Great Retro Reads 2 – The Beaver Book of Horror
When I was about 10 years old in 1977 Her Majesty the Queen was celebrating her Silver Jubilee on the throne of England and a book entered my life and changed it forever; it introduced me to the world of horror, the paranormal and horror story telling. That book was The Beaver book of horror by Daniel Farson.
In the mid to late 1970’s I was a member of a book club at school which I believe was the Scholastic Book Club which appears to still be alive and well today at https://www.scholastic.co.uk/
Back in my day, in the 1970’s, Scholastic consisted not of a website but of a small booklet (which as I recall smelled strongly of printer’s ink) containing a number of books which could be chosen and for which my poor beleaguered parents had to pay.
On one occasion I picked several books and for some reason I chose The Beaver Book of Horror and my life was never quite the same again.
I was totally turned on by the world of literary horror.
The book contained an introduction which claimed:
“Daniel Farson leads a journey into the mysterious world of the unknown! Read the truth about ghosts, vampires and werewolves and monsters of all kinds, and meet your favourite characters. Frankenstein’s Monster, Count Dracula and Jekyll and Hyde are all here, as well as many others from real life and fiction. You can find out about horror stories and their writers, horror films and actors and horror spots of the world, and see how much you know about horror by trying the exciting quiz.
Daniel Farson is the son of the American writer Negley Farson and great-nephew of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula. A former journalist and T.V. personality, he is now a full-time writer of non-fiction and plays and authority on the case of Jack the Ripper.”
As well as promising an exciting read I had found a writer who uses the comma and the word ‘and’ more than I do!
The book made many promises and it delivered in spades. I read and reread the book so much it simply fell apart. Years later I managed to pick up a serviceable copy from Ebay for only a few pounds but a word of warning for anyone wishing to purchase a copy for themselves: the yellowing pages of this old book will fall out if you open the book too widely. Treat it with respect!
The book covers a wide ranging number of topics including:
Of ghosts and ghouls, Vampires. Werewolves, Horror stories, horror on stage and screen, almost human, your guide to horror and real horrors. Within it’s 200+ pages there is contained some great story telling which is more of a non-fiction reference book rather than your typical horror fiction. Some of the factual stories and information is quite entertaining and genuinely spooky in places.
I read this book at ten years old and read it again after reaching 50 with just as much fascination.
Well worth checking out and and entertaining read for anyone from nine to ninety years old.
Here’s information from the back cover (check out how much it sold for back then in 1977).
Book Blurb (from back cover)
A Beaver original from Hamlyn
Things that go ‘bump’ in the night are bad enough, but what about
VAMPIRES, who live off human blood?
WEREWOLVES, killed only by a silver bullet?
KILLER CATS, MONSTERS and ZOMBIES?
Are there such things?
Come into the world of the mysterious and the unknown and decide for yourself if you dare…
Cover illustration by Alan Lee
United Kingdom 60p
New Zealand $1.85
Product details (from Ebay)
Author(s): Daniel Farson
Publisher: Octopus Publishing Group
Date of Publication: 18/11/1977
Series Title: Beaver Books
eBay Product ID (ePID): 89219804
Place of Publication: London
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Out-of-print date: 18/10/2003
Content Note: Illustrations, ports.
Width: 120 mm
Height: 180 mm
© Colin Lawson Books