The Clock Strikes Twelve

Arkham House

First Printing, 1946; edition of 3000 copies

Hardcover; 138 pp.

Cover art by Ronald Clyne

One of the last original collections of the author's work published during his lifetime

 

Strayers From Sheol

Arkham House

First Printing, 1946; edition of 3000 copies

Hardcover; 138 pp.

Cover art by Ronald Clyne

One of the last original collections of the author's work published during his lifetime

 

They Return at Evening

Ash-Tree Press

First Printing, 1995

Hardcover; 170 pp.

Cover art by Paul Lowe

Reprints the author's first collection of supernatural tales, first published in 1928

Reunion at Dawn and Other Uncollected Ghost Stories

Ash-Tree Press

First Printing, April 2000; edition of 600 copies

Hardcover; 173 pp.

Cover art by Paul Lowe

Collects seventeen of the author's tales of the supernatural, previously unpublished in any form
In the 1970s, while I was acquiring an education in high fantasy by way of the Adult Fantasy Series, I was also discovering the world of supernatural fiction thanks to August Derleth and Arkham House. Derleth had founded Arham House in order to preserve the horror fiction of his friend and correspondent H.P. Lovecraft, but through the years he also published many of the day's greatest purveyors of the classic ghost story, both British and American. Wakefield, Margery Lawrence, Water de la Mare, Russell Kirk, Carl Jacobi, Sheridan Le Fanu, and many others have been represented in the Arkham House catalog. In every case, their respective AH titles were my first experience with the work of each of these writers.

Before I ever read Wakefield or any of the others, I had already experienced the visceral and otherwordly pleasures of Lovecraft and his Mythos tales. In their stories, Wakefield et al. introduced me to an often more subtle but no less chilling vision of the world.
- Doc, March 2007

A Brief Bio of H.R. Wakefield
Another writer to come out of Great Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was Herbert Russell Wakefield. Born in 1888, Wakefield was a short story writer and novelist, as well as a publisher and civil servant. He is remembered primarily, when he is remembered at all, for his ghost stories and other tales of the supernatural.

These were published in several collections during the course of his lengthy writing career: They Return At Evening (1928), Old Man's Beard: Fifteen Disturbing Tales (1929), Imagine a Man in a Box (1931), Ghost Stories (1932), A Ghostly Company (1935), The Clock Strikes Twelve: Tales of the Supernatural (1940), and Strayers from Sheol (1961).

Wakefield's atmospheric and darkly brooding work in the field has been frequently compared to M.R. James. Many critics consider him one of the great masters of the supernatural horror tale. August Derleth called him "the last major representative of a ghost story tradition that began with Sheridan Le Fanu and reached its peak with Montague Rhodes James." John Betjeman noted "M.R. James is the greatest master of the ghost story. Henry James, Sheridan Le Fanu and H. Russell Wakefield are equal seconds."

In 1946, Arkham House issued an expanded version of The Clock Strikes Twelve for the U.S. market; they were also the publishers of Wakefield's final book, Strayers from Sheol. In 1978, John Murray published The Best Ghost Stories Of H. Russell Wakefield, edited by Richard Dalby, which spanned Wakefield's career and featured some previously uncollected tales. His earliest ghost story collections were also reprinted in the 1990's by Ash-Tree Press in limited editions that quickly went out of print. A book of previously unpublished stories, Reunion at Dawn: And Other Uncollected Ghost Stories, appeared in 2000.

Wakefield is best known for his ghost stories, but he produced work outside the field. He was greatly interested in the criminal mind and wrote two non-fiction criminology studies, The Green Bicycle Case (1930) and Landru: The French Bluebeard (1936). He also wrote three detective novels, Hearken to the Evidence (1933), Belt of Suspicion (1936), and Hostess of Death (1938).
- Doc, March 2007