was not until the leviathan efforts of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling in their annual Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (from 1988; first 2 vols vt Demons and Dreams 1989-1990 UK) that the field secured its Egon Ronay.

The 1970s saw fantasy seeking to define itself. It was given some history and structure by Lin Carter in the volumes he assembled for the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, especially the anthologies The Young Magicians (anth 1969), Dragons, Elves, and Heroes (anth 1969), Golden Cities, Far (anth 1970), New Worlds for Old (anth 1971), Discoveries in Fantasy (anth 1972) and Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy (anth 1972-1973 2 vols).

Unlike the case in sf, academics have found it difficult to grapple with fantasy. Attempts were made to analyse the field by example in Fantasy: The Literature of the Marvelous (anth 1974) ed Leo P Kelley (1928-2002) and more especially in the anthologies ed Robert H Boyer and Kenneth J Zahorski: these included Dark Imaginings: A Collection of Gothic Fantasy (anth 1978), whose subtitle sought to exemplify the roots of the fantastic; The Fantastic Imagination (anth 1977-1978 2 vols), which considered high fantasy; The Phoenix Tree (anth 1980), which explored Myth fantasy; and Visions of Wonder (anth 1981), which sought to explore Christian Fantasy. The first academic breakthrough, however, came with Fantastic Worlds (anth 1979) ed Eric S Rabkin, which sought to codify and establish a pedigree for fantastic literature.

Other publishers recognized this distinctive marketing niche for anthologies that covered the full extent of fantasy. The main run of subsequent anthologies, however, limited themselves almost solely to Magazine fantasy and are far less representative than their titles might suggest. They include: A Treasury of Modern Fantasy (anth 1981; cut vt Masters of Fantasy 1992) ed Terry Carr and Martin H Greenberg; The Fantasy Hall of Fame (anth 1983; vt The Mammoth Book of Fantasy All-Time Greats 1988 UK) ed Robert Silverberg and Greenberg, with stories voted by members of the World Fantasy Convention; and The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories (anth 1994) ed Tom Shippey (1943-    ).

The more rewarding anthologies are those which seek to re-evaluate the borders of fantasy and, in so doing, reabsorb the literary fairytale which decades earlier had been exiled to the sphere of Children's Fantasy, despite the fact that many were written on several levels. This had been explored by Jonathan Cott in Beyond the Looking Glass (anth 1971), and was more fully exposed by Terri Windling and Mark Alan Arnold in their series Elsewhere (anth 1981-1984 3 vols) and by David G Hartwell in Masterpieces of Fantasy and Enchantment (anth 1988) and Masterpieces of Fantasy and Wonder (anth 1989). The most complete anthologies of the literary fairytale are Spells of Enchantment (anth 1991; vt The Penguin Book of Western Fairy Tales 1993) ed Jack Zipes and The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales (anth 1993) ed Alison Lurie.

As noted, the English-language edition (1976) of the Borges, Ocampo and Bioy Casares anthology directed attention towards the international dimension of fantasy. Franz Rottensteiner (1942-    ) further explored this area in his all too constrained The Slaying of the Dragon (anth 1984), but its full potential has been best realized by Alberto Manguel in Black Water (anth 1983) and Black Water 2 (anth 1990; vt White Fire 1991 UK); these two are the most complete modern examples of the spectrum of contemporary fantasy, although they include some older work and concentrate mostly on Supernatural Fiction, with some Magic Realism.

Though the scope for such omnifarious compendia has been recognized by the widening audience for fantasy, the straightforward heroic-fantasy anthology has remained fundamental since de Camp's breakthrough in 1963. Recent examples include: the reprint series Echoes of Valor (1987-1991 3 vols) ed Karl Edward Wagner; the original series Sword and Sorceress (from 1984) ed Marion Zimmer Bradley; and Xanadu (from 1992) ed Jane Yolen. With the possible exceptions of Lands of Never (anth 1983) and Beyond Lands of Never (anth 1984), both ed Maxim Jakubowski (1944-    ), and Other Edens (1987-1989 3 vols) ed Christopher Evans and Robert Holdstock, there has been no original anthology series that has sought to develop fantasy in the same way that many such anthologies developed sf during the 1960s and 1970s. Fantasy as a genre has found itself becalmed by the vastness of its own ocean, and, although the anthologies of the past 30 years have striven to give it an identity, they are only now establishing sufficient momentum to give it a direction. [MA]

Anthologies of Supernatural Fiction

The more traditional anthology of Supernatural Fiction, containing stories of Ghosts, Vampires, Werewolves and the occult, accounts for the largest body of books within the overall spectrum of anthologies of the Fantastic. The earliest supernatural anthologies grew out of the 18th-century fascination in Western Europe for Gothic fiction (see Gothic Fantasy). Several anonymous collections were made of likewise anonymous German tales, so it is often difficult to distinguish anthologies from single-author collections. Thus the wholly anonymous Popular Tales of the Germans (coll trans 1791), which has all the appearance of a selective anthology – the translation of which has been attributed to William Beckford – is actually a condensation of Volksmärchen der deutschen (anth 1782-1786 5 vols) by Johann Karl Musäus. However, Tales of the Wild and Wonderful (anth 1825), which has been mistakenly credited to George Borrow (1803-1881), is a genuine anthology of various European tales, recalled by the editor from his childhood and freely retold to fit the literary fashion in the wake of Byronic Romanticism.

