John Pelan's Horror Core List


As part of a ongoing series of articles in Cemetery Dance magazine, writer/editor John Pelan is in the process of presenting a list of 100 "core titles" for collectors to pursue in building a modestly-priced but nicely representative horror collection. The criteria are that the books must be hardcover, contain material primarily from the period 1900-1973, be available for $50 or less on the used book market, and each author may only be represented by one title. John has been kind enough to allow us to present the (near) complete list online.

 1. Aickman, Robert - Night Voices: Strange Stories: Victor Gollancz 1985.

 2. Aiken, Joan - The Green Flash: 1971.

 3. Amis, Kingsley - The Green Man: NY: Harcourt Brace World 1970.

 4. Andreyev, Leonid - Visions: NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1987.

 5. Beaumont, Charles - Selected Stories: Dark Harvest Press 1988.

 6. Benson, A.C. & R.H. - Ghosts in the House: Chester: Ash-Tree 1996.

 7. Benson, E.F. - Spook Stories: London: Hutchinson 1928.

 8. Birkin, Charles - A Haunting Beauty: Midnight House 2000.

 9. Blackwood, Algernon - The Tales of Algernon Blackwood

10. Blatty, William Peter - The Exorcist: Harper & Row.

11. Bloch, Robert - The Early Fears: Fedogan & Bremer 1995.

12. Bond, Nelson - Nightmares and Daydreams: Arkham House 1968.

13. Bowen, Elizabeth - The Complete Stories

14. Bowen, Majorie - Kecksies & other Twilight Tales: Arkham House 1976.

15. Brennan, Joseph Payne - Stories of Darkness & Dread: Arkham House 1973.

16. Broster, D.K. - Couching at the Door: Ash-Tree Press 2000

17. Buchan, John - The Supernatural Stories of John Buchan

18. Buchanan, Marie - Anima: St. Martins 1972.

19. Burke, Thomas - (WATCH FOR NEWS)

20. Burrage, A.M. - Intruders: New Weird Tales: Ash-Tree Press 1995.

21. Campbell, Ramsey - Demons by Daylight: Arkham House 1973.

22. Capes, Bernard - The Black Reaper: Ash-Tree Press 1998.

23. Cave, Hugh B. - Death Stalks the Night: Fedogan & Bremer 1995.

24. Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness

25. Cowles, Frederick - The Night Wind Howls: Ash-Tree Press 1999.

26. Crawford, F. Marion - Uncanny Tales: Tartarus Press 1999.

27. Cross, John Keir - The Other Passenger: J.B. Lippincott 1946.

28. Dahl, Roald - The Roald Dahl Omnibus: Dorset 1986.

29. De la Mare, Walter - The Ghost Stories of Walter de la Mare: The Folio Society

30. Dinesen, Isak - Seven Gothic Tales

31. Dickinson, William Croft - Dark Encounters: Goodchild 1984.

32. Du Maurier, Daphne - Echoes from the Macabre: Doubleday 1977.

33. Ewers, Hanns Heinz - (WATCH FOR NEWS)

34. Grabinski, Stefan - (WATCH FOR NEWS)

35. Hartley, L.P. - The Complete Short Stories of L.P. Hartley: Beaufort.

36. Harvey, William Fryer - (WATCH FOR NEWS)

37. Hearn, Lafcadio - Selected Writings of Lafcadio Hearn: Citadel 1949.

38. Hodgson, William Hope - The Night Land: Hyperion 1976.

39. Howard, Robert E. - The Skullface Omnibus: Neville Spearman 1974.

40. Household, Geoffrey - The Dance of the Dwarfs: Little-Brown 1968.

41. Hubbard, L. Ron - Fear: Bridge Publications 1990.

42. Jackson, Shirley - Just an Ordinary Day: Bantam 1997.

43. Jacobi, Carl - Revelations in Black: London: Neville Spearman 1974.

44. James, M.R. - The Ghost Stories of M.R. James: Wordsworth

45. Laing, Alexander - The Cadaver of Gideon Wyck

46. Laski, Marghanita - The Victorian Chaise-Lounge: Houghton-Mifflin 1954.

47. Lautremont, - Maldoror: Crowell 1972.

48. Lawrence, Margery - Nights of the Round Table: Ash-Tree Press

49. Lee, Vernon - The Snake Lady & Other Stories: Peter Owen 1987.

50. Leiber, Fritz - Night's Black Agents: London: Neville Spearman 1975.

51. Level, Maurice - (WATCH FOR NEWS)

52. Levin, Ira - Three by Ira Levin: NY: Random House 1992.

53. Long, Frank Belknap - The Early Long: NY: Doubleday 1977.

54. Lovecraft, H. P. - The Dunwich Horror: Arkham House

55. Machen, Arthur - Tales of Horror & the Supernatural: Tartarus Press 1997.

56. Marasco, Robert - Burnt Offerings: NY: Delacorte 1973.

57. Metcalfe, John - Nightmare Jack & Other Stories: Ash-Tree Press 1998.

58. Michaels, Barbara - Dark Duet: Congdon & Weed 1983.

59. Mirbeau, Octave - Torture Garden: NY: Citadel 1949.

60. Muspratt, Rosalie - (WATCH FOR NEWS)

61. Oboler, Arch - House on Fire: Bartholomew House 1969.

62. O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find: NY: HBJ 1992.

