© 2020

The Haunted House in Women’s Ghost Stories

Gender, Space and Modernity, 1850–1945


Part of the Palgrave Gothic book series (PAGO)

About this book


This book explores Victorian and modernist haunted houses in female-authored ghost stories as representations of the architectural uncanny. It reconsiders the gendering of the supernatural in terms of unease, denial, disorientation, confinement and claustrophobia within domestic space. Drawing on spatial theory by Gaston Bachelard, Henri Lefebvre and Elizabeth Grosz, it analyses the reoccupation and appropriation of space by ghosts, women and servants as a means of addressing the opposition between the past and modernity. The chapters consider a range of haunted spaces, including ancestral mansions, ghostly gardens, suburban villas, Italian churches and houses subject to demolition and ruin. The ghost stories are read in the light of women’s non-fictional writing on architecture, travel, interior design, sacred space, technology, the ideal home and the servant problem. Women writers discussed include Elizabeth Gaskell, Margaret Oliphant, Vernon Lee, Edith Wharton, May Sinclair and Elizabeth Bowen. This book will appeal to students and researchers in the ghost story, Female Gothic and Victorian and modernist women’s writing, as well as general readers with an interest in the supernatural.


Ghosts Female Gothic Haunting Space Domesticity

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Manchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK

About the authors

Emma Liggins is Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has previously published Odd Women? Spinsters, Lesbians and Widows in British Women’s Fiction, 1850s-1930s (2014), as well as articles and chapters on Vernon Lee, Mary Elizabeth Braddon and modernist ghost stories.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Haunted House in Women’s Ghost Stories
  • Book Subtitle Gender, Space and Modernity, 1850–1945
  • Authors Emma Liggins
  • Series Title Palgrave Gothic
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Gothic
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Literature, Cultural and Media Studies Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-40751-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-40754-4
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-40752-0
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIII, 307
  • Number of Illustrations 1 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Culture and Gender
    Gothic Fiction
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Drawing on recent scholarship as well as established traditions of thinking about the ghost story, Emma Liggins’ book constitutes a very useful contribution to an emerging critical field.  The argument explores ideas about space and identity, referring to thinkers like Bachelard and Irigaray, in especially interesting new ways. The book is lucid and articulate throughout and will be a useful resource for teaching.” (Dr Luke A. Thurston, Senior Lecturer in Modern Literature, Aberystwyth University)

“Emma Liggins takes us on a rich tour of the haunted houses and gardens of Victorian and modernist women’s writing. Bringing together female-authored short Gothic fiction and non-fiction including country house studies, art criticism and advice manuals, this carefully researched book reveals how female authors used spatial tropes to articulate their profound sense of unease about domesticity. The study’s chronological span from the mid-nineteenth century to the Second World War charts the development of a shared spatial thematic in female-authored Gothic fiction while foregrounding the ruptures of modernity.” (Dr Minna Vuohelainen, City, University of London)