Episode 21 Christmas Eve on a Haunted Hulk by Frank Cowper

Christmas Eve on a haunted hulk by Frank Cowper

Frank Cowper  was born in 1849 and died in 1930. He was an English yachtsman primarily famous for his pioneering work in developing the whole business of modern cruising. He was primarily a sailor but gained fame with his book /Sailing Tours/ which described his voyages in his yachts.

He clearly also was an accomplished writer  as we see it in this story /Christmas Eve on A Haunted Hulk/ has a very realistic style. The vividness of the description of his foray  through the marshes shows he was very familiar with this kind of terrain.

One incidental gem of this story is the picture he gives of the provincial life of educated gentlefolk amongst the Victorian peasantry. I have no doubt that this was drawn from Frank Cowper’s actual experience. I suspect that the being stuck under his bed after falling out in the night is also an actual incident from his life.

I read this particular story as part of my series of Christmas themed ghost stories leading up to Christmas this year. I have done /The Snow/ by Hugh Walpole and I anticipate doing a couple more Christmas stories before tackling Charles Dickens is /A Christmas Carol/. However there is many a slip twixt cup and lip and it may be that I do not get round to reading a Christmas Carol as I have rather a busy schedule between now and the winter festival itself.

I am sitting alone here editing this audio file and trying to get it done before bed. I hope then you will forgive that I am not going to spend a lot of time talking about this story.

In some ways it has elements similar to last week’s story /The Kitbag/ by Algernon Blackwood. In both tales, we have the sensory description of something going on that frightens yet does not actually touch the protagonist. Frank Cowper’s description of the cold and damp of the abandoned hulk was very convincing. The only other point I want to make is that it is not particularly Christmassy in tone. For one thing there is no snow! However this dreary cold rainy weather is far more characteristic of an English Christmas than the picture postcard snowman and Santa Claus we would like to believe in.

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