The book which to all intents started the movement was Tales of the Dead (anth 1813). The stories had been translated by Sarah Utterson (?1782-1851) – who added material of her own – from the French volume Fantasmagoriana (anth trans 1812), itself a translation by Jean Baptiste Eyriès (1767-1846) of the first two volumes of the German Gespensterbuch (coll 1811-1815 5 vols), a collection of embellished folklore assembled by Johann Apel and Friedrich Laun (real name Friedrich Schulze; 1770-1849). Gespensterbuch contained darker and more sinister Folktales than those being collected at the same time by the Grimm Brothers – indeed, the tales were deliberately revised to reflect the dark side of nature. The French translation, as noted, led to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818) and indirectly inspired John Polidori's The Vampyre: A Tale (1819 chap). This anthology must thus be seen as seminal. The Gothic and Romantic movements were at their height, and many volumes sought to cash in on the market. Among them were Popular Tales and Romances of the Northern Nations (anth 1823 3 vols) ed anon, German Stories (anth 1826 3 vols) ed and trans R P Gillies (1788-1858), German Romance (anth 1827 4 vols) ed and trans Thomas Carlyle, Tales of Terror (anth 1835 2 vols; rev vt Evening Tales for the Winter 1856 3 vols) ed Henry St Clair, Miniature Romances from the German (anth 1841) attributed to Thomas Tracy (1781-1872), and Tales from the German (anth 1844) trans John Oxenford (1812-1877) and C A Feiling. Coming at the end of the popular movement, this last volume offered new translations of more recent and lesser-known stories.

But already the UK was growing tired of Gothic fiction and, in particular, the Gothic Ghost Story – so much so that, as early as 1823, Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1823) published Ghost Stories Collected with a Particular View to Counteract the Vulgar Belief in Ghosts and Apparitions (anth 1823), a volume which sought to rationalize and de-sensationalize. Nevertheless, the ghost story per se, moralized and internalized by writers like J Sheridan Le Fanu and Charles Dickens, continued to thrive and prosper during the Victorian era.

The main source for supernatural short fiction during this period was the popular Magazines. Dickens, for example, built upon the tradition for winter fireside tales by starting the seasonal Christmas issues of his magazine Household Words (1850-1859) (see Christmas Books). These special issues frequently contained ghost stories, and increasingly they became distinct from the magazine proper: usually in paper covers but sometimes hardbound, they lie in the borderland between anthologies and magazines and are dealt with in more detail under Annuals.

Annuals continued to be a feature of magazine publishing until WWI but, as early as the late Victorian period, anthologies in their own right had begun to reappear. Significant in this respect was the 12-vol US Little Classics series (all anths 1875) ed Rossiter Johnson (1840-1931). At least three of the volumes were composed predominantly of supernatural fiction – although the terms "supernatural" and "ghost story" were deliberately avoided in order to subdue accusations of sensationalism; the relevant volumes were thus called Stories of Intellect (anth 1875), Stories of Mystery (anth 1875) and Stories of Tragedy (anth 1875), all including stories by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Catherine Crowe (1790-1872) and Nathaniel Hawthorne. A significant publication in the UK was Dreamland and Ghostland (anth 1887 3 vols) ed anon and published by George Redway; drawing heavily on newspapers like London Society, it was the first book to anthologize several of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories.

The 1890s saw a flurry of interest in the occult, but the improving quality of related fiction was reflected more in novels and magazines than in anthologies. A few series recognized the international status of supernatural fiction, though neither Nuggets for Travellers (1888 12 vols) – of which five volumes covered Weird Fiction from the USA, England, Germany, Ireland and Scotland – or Terrible Tales (1891 4 vols) – selecting stories from France, Germany, Italy and Spain – contained anything modern or original.

The very title of Modern Ghosts (anth 1890) – #15 in the Continental Classics series assembled by the editorial staff at Harper's – showed an attempt to move away from the traditional ghost story. The stories, particularly those by Guy de Maupassant, showed the supernatural as a manifestation as much of the mind as of spirits. This anthology was well regarded because of the prestige of its publisher; it was later mined by Farnsworth Wright, who reprinted most of the stories in Weird Tales.

Magazines ruled the first 20 years of the 20th century, and few significant supernatural anthologies were published. Two worth noting were Twenty-Five Ghost Stories (anth 1904; vt Twenty-Five Great Ghost Stories 1943; vt The Permabook of Ghost Stories 1950; included in The Haunted Hotel and 25 Other Ghost Stories omni 1941; cut vt 20 Great Ghost Stories 1955) ed W Bob Holland (1868-1932), which drew upon a store of anonymous and traditional UK and US tales, and Shapes that Haunt the Dusk (anth 1907) ed William Dean Howells and Henry Mills Alden (1836-1919), which selected good material from Harper's Monthly. Other than Uncanny Stories (anth 1916) and More Uncanny Stories (anth 1918), both ed anon and selecting stories from The Novel Magazine, there was no other supernatural anthology until the post-WWI revival of Spiritualism caused a sudden resurgence of the subgenre.

The first swathe of new anthologies came from journalists who also worked as editors for mass-market publishers, and they selected fairly obvious Victorian and Edwardian stories. In the USA Joseph L French (1858-1936) published a series starting with Great Ghost Stories (anth 1918; rebound with Ghosts Grim and Gentle [anth 1926] as The Ghost Story Omnibus omni 1933). These clearly drew from Modern Ghosts and the Victorian anthologies, but they also included modern material by Algernon Blackwood, M R James and Richard Middleton (1882-1911). French's most distinctive anthology was The Best Psychic Stories (anth 1920), which, in seeking to explore Spiritualism, selected more modern and original material, including some nonfiction. His other anthologies of interest were Masterpieces of Mystery (anth 1920 4 vols; vol 2 titled Ghost Stories) and Tales of Terror (anth 1925). French's rival at the publisher Thomas Crowell was Joseph W McSpadden (1874-1960), who compiled the similar anthologies Famous Ghost Stories (anth 1918) – almost a copy of French's first volume, even though compiled contemporaneously – and Famous Psychic Stories (anth 1920), both assembled as Famous Psychic and Ghost Stories (omni 1938); these were less original than French's selections.

