Short Fiction

The Old Nurse's Story

Written on invitation by Charles Dickens, who was a fan of her work, Elizabeth Gaskell’s “The Old Nurse’s Story” was published in 1852 during England’s Victorian era. The setup is classic: an elderly caregiver gathers her charges to tell them a spooky story about their mother’s childhood—and to teach them a moral lesson. This story hits all the marks of a classic ghost story: an isolated manor, creepy music sounding from a disused organ, ghostly apparitions begging to be let inside. Despite all the hallmarks of a ghost story, the true horror of the story is in the very real, all-too-capable cruelty people and in their inability to right the wrongs of the past, showing readers how ghosts are not the only beings capable of creating terror.

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