The Outcast and The Rite

Helen de Guerry Simpson


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Handheld Press
10 May 2022
ISBN: 9781912766604

From the publisher

The Australian novelist and playwright Helen de Guerry Simpson (1897-1940) published many supernatural short stories. This new edition selects the best of her unsettling writing, adding some little-known stories to her 1925 collection The Baseless Fabric.

Featured stories include:
‘An Experiment of the Dead’, in which a visitor comes to visit a woman in the condemned cell.
‘Good Company’, in which a traveller in Italy becomes temporarily possessed by a hitchhiker in her mind.
‘Grey Sand and White Sand’ is the horrifying story of a demented landscape artist who paints what only he can see.
‘The Outcast’, in which a soldier left for dead in the War takes his revenge on his village.
‘The Rite’, in which a discontented woman enters a wood, and emerges transformed.

Helen de Guerry Simpson was born in Sydney, New South Wales, in 1897, and studied at Oxford. Her novel Boomerang won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for 1932. She died from cancer in 1940. Her close friend, the novelist Margaret Kennedy, took charge of Simpson’s daughter Clemence during the war while Simpson was in her last illness. Clemence and Simpson both feature in Kennedy’s wartime memoir, Where Stands A Winged Sentry, also published by Handheld Press.

The Introduction is by Melissa Edmundson, the leading scholar of women’s Weird fiction and supernatural writing from the early 20th century.

’13 supernatural stories that showcase Simpson’s lush, painterly descriptions of the natural world and her subtle, deeply intuitive sense of human relationships … Simpson wonderfully contrasts the wild and the domestic, and her greatest strength lies in her ability to build a sense of rustic normalcy before letting a slice of the unusual disturb the course of life. Fans of Daphne du Maurier and early 20th-century supernatural fiction will love this forgotten treasure.’ – Publishers Weekly