In the UK supernatural fiction was given the stamp of respectability by the editor of Everyman's Library, Ernest Rhys, who produced The Haunted and the Haunters (anth 1921) which, despite the inclusion of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's title story, was an eclectic selection, relying on stories and factual accounts that drew upon folklore and tradition. Another popular title of the period was A Muster of Ghosts (anth 1924; vt The Best Ghost Stories 1924 US) ed Bohun Lynch (1884-1928), which selected lesser-known but more commercial fiction, and is notable for being the first book to anthologize "Thurnley Abbey" (1908) by Perceval Landon (1869-1927).

The field was rapidly explored by educationalists. The pioneer was the US academic Dorothy Scarborough (1878-1935). Having already published her seminal work, The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction (1917), she compiled two representative anthologies – Famous Modern Ghost Stories (anth 1921) and Humorous Ghost Stories (anth 1921) – which were the first important modern Ghost-Story anthologies. The depth of her research is evidenced by the inclusion of a much wider range of material, including several stories which remain uncommon to this day. Her work was soon matched in the UK by Ghosts and Marvels: A Selection of Uncanny Tales from Daniel Defoe to Algernon Blackwood (anth 1924) ed Vere H Collins, whose selection of stories is relatively traditional and predictable, although it was the first to gather "The Lifted Veil" by George Eliot (1819-1880) and "The Moon-Slave" by Barry Pain. Its greatest importance lies in its introduction, by M R James, who sets down his views on and rules for the ghost story. The anthology's success led to More Ghosts and Marvels: A Selection of Uncanny Tales from Sir Walter Scott to Michael Arlen (anth 1927) ed Collins, which has a wider and more original selection of stories.

A significant development in the 1920s was the publication of an anthology of mainly original ghost stories. This was The Ghost Book (anth 1926) ed Cynthia Asquith, which much later, from 1952, led to a long-running series (see The Ghost Book). Asquith was able to acquire new stories from major writers and secure reprint rights to material from lesser-known literary (rather than popular-fiction) magazines. These stories of precognition, fate, revenge and mental disintegration – as well as more conventional Hauntings – brought the ghost story firmly into the 20th century, and marked the start of a Golden Age. Asquith produced other original anthologies, including The Black Cap (anth 1927), Shudders (anth 1929) and When Churchyards Yawn (anth 1931), which contained a reliable mixture of supernatural and macabre fiction. These volumes were later gathered in a single volume as A Century of Creepy Stories (cut omni 1934).

This period saw a vogue for huge anthologies. The trend began with the first anthology by Dorothy L Sayers (1893-1957): Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror (anth 1928; rev vt The Omnibus of Crime 1929 US; vt in 2 vols Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror: Part I 1939 and Part II 1939; cut vt in 3 vols Tales of Detection and Mystery anth 1962 US, Stories of the Supernatural anth 1963 US and Human and Inhuman Stories anth 1963 US). At over 1100 pages, it caught the imagination of devotees of both mystery and supernatural fiction, and sales were aided by Sayers's reputation. Her introduction, though concentrating on the detective story, showed a grasp and understanding of the supernatural story; and the selections, while feasting upon standard repast, had a few rarer aperitifs. Sayers compiled two further bumper volumes: Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror Vol 2 (anth 1931; rev vt The Second Omnibus of Crime 1932 US; vt The World's Great Crime Stories 1939 US; vt in 2 vols Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror: Part III 1939 and Part IV 1939) and Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror Vol 3 (anth 1934; rev vt The Second Omnibus of Crime 1942 US; vt in 2 vols Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror: Part V 1939 and Part VI 1939).

The 1930s began with some studious books. Great Ghost Stories (anth 1930) and More Great Ghost Stories (anth 1932), both ed Harrison Dale (1885-1969), are more useful for their historical introductions than for their fairly conventional selection. They Walk Again (anth 1931; vt The Ghost Book, 1932) ed Colin de la Mare (1906-1983) is notable not only for its revealing introduction by Walter de La Mare but for being the volume that rediscovered William Hope Hodgson. But the major anthologist of supernatural and Gothic literature was Montague Summers (1880-1948); he produced The Supernatural Omnibus (anth 1931; omitting 9 stories and adding 6 1932 US; reissued in 2 vols 1967). Although not as massive as Sayers's tomes, this idiosyncratic selection, with its lengthy and detailed historical evaluation of the field, presented a considerable range of new material and has seldom been out of print. After Scarborough's compilation, it set the standard for supernatural anthologies; along with the Sayers books it established the parameters of the medium, with its subdivisions: hauntings, Possession, diabolism and Black Magic. Summers produced two other worthy anthologies, The Grimoire and Other Supernatural Stories (anth 1936) and Victorian Ghost Stories (anth 1936); the latter is again valued for its detailed (if unbalanced) introduction.

Up to now, few anthologies had specialized in subgenres of the supernatural, but Devil Stories (anth 1921) ed Maximilian Rudwin (1885-1946) and The Devil in Scotland (anth 1934) ed Douglas Percy Bliss (1900-1984), both intended as literary studies, were early examples.

