Blind Man’s Buff by Herbert Russell Wakefield
H R Wakefield was born in 1888 in Sandgate, Kent, England and died 1964. He was the son of the Bishop of Birmingham. He was educated at the prestigious Marlborough College and then went to Oxford University where he studied history and played cricket, golf, hockey and football. He was secretary to Viscount Northcliffe and served with the Royal Scots Fusiliers when the First World War broke out and was promoted to Captain. After 1920 he settled in London and worked as chief editor in a publishing house.
His wife was American, Barbara Standish Waldo, and he met her when she was in London as her family were wealthy and took a house in London each year for the season. He divorced her in 1936 and married again in 1946. Older now, during the Second World War he served as an air-raid warden.
H R’s brother Gilbert was a successful playwright.
Wakefield was famous for his ghost stories during his life. He published seven volumes of ghost stories during his life. His work was appreciated by August Derleth, H P Lovecraft’s disciple and some of his stories were published in Weird Tales. His main influences were M R James and Algernon Blackwood (both of whom we have featured on the podcast.)
The poet laureate John Betjeman considered Wakefield in the second rank of ghost story writers after M R James, which was praise indeed. However, M R James wasn’t as fond of Wakefield’s work. H P Lovecraft on the other hand showered Wakefield in praise and said he reached the heights of horror.
Wakefield strongly believed in the paranormal, and it is perhaps because of this he was drawn to write in this field. He claimed to have had personal experiences of supernatural phenomena.
This story, Blind Man’s Buff, plays on the primal fear of the dark and what might lurk within. In that play on phobia it struck me that it was similar to Marghatina Laski’s The Tower, which we read as Episode 13
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