The Hamlyn Book of Ghosts in Fact and Fiction by Daniel Farson (Hamlyn, 1978)

Hamlyn Ghosts 1978

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The Hamlyn Book of Ghosts in Fact and Fiction was the first in a four-volume series by UK publisher Hamlyn. The other volumes, which I’ll post about separately, are The Hamlyn Book of Horror (1979), The Hamlyn Book of Mysteries (1983), and The Hamlyn Book of Monsters (1984). All but one were written by Daniel Farson (Bernard Brett wrote The Hamlyn Book of Mysteries), and all featured spectacular wraparound cover art by Oliver “Zack” Frey.

The series was probably prompted by rival publisher Usborne’s The World of the Unknown series (see here and here), first published in 1977 and aimed directly at the paranormal-obsessed youth market, although Hamlyn had been dabbling in the subject for many years: of particular interest is 1971’s Witchcraft and Black Magic by Peter Haining, a well-written overview featuring surreal, nightmarish illustrations by Jan Parker.

Ghosts in Fact and Fiction is not quite as garishly illustrated as Usborne’s All About Ghosts, though Hamlyn would ramp up the intensity for The Hamlyn Book of Horror. Usborne responded in kind—or maybe it was simple coincidence—with their Supernatural Guides (1979), three of the most delightfully gruesome introductions to occult subjects ever published.

Writer Daniel Farson led quite the eccentric life. He started his career as a journalist and appeared on several groundbreaking, investigatory news programs in the 1950s and early 1960s. He abruptly quit television and left London in 1964 to become a full-time writer. His 27 books include biographies (including one on his great-uncle, Bram Stoker), several memoirs of bohemian Soho (of which he was a contributing rake), travelogues, and two horror novels. He also wrote a volume for Aldus Books’ A New Library of the Supernatural called Vampires, Zombies, and Monster Men (1976), and a volume for Smithmark’s Great Mysteries series, Mysterious Monsters (1980).

Special thanks to The Cobwebbed Room for an excellent entry on the Hamlyn series, including full artist credits and contents lists.

(Images via Flickr and Pinterest)

6 Responses to “<em>The Hamlyn Book of Ghosts in Fact and Fiction</em> by Daniel Farson (Hamlyn, 1978)”

  1. 1 mikemacdee February 8, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Definitely looking this book up on amazon.

  2. 2 Alan Toner January 13, 2017 at 12:21 am

    Looks a goodie. Can’t beat a bit of nostalgia book hunting.

  3. 3 mh November 27, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    still have this book – as a 7 year old it scared the bejeesus out of me!

  4. 4 John Smith December 2, 2018 at 7:05 am

    I thought I already left a comment here a year, or so ago, but it’s not here! I’ll try again…does anyone happen to know where I can view the whole contents of this book anywhere online? I want to find it, and buy it, but first make 100% sure it was the very same book I read as a child. I can only make sure if I can see the entire table of contents – all the stories, as well as see some more artistic illustrations from the book. Thank You. ; )

  5. 5 Tom Baker November 15, 2019 at 9:23 am

    When this was originally released, was it released as a HARDBACK, PAPERBACK, OR BOTH?

    I’ve been looking to buy a copy of it online, but the seller only claims to have it in paperback – Which is news to me, as I thought it was a hardback only.

  1. 1 The Hamlyn Book of Horror by Daniel Farson (Hamlyn, 1979) | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on February 11, 2016 at 3:19 pm

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