In the USA there was no equivalent of these anthologies, although some worthwhile volumes were appearing. C Armitage Harper sought to establish a national pedigree for the field in American Ghost Stories (anth 1928) – which contained some surprises – but the two most popular volumes drew their material from the magazines, especially the pulps. First was Beware After Dark (anth 1929) ed T Everett Harré (1884-1948), which mixed supernatural and horror stories, including selections from Weird Tales. Then came Creeps by Night (anth 1931; cut vt Modern Tales of Horror 1932 UK) ed Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961); this, apart from a few Slick Fantasies, selected material from a wide range of pulps and literary magazines, including WT.

The 1930s, the Golden Age of supernatural fiction in the UK, saw scores of bumper anthologies that often mixed mystery and horror with supernatural fiction, with the latter usually taking pride of place. These books, mostly edited anonymously by publishers' in-house staff, include: A Century of Thrillers from Poe to Arlen (anth 1934) and A Century of Thrillers: Second Series (anth 1935; cut vt Thrillers 1994); The Evening Standard Book of Strange Stories (anth 1934) and The Evening Standard Second Book of Strange Stories (anth 1937); and 50 Years of Ghost Stories (anth 1935; exp vt A Century of Ghost Stories, 1936; cut in 2 vols vt Let's Talk of Graves 1970 and Walk in Dread 1970) ed anon but in fact by Dorothy M Tomlinson. Others, with editors credited, included: The Mystery Book (anth 1934) and The Great Book of Thrillers (anth 1935; rev 1937; cut vt Great Tales of Terror 1991) both ed H Douglas Thomson (1905-1975); A Century of Horror (anth 1935) ed Dennis Wheatley; The Mammoth Book of Thrillers, Ghosts & Mysteries (anth 1936) ed J M Parrish and John R Crossland (1892-?   ); and A Second Century of Creepy Stories (anth 1937) ed Hugh Walpole (1884-1941). This was also the period of the Not at Night series and Creeps Library.

The only US parallel was The Haunted Omnibus (anth 1937; cut vt Great Ghost Stories of the World 1941), which reprinted familiar stories alongside lesser-known regional tales and Oriental Fantasies. Later, however, while WWII blighted UK publishing (although mini-anthologies, composed mostly of common reprints, continued to appear), the USA maintained the production of supernatural-fiction anthologies, particularly toward the end of the war. Some of these, like Famous Ghost Stories (anth 1944) ed Bennet Cerf (1899-1971), were aimed more towards prestige and immediate popularity than originality, but others, like Six Novels of the Supernatural (anth 1944) ed Edward Wagenknecht, are more interesting; the Wagenknecht book is a remarkable selection of lesser-known works from the previous 60 years. One of the most significant books of the period was Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (anth 1944; cut vt Tales of Terror and the Supernatural 1994 as ed anon) ed Herbert A Wise (1890-1961) and Phyllis A Fraser (1916-2006). Although containing nothing new, the book seemed to capture the public's imagination, and has remained almost constantly in print; it has often been cited as an inspiration for the next generation of writers.

After this flurry, however, the number of supernatural-fiction anthologies decreased rapidly, as the post-WWII technology boom swept ghosts and phantoms into the corners. The only editor who sought to produce consistently high-quality anthologies was August W Derleth. Starting with the successful Sleep No More (anth 1944), he assembled a series of anthologies that were resourceful and exciting. Although he to a fair extent relied on Weird Tales, this source did not dominate the anthologies; and his selections covered UK and regional writers, plus the occasional unknown. Derleth sustained the series through Who Knocks? (anth 1946), The Night Side (anth 1947) and The Sleeping and the Dead (anth 1947) before the market began to fail. All are consistent in quality and coverage, and this remains an impressive body of work. He managed to issue one further anthology, Night's Yawning Peal (anth 1952), through his own Arkham House, but by then the market really had folded. Apart from The Supernatural Reader (anth 1953) ed Groff and Lucy Conklin, which like Derleth's selections came predominantly from the better-quality pulps and UK writers (and was mainly Slick Fantasy), no other significant supernatural anthology appeared in the USA until the 1960s.

In the UK the next revival of interest started earlier. This was due almost solely to Herbert van Thal (1904-1983), who, through the company he worked for (Arthur Barker) and various publishing connections, encouraged others to edit anthologies and then did so himself. His earliest anthologies, Told in the Dark (anth 1950) and A Book of Strange Stories (anth 1954), were a mixture of well known and obscure items. Through Barker's he published R C Bull's highly original anthology Perturbed Spirits (anth 1954), which concentrated almost wholly on rare and forgotten fiction and is significant for resurrecting stories by Grant Allen, Dick Donovan (real name J E Preston-Muddock; 1842-1934), William Hope Hodgson and Hume Nisbet. The book was an "unqualified success", leading to a successor, Snapdragon (anth 1955) ed Mervyn Savill, which contains more fantasy and horror than supernatural fiction, and has some rare selections by European writers. But it lacked the popular appeal of its predecessor, and consequently van Thal's proposal for an annual Christmas anthology was shelved. He returned to the idea with The Pan Book of Horror Stories (anth 1959), whose success inaugurated the longest-running annual series of anthologies in the world (see Pan Book of Horror Stories). The early volumes contained some supernatural fiction, but it soon began to focus almost solely on physical horror. The success of the series, and the resurgence of interest in Horror Movies, began to revive the field, but most of the anthologies published in the early 1960s, in both the UK and the USA, carried lacklustre retreads. Only Derleth showed any enterprise, producing an original anthology of Weird Fiction, Dark Mind, Dark Heart (anth 1962) – best-known now for introducing Ramsey Campbell. Although Derleth's new anthologies (and reprints of his earlier ones) provided a foundation of quality, little else emerged until the mid-1960s, when the field was again revived.