63. Onions, Oliver - Widdershins: Arno 1976.

64. Owen, Frank - The Wind that Tramps the World

65. Pemberton, Clive - The Weird O' It: Midnight House 2000.

66. Ray, Jean - My Own Private Spectres: Midnight House 1999.

67. Robbins, Tod (WATCH FOR NEWS)

68. Rolt, L.T.C. - Sleep No More: Ash-Tree 1995.

69. Shiel, M.P. - Xelucha and Others: Arkham House 1975.

70. Smith, Clark Ashton - A Rendevous in Averoigne: Arkham House 1988.

71. Snow, Jack - Dark Music & other Spectral Tales: Herald 1947.

72. Thorndike, Russell - Master of the Macabre: London: Rich & Cowan 1947.

73. Tryon, Thomas - Harvest Home: Knopf 1971.

74. Viereck, George Sylvester - The House of the Vampire: Arno 1977.

75. Wakefield, H.R. - Best Ghost Stories of H. Russell Wakefield: London: John Murray 1978.

76. Walpole, Hugh - All Souls' Night: MacMillan 1933.

77. Wandrei, Donald - Don't Dream: Minneapolis: Fedogan & Bremer 1996.

78. Wandrei, Howard - Time Burial: Minneapolis: Fedogan & Bremer 1995.

79. Wharton, Edith - The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton: Constable 1973.

80. Wheatley, Dennis - Omnibus: Octopus 1977.

81. Whitten, Leslie - Progeny of the Adder: Crime Club 1965.

82. White, Edward Lucas - The House of the Nightmare: Midnight House 1999.

83. Whitehead, Henry S. - Jumbee: London: Neville Spearman 1975.

84. Williamson, Jack - Darker Than You Think: Fantasy Press 1948.

As these books will all be individually reviewed in my on-going column in Cemetery Dance, I've left some blank spots for new books that will appear in the next two years. Further, you'll have to read the column in CD to ascertain as to WHY a book is on the list. In many cases I'm opting for later printings, and in the case of a couple of titles the price would probably not get you a copy in dustjacket. Again, the criteria is that a hardcover of the book can found for under $50.00 and that the book (or content thereof) consists primarily of material written between 1900 -1973, also no author can appear on the list more than once (the idea is to build a representative cross-section). CAUTIONARY NOTE: Many Ash-Tree Press titles sell out quickly, and will not long be available at the prices listed here. There are NO Ghost Story Press titles listed for the simple reason that none fall under the price range cut off, although I recommend them highly! In some other instances where two comparable collections are available (ie. Marjorie Bowen, H.R. Wakefield, & E.F. Benson; I've listed the less-expensive alternative. Comments and additions are welcome at as are reports of "finds" from this list.

Some revisions and a guilty conscience at work... I've dropped a couple of titles due to the fact that significantly better collections are known to be in the works. Despite rumors that Old Earth Books will be releasing a complete stories of Robert Aickman, I've left NIGHT VOICES on the list as still providing a solid sampling of Aickman's work. I've removed Theodore Sturgeon's KILLDOZER as not being a truly great representation of his horror fiction. The more I look at my collection of Sturgeon, the more I come to realize that there really isn't a definitive collection of his horrific fiction. I almost put DOOR OF THE UNREAL back on the list after being fortunate enough to find a copy for $25.00, but I think that was more a lucky fluke than anything else...

Perhaps the biggest change is the elimination of anthologies. My reason for doing this is quite simple, there's enough quality anthologies to merit their own "wing". Further, there's an awful lot of duplication in many of the better ones. Viewing an anthology as a separate entity may give you an entirely different conclusion than if you look at it as part of a collection... For example, any of Derleth's Arkham House anthologies can be considered outstanding selections and "must haves" by readers with very few Arkham House books. Conversely, the Arkham House collector might look at the same volumes and come to the conclusion that he has all the stories in other volumes. Hugh Lamb's anthologies are an absolute delight, but the collector of Ash-Tree Press will find that they're in possession of the majority of the stories via the single-author collections offered by Ash-Tree... Anyway, we'll give the anthologies their own list and make space for some additional collections and novels...

John Pelan

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