Perhaps best known for two much-admired tales, the evocative ghost story ‘Whessoe’ and the grimly humorous horror tour-de-force ‘Curious Adventure of Mr Bond’, Nugent Barker (1888-1955) remains something of an enigma. Although rated highly by contemporaries: the 1929 edition of Edward J. O’Brien’s anthology The Best British Stories is dedicated to Barker: little is known of his life, and these twenty-one tales, first collected in 1950, are thought to represent the sum total of Barker’s literary output. As Douglas Anderson notes in his Foreword to this new edition of Written With My Left Hand, Barker ranks alongside fellow twentieth-century exponents of the strange story, Walter de la Mare and John Metcalfe. But what makes Barker unique as a writer is the originality and diversity of his imagination. The stories collected here range widely, from the Poe-esque Parisian sophistication of ‘The Strange Disappearance of Monsieur Charbo’, to the sly and strangely touching Sussex folk-wisdom of ‘Stanley Hutchinson’; from the dislocated, dreamlike horror of ‘One, Two, Buckle My Shoe’ to the idyllic, time-travelling nostalgia of ‘The Thorn’. These powerfully-written stories, long out of print, deserve to be much better known. They will be relished by all those who appreciate the very best classic supernatural literature. Published by Tartarus Press in a limited edition of 350 copies. Fine in fine dj.
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