The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

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I read this ghostly tale in one sitting and have really been impressed with it. It’s a good story, and despite being a little dragged out, it does make you want to read more and get to the bottom of things!

Hill wanted to write a ghost story but not in its conventional form as a short story, but as a novella.
She does this successfully and clearly it has become something of a classic, but when it really boils down to it you could tell the actual bare bones of the story in about 5 minutes.

Arthur Kipps is a solicitor who is reflecting on the past horrors of an experience in his youth which still haunts him. As a way of laying the ghosts to rest he decides to write his story down.
In this story, Kipps is just starting his career and is sent to the funeral of Mrs Drablow, a strange woman who lived in an isolated house.

It has all the trappings of a piece of Gothic literature – the isolated house, the moody weather, the fainting hero or heroine, the terrifying monster…

I won’t tell you more because that might spoil the story. I personally haven’t seen the film but I gather it’s very scary and the play is meant to be fantastic.

Over here in the UK this is a text that is on the curriculum list for GCSE and I was impressed with it as one that was more engaging for young readers. You can do really fun stuff with looking at the genre of horror and gothic literature and I have been really enjoying it with my year nine class!

Have you taught this as a novel before? Do you think it was worth Hill writing it as a novel or should she have kept it as a short story?

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