Born in 1790 to a middle-class family, there is not much known about the early life of Catherine Crowe. in 1822 she married her husband Major John Crowe and they had a son together. Dreadfully unhappy, she asked her friends to help her escape and in 1833 she moved to Edinburgh where she would restart her life as a writer. Catherine held very strong spiritual beliefs so it is no surprise that this followed into her work as a writer.
She went on to publish 5 novels, many short stories and 2 volumes described as supernatural tales.
Spirits of the dead who cannot break their link with the Earth, the unfathomable mysteries of dreams that predict the future, apparitions, doppelgangers, haunted houses and poltergeists - Catherine Crowe's book examines these and other cases of supernatural happenings.
In 1848, the book 'The night side of nature' was released and is considered to be groundbreaking for its time. Reviewed by the Literary Examiner, it was described as “one of the most extraordinary collections of ‘Ghost Stories’ that has ever been published”. The tales themselves are often narrated by people in everyday settings or are an account of letters describing phenomena. In 1859 she followed this up with 'Ghosts and Family Legends. While not as popular as the first book, it was a much anticipated and loved 'sequel'. What was most loved about the books was the very honest nature in which they were written. She did her research on the cases she featured to ensure that she wasn't over embellishing the facts. It meant that some people found the work to be 'mundane' as there were no shocks or surprises in the storytelling. In fact, it wasn't really storytelling, they were actual accounts. It was what makes this book and the accounts, all the more reputable.
Crowe sometimes gained criticism for her strong belief in the paranormal and she herself was critical of those who did not believe activity happening before their eyes. In her own words from the book
While her own views may have attracted criticism, it was the way she honestly presented everyday accounts of supernatural activity to the wider public. It is important to remember that this was before the spiritualist movement so in some ways, it was ahead of its time. It helped to shape the way that a lot of people in the Victorian Era perceive a ghost or spirit. She was even deemed insane and crazy by some who believed she was haunted by spirits. This is how the paranormal was often viewed during these times. The people who saw 'ghosts' were seen as crazy! It took a lot of courage to not only be so public about the paranormal but to write a book and stand so firmly by your belief, no matter what the public thought.
When you look back in history at some of the great paranormal storytellers, her work is a must-read!
In a lot of literature from the past, any sort of paranormal activity was viewed as the work of the devil due to the religious influence of the times. These accounts in this book are not like this which is what makes them so refreshing and different from works of the past. Crowe has gone down in the paranormal history books as an important figure based on this very piece of work.
Click here to read The Night-Side of Nature; Or, Ghosts and Ghost-Seers by Catherine Crowe
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