A Ghostly Company was formed in 2004 (taking its name from the classic 1932 ghost story collection by H. R. Wakefield) to provide opportunities for like-minded enthusiasts to meet at appropriate locations around the country. Previously, the Ghost Story Society and Ghosts and Scholars had organised conventions in Chester and Rochester but had then decided to devote their energies entirely to publishing... leaving a gap in the supernatural market. Our pioneer members had already been involved in two important M. R. James celebrations, namely the restoration of his grave in Eton Town Cemetery and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque in St. Peter's Church, Great Livermere, so establishing a new society was but small beer for them!
We are an informal, non-profit-making literary society devoted to the study of the ghost story in all its forms although preference is given to the traditional and time-honoured fiction of the great nineteenth and twentieth century authors. M. R. James, Walter de la Mare, E. F. Benson and A. M. Burrage are just a few names from that era but we do not exclude modern and contemporary writers, several of whom are members ("companions") of A Ghostly Company. The first gathering (or "Black Pilgrimage," taken from Count Magnus by M. R. James) was held in October 2005 in Great Malvern, Worcestershire and many other places have been visited since that occasion (see "Events" page). Any companion can plan an event in his or her local area and extend invitations to the rest of the membership via email and/or the newsletter. An obligatory AGM is held during one Black Pilgrimage each year but we are hedonist enough to place pleasure before business and the latter erodes the former only briefly! Apart from visits to place of interest, we have had book sales, quizzes and film shows with ample opportunity to fill the inner person.
The society produces a quarterly, non-fiction newsletter containing articles, letters and book reviews (amongst other things) and although companions are encouraged to contribute freely, this is not a condition of membership... unfortunately! The society's annual fiction publication, The Silent Companion, contains new stories written by members, principally for members, although back copies can be purchased by others (see "Membership" page). To conform to true Dickensian tradition, the magazine appears as close to Christmas as possible and provides a platform for established authors as well as emerging writers who are keen to develop their skills in the genre.
So, if you enjoy a good ghost story, ancient or modern, and you want to share the pleasure, A Ghostly Company could be just the thing for you. Too quirky, old-fashioned, exclusive or irrelevant? An insignificant minority interest? An obscure literary cul-de-sac? Let the uninitiated worry about things like that... have courage, sign-up and join the minority!