27 October 2020
Published alongside James Machin’s anthology of classic British Weird short fiction, British Weird, Women’s Weird 2 contains thirteen remarkably chilling stories originally published from 1891 to 1937, by women authors from the USA, the UK, New Zealand, Canada, India and Australia. Read thoroughly frightening fiction by the most unexpected of Weird authors: Stella Gibbons, L M Montgomery and Katherine Mansfield.
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These classic Weird short stories include:
- Edith Stewart Drewry, ‘A Twin-Identity’ (1891)
- Lettice Galbraith, ‘The Blue Room’ (1897)
- Sarah Orne Jewett, ‘The Green Bowl’ (1901)
- Barbara Baynton, ‘A Dreamer’ (1902)
- Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, ‘The Hall Bedroom’ (1905)
- Katherine Mansfield, ‘The House’ (1912)
- Bithia Mary Croker, ‘The Red Bungalow’ (1919)
- Bessie Kyffin-Taylor, ‘Outside the House’ (1920)
- Marjorie Bowen, ‘Florence Flannery’ (1924)
- Helen Simpson, ‘Young Magic’ (1925)
- Lucy Maud Montgomery, ‘The House Party at Smoky Island’ (1935)
- Mary Elizabeth Counselman, ‘The Black Stone Statue’ (1937)
- Stella Gibbons, ‘The Roaring Tower’ (1937)
Melissa Edmundson’s introduction explores how the evolving Weird tradition was interpreted using colonial settings, and goes on to describe how writing Weird fitted naturally into the careers of writers like L M Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) and Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm) who were not normally considered exponents of supernatural fiction.
Reviews (so many reviews …)
The Guardian featured both Women’s Weird 2 and Women’s Weird in October 2020, raising awareness of the work Melissa has done to recover these lost authors.
The Washington Post loved it: ‘terrifically enjoyable, surreal’.
‘One of the best anthologies of the year’ – Bookmunch
‘Whether you’re into ghosts, demons, fish-men, or tentacled mystery beings, the stories in Women’s Weird 2 explore the full range of the Weird, and you’re sure to find new horrors unlike anything you’ve encountered before.’- The Gothic Library
The British Science Fiction Association said: ‘Melissa Edmundson refuses to pin down a definition of the Weird. She discusses the history of the genre and considers ghost stories, Victorian Gothic and encounters with the unknown. But she places the stories chosen within a broader tradition of supernatural writing by women. As a reader, I enjoyed the mixture of flavours and moods, which results from this eclecticism, in preference to a narrow focus on one kind of tale.’
‘Like the first volume, Women’s Weird 2 contains 13 stories of the weird and supernatural by women writers spanning the formative years of the genre … the tension between society’s expectation of domestic roles for women and women gaining more agency for themselves is made more explicit … In keeping with the high standard of all Handheld Press releases, the volume contains wonderful cover art, another fascinating introductory essay by Melissa Edmundson further illustrating the context of these stories and their place in the weird, and extensive explanatory footnotes from Kate Macdonald. This is another essential purchase for fans and scholars of weird fiction alike. ‘ – The Fantasy Hive
‘Women’s Weird 2 is altogether readable and compelling. It provides a better portal into this increasingly popular genre than many of the recently released books that promise to provide maps of the horror genre “for girls.” Editor Melissa Edmundson has produced a valuable collection for scholars and curious readers alike.’ – New York Journal of Books
‘the book shows how rich and diverse women’s weird fiction was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in supernatural fiction.’ – reviews in Supernatural Tales focus on several of these stories, including those by Stella Gibbons, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, and Helen Simpson.