The first hope came from Robert Aickman, who began The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories series in 1964. Aickman was methodical in his choice of fiction, and never settled for second-best; he also endeavoured to have as much variety as possible. The success of the first volume inaugurated another long-running series. In the later volumes, edited by R Chetwynd-Hayes, the quality dropped but the diversity remained, and the series opened up a market for new stories as well as reprints.

This was a characteristic of the next phase, too. In 1952 Cynthia Asquith had edited her The Second Ghost Book (anth 1952), followed by The Third Ghost Book (anth 1955). These anthologies had contained new or almost new stories by many of the writers from her original The Ghost Book (anth 1926) plus the latest literary generation (see The Ghost Book). These stories brought a quiet, craftsmanlike quality to the ghost story, focusing on the subtle and psychological aspects rather than the overtly supernatural. James Turner (1909-1975) revived the series with The Fourth Ghost Book (anth 1965), then the series became a regular annual under the control of Rosemary Timperley (1920-1988) from The Fifth Ghost Book (anth 1969). With #4 the series had become a market for new stories, and thus encouraged tales from Joan Aiken, Denys Val Baker, George Mackay Brown, D G Compton (1930-    ), Elizabeth Fancett, Jean Stubbs (1926-2012), Paul Tabori (1908-1974), William Trevor (1928-2016) and Fred Urquhart (1912-1995), plus the steadfast L P Hartley. The series continued under other editors – Aidan Chambers and James Hale – and these editors in turn produced further anthologies of similar mood. A few other anthologies of the period shared the same minimalist approach to the supernatural – and often the same authors. These included: Tales of Unease (anth 1966), More Tales of Unease (anth 1969) and New Tales of Unease (anth 1976), all ed John F Burke (1922-2011); and Prevailing Spirits (anth 1976) and A Book of Contemporary Nightmares (anth 1977), both ed Giles Gordon (1940-2003) – though the latter volume ventured more into Contemporary Fantasy and horror. The real spiritual descendants of the Ghost Book series were the anthologies published by William Kimber, in particular the series ed Denys Val Baker and Amy Myers (1938-    ). Baker's series started with Haunted Cornwall (anth 1973) and then moved through a roughly thematic sequence with Stories of the Night (anth 1976), Stories of the Macabre (anth 1976) and others, but later it concentrated mostly on ghost stories, especially in rural settings: Cornish Ghost Stories (anth 1981), Ghosts in Country Houses (anth 1981), Ghosts in Country Villages (anth 1983) and others. Myers instigated the After Midnight Stories series (After Midnight Stories anth 1985; The Second Book of After Midnight Stories anth 1986; The Third Book anth 1987; The Fourth Book anth 1988, and The Fifth Book anth 1991), which contained mostly new material. All of these sustained, for over 20 years, a continuity of new and original writing applying both conventional and innovative treatment.

The third factor influencing anthologies in the mid-1960s was the work of the UK editor Peter Haining. During a period of over 30 years Haining has become the most prolific solo anthologist in the field and, although his anthologies are predominantly of reprinted stories, he has striven to include rarer material among the better-known. Haining was there when the UK paperback market began to rediscover supernatural and horror fiction, and he was instrumental in the creation of the notion of the thematic anthology. Because he had come to the field through his interest in Black Magic and Occultism, his books focused more on these aspects; although earlier anthologies had included such material, few had been devoted to these themes. (John Keir Cross's Best Black Magic Stories [anth 1960] and Frederick Pickersgill's No Such Thing as a Vampire [anth 1964] were two exceptions.) From the mid-1960s, however, thematic anthologies began to erupt in both the UK and the USA, with Haining invariably leading the way. His anthologies tended to focus on the Evil within humankind rather than in nature or beyond; consequently, many are more of horror than of the supernatural, certainly in intent if not in content. Those more overtly supernatural include three Vampire anthologies – The Midnight People (anth 1968; vt Vampires at Midnight 1970 US), Shades of Dracula (anth 1982) and Vampire (anth 1985) – three witchcraft (see Witches) anthologies – The Witchcraft Reader (anth 1969), A Circle of Witches (anth 1971) and Hallowe'en Hauntings (anth 1984) – and in particular four anthologies of black magic and diabolism – The Satanists (anth 1969), The Necromancers (anth 1971), The Magicians (anth 1972) and The Black Magic Omnibus (anth 1976). Haining's main contributions to the development of supernatural-fiction anthologies were to broaden the market from straight ghost stories, which he felt had become passé, and to package them with a spicier image, thus attracting the more liberated readers of the late 1960s and 1970s. By the end of the 1970s the supernatural anthology field as a whole had shifted significantly away from ghosts toward the occult, while increasing numbers of anthologies were devoted solely to stories of vampires, werebeasts (see Werewolves), Zombies and other Monsters, not to mention the Cthulhu Mythos.

