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Top 5 spine-tingling tales from the UK

By GREAT HQ


As the nights grow dark and Halloween is upon us, what better way to get in the spooky mood than to curl up with a tale from some of our best-loved UK authors. Prepare to get spooked as we explore the writers, characters, and locations linked to some of the UK’s best-loved literary works…


1) Mary Shelley,Frankenstein, 1818

Dreamt up on a dark and stormy night in Switzerland in the summer of 1816, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often celebrated as the classic gothic horror novel. While the story, too, is largely set in Switzerland, it is in fact the city of Bath in Somerset, England where Shelley penned much of the tale of Victor Frankenstein and his unorthodox experiments.

Plans for the UK’s first Frankenstein museum were approved this year, to celebrate Shelley’s life, work, and the time she spent living in the city’s Abbey Churchyard – a suitably spooky location!

2) Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897

Since it was first published in the late 19th century, Bram Stoker’s Draculahas inspired countless tales of deadly beings who feast on the blood of their victims. It was the coastal town of Whitby that provided much of the inspiration for Stoker’s classic gothic novel. In 1890, Stoker spent the summer in the town, taking in the eerie ruins of Whitby Abbey and the dramatic North Yorkshire coastline where Count Dracula first arrives in England, in the form of a large black dog. It was even in a book in Whitby’s library that Stoker found inspiration for the name for the infamous Count.

3) Arthur Conan Doyle,The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1901

Hailing from the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, Arthur Conan Doyle is known the world over as the creator of the legendary Sherlock Holmes and his loyal sidekick, John Watson. It was in one of his lecturers at Edinburgh University, Dr Joseph Bell, that Conan Doyle found the inspiration for his sharp-witted detective.

While Holmes and Watson faced all manner of strange mysteries, arguably their darkest adventure took them to the rugged moorlands of Dartmoor in Devon, where a monstrous supernatural hound is still said to roam.

4) C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 1950

Belfast-born C.S. Lewis created some of the most iconic characters in British children’s literature. From the  faun Mr Tumnus to the majestic King of Beasts Aslan himself, the inhabitants of the magical world of Narnia have been captured in bronze form in Belfast’s C.S. Lewis Square. The scariest of all his creations, though, is doubtlessly Jadis, the White Witch, who turns all those who dare to defy her to ice…

The White Witch captured in bronze (not ice…) in Belfast’s C.S. Lewis Square. Photo: Courtesy of Bradley Quinn

5) Roald Dahl,The Witches, 1983

Cardiff-born Roald Dahl’s terrifying tale The Witches tells the story of a brave young boy and his Norwegian grandmother, and their quest to defeat a coven of child-hating witches. Some of the story’s most haunting scenes take place at the grand Hotel Excelsior, where the witches gather to hatch their plans for ridding the world of all children.

In the 1990 film, The Headland Hotel in Newquay, Cornwall was used as the setting for the witches’ convention, offering a perfect backdrop for Dahl’s classic – which is still widely seen as one of the scariest children’s books ever written!

Roald Dahl's scariest children's book, The Witches

Why not check out some of the most haunted spots in the UK this autumn– or get planning for next year! And for even more inspiration, take a look at Visit Britain’s interactive map of haunted Britain.