‘The primary strength of the Women’s Weird collections is the intersection of an expert-curated anthology and making this material accessible to worldwide audiences. In helping the average reader rediscover a critical part of the past of the Weird, collections like this will heavily influence how the genre continues to develop. We will always have our Weird essentials, but with these collections, we are starting to get an idea of the bigger picture, and I, for one, cannot wait to see where this influence and understanding lead us.’ – What Sleeps Beneath
‘It’s a strong collection – which I had expected (13 tales included, and again I consider this a nice touch), and arguably more entertaining than volume 1 – which I found genuinely unsettling at times. This one is safe to read late at night – although Helen Simpson’s ‘Young Magic’ is the sort of thing that burrows into my imagination and sticks there (like a slug in an apple). Nothing especially bad happens in it, but it’s all very disquieting. As ever with Handheld’s books the introductions, bibliography, notes, and biographical details are a real bonus. As collections to read just for the fun of the thing I absolutely recommend both books, but the scholarly element really makes them something more.’ –Desperate Reader
‘What I love about both of the editions of Women’s Weird is the amount of research that has gone into finding the perfect stories from brilliant women authors. ‘ – Bookish Chat
‘many small and beautifully constructed worlds … all were superbly crafted and chilling in their own way … a particularly female collection – all the stories (apart from one) have strong women at their heart, either as narrators or protagonists, and the fact that they were all written by women makes the collection coherent and the tales all the more chilling.’ – Indie Book Network
‘This is a fantastic collection of stories that manages to add to the previous anthology perfectly – if you enjoyed the first, it’ll be a must read. Perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson and Mary Shelley, or for those interested in the ways women use speculative writing to explore their changing reality through the first half of the 20th century. As ever, read the enlightening introduction last, for fear of spoiling the twists! Unsettling, fascinating, and thoroughly enjoyable’ – A Cat, A Book, and a Cup of Tea
Horrifed loved it. ‘Melissa Edmundson provides an interesting introduction, which focuses on the interaction of the Weird with a developing modernity: ‘our ghosts change as we change; like us, they must adapt, and in so doing, reflect modern sensibilities and complexities’ … ‘A Dreamer’ by Barbara Baynton is one of those stories which might not have made it into a collection less concerned with a broad range of the Weird. A particularly short tale, it has no supernatural elements in it at all, but absolutely drips with dread and tension … ‘Outside the House’ by Bessie Kyffin-Taylor is my final pick; a Weird tale which – with its origin story about greed and wealth leading to a truly malevolent haunting by the ‘underclass’ – sits alongside ‘The Red Bungalow’ in demonstrating the new concerns of fiction writers of this period. It uses War iconography to conjure up a nightmarish No-Mans-Land of smoke, fire, blackened bodies, skeletons, and human greed.’
‘While the stories in this collection represent an amalgamation of sub-genres ranging from outright ghost stories to “what did he bring back from the jungle?” pulpy horror adventures, the common thread of weirdness ties them all together. Many of the stories also have elements of surreal or disturbing domesticity (note how many of the titles include houses, rooms, etc.), which may be attributed to the era and the commonality of the authors’ gender.’ – Gingernuts of Horror
‘Women’s Weird 2 forcefully reveals that women were always already part of Weird fiction and that previous genre histories and genealogies must be reconsidered. Edmundson’s collections serve two purposes: to broaden the Weird tradition beyond cosmic horror and to position women writers squarely within that broader field. Both aspects are much needed corrections for readers and scholars of the Weird; it is too easy for both fans and critics to become too myopic in our tastes and inclusions, or to think that only contemporary literature brings in revisions of literary traditions. Edmundson wards off such easy assumptions.’ – Fantastika
You can to listen to Melissa talking about Women’s Weird 2 in the latest episode in the very useful Weird Tales Radio Show podcast. They have helpfully bookmarked her interview so you can click straight to it!
You may also be interested in these supernatural collections
Women’s Weird: the original anthology edited by Melissa Edmundson. Contains thirteen excellent supernatural stories encompassing the boundaries of Weird by outstanding women authors. Includes stories by Edith Wharton, May Sinclair, Margery Lawrence and E Nesbit.
British Weird: edited by James Machin, this collection of short supernatural fiction from 1893 to 1937 displays an unsettling mastery of Weird preoccupations.
The Villa and The Vortex, by Elinor Mordaunt: we bring this exceptionally good writer of Weird fiction back into print with this new anthology of her best supernatural writing.
The Outcast and The Rite, by the Australian writer Helen Simpson, this collects the best of her unsettling supernatural writing, adding some little-known stories to her 1925 collection The Baseless Fabric (to be published in May 2022).
From the Abyss, by D K Broster, a spectacularly good collection of the Weird short fiction that this very popular historical novelist wrote alongside her novels of the eighteenth century (to be published in August 2022).