One other characteristic became evident in the 1960s and 1970s: the increasing number of supernatural-fiction anthologies designed for younger readers. Wilhelmina Harper (1884-1973) had assembled Ghosts and Goblins (anth 1936; rev 1964), but this contained predominantly Folktales. The enterprising Franklin Watts had issued Ghosts, Ghosts, Ghosts (anth 1952) ed Phyllis R Fenner (1899-1982) which, while still relying on quaint old tales, did include more modern material. The time did not seem ripe, though, until the mid-1960s when Watts published Spooks, Spooks, Spooks (anth 1966) ed Helen Hoke (1903-1990). This developed into a regular series, most volumes being identified by the trifold title. Titles of relevant interest include Weirdies (anth 1973), Ghosts & Ghastlies (anth 1976), Ghostly, Grim and Gruesome (anth 1976), Creepies, Creepies, Creepies (anth 1977; vt Creepies: A Covey of Quiver-and-Quaver Tales 1977 UK), Eerie, Weird and Wicked (anth 1977), Haunts! Haunts! Haunts! (anth 1977; vt Spectres, Spooks & Shuddery Shades 1977 UK); Fear! Fear! Fear! (anth 1980), More Ghosts, Ghosts, Ghosts (anth 1981), Sinister, Strange and Supernatural (anth 1981), Tales of Fear and Frightening Phenomena (anth 1982), Ghostly, Ghoulish, Gripping Tales (anth 1983), Uncanny Tales of Unearthly & Unexpected Horrors (anth 1983), Spirits, Spooks, and Other Sinister Creatures (anth 1984), and Horrifying and Hideous Hauntings (anth 1986) with Franklin Watts. In the UK several paperback series emerged. Christine Bernard (1926-2000) began the The Armada Ghost Book (anth 1967), continued after #2 by Mary Danby (1941-    ) and which reached #15 (see Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories); Aidan Chambers edited Ghosts (anth 1969) with Nancy Chambers and Ghosts 2 (anth 1972), though the latter contained stories mostly by Chambers himself; Richard Davis (1945-2005) edited the Spectre series (Spectre 1 anth 1973; #2 anth 1975; #3 anth 1976; #4 anth 1977) and also edited Animal Ghosts (anth 1980); and following Haunting Tales (anth 1973), Barbara Ireson (1927-    ) edited Spooky Stories (Spooky Stories anth 1975; #2 anth 1979; #3 anth 1981; #4 anth 1982; #5 anth 1983, and #6 anth 1984) plus other notable volumes including Ghostly and Ghastly (anth 1977), Creepy Creatures (anth 1978), Ghostly Laughter (anth 1981) and Fearfully Frightening (anth 1984). There were also such singleton volumes as The House of the Nightmare (anth 1967) and The Haunted and the Haunters (anth 1977) both ed Kathleen Lines (1902-1988), and The Restless Ghost (anth 1970; vt The Usurping Ghost 1971 US; UK paperback cut vt in 2 vols Ghostly Experiences anth 1973 and Ghostly Encounters anth 1973) ed Susan Dickinson (1931-    ). More recently there have been Ghost Stories (anth 1988) ed Robert Westall, The Walker Book of Ghost Stories (anth 1990) ed Susan Hill, The Young Oxford Book of Ghost Stories (anth 1994) ed Dennis Pepper and Dread and Delight: A Century of Children's Ghost Stories (anth 1995) ed Philippa Pearce. (see Ghost Stories for Children.)

The popular anthologies of the 1960s led, in the 1970s, to an increase in attention from more serious and academic publishers. E F Bleiler produced several anthologies of rare Victorian material, including Five Victorian Ghost Novels (anth 1971), Three Supernatural Novels of the Victorian Period (anth 1975) and A Treasury of Victorian Ghost Stories (anth 1981). Sustaining the interest in Victorian and rare early fiction were the many anthologies edited by Hugh Lamb (1946-2019), Richard Dalby and Jessica Amanda Salmonson, plus Victorian Ghost Stories (anth 1991) ed Michael Cox (1948-    ) and R A Gilbert (1942-    ). Further examples of academic interest in the 1970s were Edges of Reality (anth 1972) ed Leo B Kneer and Ruth S Cohen, The Supernatural in Fiction (anth 1973) ed Leo P Kelley (1928-2002) and Lost Souls (anth 1983) ed Jack Sullivan (1946-    ). The re-emergence of the ghost story received a stamp of approval from the London Times through a ghost-story competition that resulted in The Times Anthology of Ghost Stories (anth 1975).

By the 1980s publishers were confident enough to return to the bumper-anthology style of the 1930s. In the UK, Hamlyn led the way with The Best Ghost Stories (anth 1977; cut by 16 stories 1990 US) ed anon. The UK publisher Anthony Cheetham commissioned US literary agent Kirby McCauley (1941-2014) to produce his landmark anthology of supernatural horror Dark Forces (anth 1980), which sought to set new parameters for the subgenre. Thereafter the field took off. In the USA Marvin Kaye assembled Ghosts: A Treasury of Chilling Tales Old & New (anth 1981; cut by 14 stories and all appendices vt A Classic Collection of Haunting Ghost Stories 1993 UK). Kaye has since compiled several authoritative anthologies, including Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural (anth 1985), Devils and Demons (anth 1987), Witches and Warlocks (anth 1990), Haunted America (anth 1991) and Masterpieces of Terror and the Unknown (anth 1993). In the UK there have been prestigious and high-profile anthologies like Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories (anth 1983) ed Roald Dahl, Ghost Stories (anth 1983) ed Susan Hill – neither of which contained much that was new, but both of which gave the field added respectability – The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories (anth 1984) ed J A Cuddon, The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories (anth 1986) ed Michael Cox and R A Gilbert, and The Chatto Book of Ghosts (anth 1994) ed Jenny Uglow.

In the USA similar prestige came with The Oxford Book of Canadian Ghost Stories (anth 1990) ed Alberto Manguel, The Literary Ghost (anth 1991) ed Larry Dark (1959-    ) and The New Gothic (anth 1991) ed Bradford Morrow (1951-    ) and Patrick McGrath (1950-    ). In addition there have been many supernatural anthologies compiled by Martin H Greenberg in collaboration with various co-editors, especially his series of regional ghost-story anthologies assembled with Frank D McSherry (1927-1997) and Charles G Waugh (1943-    ) – which culminated in Great American Ghost Stories (anth 1991; cut 2 vols 1992, 1993). There were also the Shadows series (ed Charles L Grant) and the Night Visions series (various editors), both of which ushered the traditional supernatural anthology into the domain of horror, a metamorphosis that was explored in The Dark Descent (anth 1987) ed David G Hartwell.

