I had already read Richard Dalby's The Mammoth Book of Victorian and Edwardian Ghost Stories (The mammoth book series) which was quite good, so this collection seemed like a safe bet. He also collaborated with Rosemary Pardoe to produce one of my favorite collections of supernatural short stories, i.e. "Ghosts and Scholars."
The 31 stories in this collection are compiled from "The Virago Book of Ghost Stories: The Twentieth Century" (two volumes, 1987 & 1991) and "The Virago Book of Victorian Ghost Stories" (1988), all by some of the best-known female authors of the supernatural, including Edith Wharton, Rosemary Pardoe, Joan Aiken, and Charlotte Brontė. There are only a few really terrifying tales in this collection, although "The Book" by Margaret Irwin is one of my picks for Top 100 Ghost Stories. Pathos is the overriding emotion.
These are a few of my favorite stories in this collection:
"The Old Nurse's Story" by Mrs. Gaskell--Here's an old classic that all ghost story connoisseurs must read at least once. A young orphan and her loving nursemaid must go to live with a distant great-aunt in Northumberland. The five-year-old soon wins over her new relative and the staff of the once-grand mansion, but who is the little girl who keeps begging her to come out and play in the snowstorm?
"The Book" by Margaret Irwin--A book so evil that it corrupts all of its companions in the bookcase, including "The Old Curiosity Shop" and "Treasure Island." Soon it also holds sway over the owner of the bookcase.
"The Vacant Lot" by Mary E. Wilkins--After inheriting a substantial legacy, the Townsend family moves to an upscale address in Boston. They are amazed at how cheaply they were able to purchase their mansion--at least until a phantom starts hanging laundry in the vacant lot next-door.
"The Eyes" by Edith Wharton--A young man who has just offered up a proposal of marriage wakes up to find a pair of evil old eyes staring at him from the foot of his bed.
"The Haunted Saucepan" by Margery Lawrence--I guessed from the title that this story was going to be humorous, but I was wrong. Three grown men grow to fear a sauce pan that bubbles merrily away in the kitchen, even after the gas has been turned off.
"The Haunting of Shawley Rectory" by Ruth Rendell--Not everyone who lives in Shawley Rectory sees the ghosts. Those who do say a mother killed her daughter in the drawing room, but the skeptics outnumber them, and no one can find historical verification of the murder.
"The Mistress in Black" by Rosemary Timperly--The new English teacher keeps seeing her predecessor, who burned to death while trying to set fire to the school.