Although some may regard the ghost story as a dying form, that view is belied by the continued – and increasing – appearance of ghost-story and supernatural-fiction anthologies. Over half the anthologies in this field have appeared in the past 20 years, many of a high standard and featuring new stories. In the absence of Magazines carrying ghost and supernatural tales, the anthology has become the main proving ground for new authors ... and the main salvation for vintage material. [MA]

Horror Anthologies

Most early writings of Gothic Fantasy and Supernatural Fiction were intended to induce emotions of horror, but this was more an issue of impact on and interaction with the reader than necessarily of content. Horror fiction that contains no (or only ersatz) supernatural content – that is, fiction that locates Evil in society and humankind (or individual humans) rather than in of the spirit world – is beyond the purview of this encyclopedia. It is distinct from Fantasy (notably, in this context, Dark Fantasy) and supernatural fiction in that it focuses upon (and generally offers no Healing solution to) a breakdown or disintegration of the world order. This section of this article also explores those areas where authors go beyond the cultural conventions of the day to induce horror and revulsion while remaining within the realms of the fantastic.

Horror ran in tandem with supernatural fiction for most of the Victorian period. Although its parameters had been explored by Edgar Allan Poe and others, it was not until Robert Louis Stevenson's Technofantasy Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) that the true nature of the individual's potential for horror and evil emerged (at least, in fiction). At about the same time, the French writers Guy de Maupassant and Villiers de L'Isle-Adam were developing the medium known as Contes Cruels; paralleling the French theatrical movement of Grand Guignol, this medium established a cultural acceptance of the treatment of physical horror. Nevertheless, the intent to explore this in fiction was limited and anyway most anthologies of the time were of reprinted material. No original anthology emerged until Frederick Stuart Greene (1870-1939) boldly came up with The Grim 13 (anth 1917), which collected together fiction that had been rejected by magazines as too horrible or unconventional. This anthology remains little known, despite the stature of its contributors, who included Stacy Aumonier (1887-1928), Dana Burnet (1888-1962), Will Levington Comfort (1878-1932), Marie Belloc Lowndes (1868-1947), Ethel Watts Mumford (1878-1940) and Vincent O'Sullivan. Few of its stories involve the supernatural, but all reflect an inherent understanding of cultural transgression.

Weird Tales (founded 1923) was the first magazine regularly to publish stories of the bizarre and unusual. Although most of the early stories were standard tales of Hauntings or Monsters, there were also more gruesome stories of humankind's inhumanity. It was this more lurid context that appealed to Christine Campbell Thomson (1897-1985) when she assembled Not at Night (anth 1925), which drew its contents wholly from the magazine. The success of this book led to a series, Not at Night, which by #4 included mostly original material from UK writers. Among the better horror stories were "The Horror at Red Hook" and "Pickman's Model" by H P Lovecraft (this series was the first to anthologize Lovecraft's stories), "The Dead Woman" by David H Keller, "The Chain" by H Warner Munn, "The Copper Bowl" by George Fielding Eliot (1894-1971) and stories by Campbell Thomson herself (as Flavia Richardson) and her husband Oscar Cook (1888-1952). By the time the series concluded with the retrospective Not at Night Omnibus (omni 1937), a similar UK series had emerged from publisher Philip Allan (1884-1973) as part of his Creeps Library. A series of anthologies, compiled by Allan's house editor Charles Birkin – who delighted in the conte cruel – began with Creeps (anth 1932). A typical horror story in the first volume is "The Charnel House" by Allan himself under his pseudonym Philip Murray, about an anatomist who prepares bodies for study and, after his death, is aware of the preparation of his own body. Birkin's own first stories (as Charles Lloyd) appeared in this series. (Both the Creeps and Not at Night series were key sources when Herbert van Thal began compiling his Pan Book of Horror Stories series 30 years later.)

Far superior were the occasional anthologies edited by T I F Armstrong (John Gawsworth), usually anonymously, starting with Strange Assembly (anth 1932) and including several bumper volumes: New Tales of Horror (anth 1934), Crimes, Creeps and Thrills (anth 1936), Masterpiece of Thrills (anth 1936) and Thrills (anth 1936). Gawsworth drew upon his friendships with Oswell Blakeston (1907-1985), Edgar Jepson, Arthur Machen, E H W Meyerstein (1889-1952), M P Shiel, E H Visiak, and other littérateurs of the 1930s to compile relatively sophisticated commercial anthologies. Many of the stories are nonsupernatural, but Gawsworth encouraged tales occupying the borderland between madness and the outré, which epitomized horror fiction of this period. It was in the 1930s that the word "horror" once more became acceptable in book titles, a standard anthology being A Century of Horror (anth 1935) ed Dennis Wheatley.

The interest in horror faded during WWII and, despite their titles, anthologies like Tales of Terror (anth 1943) ed Boris Karloff (real name William Henry Pratt; 1887-1969) and Terror at Night (anth 1947) ed Herbert Williams (1914-    ) concentrated more on Supernatural Fiction. The only significant horror anthology of the 1950s was Terror in the Modern Vein (anth 1955) ed Donald A Wollheim, which sought to demonstrate the effectiveness with which the supernatural could be deployed in modern surroundings and circumstances. Following the success of Hammer movies like The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and The Horror of Dracula (1958), the UK publisher Pan Books issued The Pan Book of Horror Stories (anth 1959) ed Herbert Van Thal (1904-1983). The volume was instantly successful, and spawned a series that ran for 30 vols (1959-1989), the last six ed Clarence Paget (1909-1991); the series was succeeded by Dark Voices, beginning with Dark Voices (anth 1990) ed Stephen Jones and Paget. Van Thal's series drew heavily upon the Not at Night and Creeps volumes, and increasingly focused on physical horror and graphic violence and depravity rather than supernatural horror, thus serving as forerunner to the Splatterpunk movement of the 1980s.

The success of the Pan Book of Horror Stories series revived publishers' interests in the medium in both the UK and the USA. The Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories series (anth 1966-1984 17 vols) ed Christine Bernard (1926-2000) for #1-#4 and from #5 by Mary Danby (see Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories); was more selective, and the stories were generally of a higher quality. Other anthologies at this time were: The Tandem Book of Horror Stories (anth 1965) ed Charles Birkin, which initiated a short (retitled) series (Tandem Horror 2 [anth 1968] and Tandem Horror 3 [anth 1969] both ed Davis); Best Tales of Terror (anth 1962) and Best Tales of Terror 2 (anth 1965) both ed Edmund Crispin (real name Bruce Montgomery; 1921-1978); Best Horror Stories (anth 1956) and Best Horror Stories 2 (anth 1965), both ed John Keir Cross with Best Horror Stories 3 (anth 1972) ed Alex Hamilton (1930-    ); Taboo (anth 1964) ed anon Paul Neimark, which sought to test the boundaries of sexuality; and a steady flow of anthologies from Peter Haining.

Haining's first anthology, The Hell of Mirrors (anth 1965) explored the horror of Dreams and nightmares, a theme he returned to in The Nightmare Reader (anth 1973), but his excursion into horror became most noticeable with The Evil People (anth 1968) and The Unspeakable People (anth 1969), the latter noted for including stories considered outrageous or banned at the time of their original publication.

But it was really not until the popularity of the movie The Exorcist (1973) and the novels of Stephen King that horror reawakened as a marketable commodity. This became evident in the cluster of anthologies ed Michel Parry (1947-2014) in the mid-1970s, the Victorian and other selections ed Hugh Lamb (1946-2019) – which focused on horror imagery – the first anthology ed Ramsey CampbellSuperhorror (1976; vt The Far Reaches of Fear 1980) – and Frights (anth 1976; as 2 vols Frights 1 and Frights 2 1979 UK) ed Kirby McCauley. It was Campbell and McCauley who established the landmark anthologies of horror: Campbell with New Terrors (anth 1980 2 vols) and McCauley with Dark Forces (anth 1980). Both these assemblages brought horror up to date by emphasizing the disintegration of society under supernatural or spiritual affliction.

In 1980 Karl Edward Wagner took over for 3 vols the Year's Best Horror Stories series started by Richard Davis in 1971, being followed by Gerald W Page (1939-    ) for 4 vols. Along with the original anthologies ed Charles L Grant, especially the Shadows series, these set the markers for horror fiction in the 1980s which became increasingly dominated by physical and erotic horror and the Splatterpunk movement. This field has been dominated by anthologies of original fiction, with contributors charged to push back the barriers. Prominent among these have been: the Masques series (1984-1991) ed J N Williamson; Cutting Edge (anth 1986) and Metahorror (anth 1992) both ed Dennis Etchison; Prime Evil (anth 1988) ed Douglas E Winter (1950-    ); Splatterpunks: Extreme Horror (anth 1990) ed Paul M Sammon (1949-    ); the Borderlands series (1990-1993) ed Thomas F Monteleone; the Dark Voices series ed Stephen Jones and David A Sutton (1947-    ); and the Narrow Houses series (1992-1994) ed Peter Crowther, which concentrates on Superstitions.

Attempts to define the field through anthologies were made in: The Penguin Book of Horror Stories (anth 1984) ed J A Cuddon; A Treasury of American Horror Stories (anth 1985) ed Frank D McSherry (1927-1997), Charles G Waugh (1943-    ) and Martin H Greenberg; the Masters of Darkness series ed Dennis Etchison; and two giant anthologies ed David G Hartwell, The Dark Descent (anth 1987) and Foundations of Fear (anth 1992) – although these latter two volumes consider horror for its effect rather than in the thematic sense, and thus include many Supernatural Fictions. Two annual series have been The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (from 1988) ed Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling and Best New Horror (from 1990) ed Ramsey Campbell and Stephen Jones. Both give an exemplary coverage of the field.

Horror for younger readers (see Children's Fantasy) did not really emerge until the last decade, although Helen Hoke (1903-1990) edited a number of anthologies starting with Witches, Witches, Witches (anth 1958); most are supernatural, and draw on folklore and children's tales. Ramsey Campbell sought to share his own childhood nightmares in The Gruesome Book (anth 1983), and Mary Danby (1941-    ) produced the short Nightmares series (1983-1985) of original anthologies. But it was not until the young-horror boom of the 1990s that such anthologies became more graphic: examples are Thirteen (anth 1991; vt Thirteen Tales of Terror 1992 UK) ed Tonya Pines, Thirteen More Tales of Horror (anth 1994) ed A(nne) Finnis and 13 Again (anth 1995) ed Finnis.

The re-emergence of horror fiction is a reflection of society's increasing obsession with and terror of violence, and of the pressures of the late 20th century, when fear of the world about us has replaced our fear of the supernatural – although both fears are fuelled by the same imaginative powers. The modern horror anthology has become the home for stories of explicit violence and eroticism; in intent, at least, little has changed since the Gothic and supernatural anthologies published 200 years earlier. [MA]

further reading: The Supernatural Index (1995) by Mike Ashley and William G Contento indexes over 2200 anthologies.


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.