Spooky! Scottish Stories

It’s very nearly Hallowe’en! Why not get yourself in the mood by curling up and reading a good horror story!  Here is a list of 5 haunting tales from some of the greatest Scottish writers.

  1.  The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner- James Hogg

Not necessarily a “horror story” as such, it’s been described often as part Gothic novel, part satire, part psychological thriller. It’s a tale of the supernatural, murder, mystery and (possible) dealings with the Devil! The story is told in 3 parts, the first goes through the story from an outsider’s perspective, the last part discusses the strange acquisition of these memoirs by the editor and the main bulk of the novel is from the perspective of a young man named Robert – a Calvinist who is persuaded into murder by the strange Gil-Martin, a figure who uses Robert’s religious belief in predestination to justify their terrible actions. It has been cited as the main inspiration for the following.

  1. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

One of the great classics from one of Scotland’s most celebrated authors. Another tale of murder, mystery and strange characters changing shape!   This little novella from R L Stevenson is one of the most adapted stories ever told and it’s based on a true story! William Brodie (most commonly known by his title Deacon Brodie) was a highly respected man – a deacon of the trades guild, an Edinburgh city councillor and the head of the craft of cabinet-making (obviously a ‘thing’ back in his day). He was also a prolific thief.   Using his day job to gain access to people’s homes, he would makes copies of the keys from wax impressions and come back later to break into his affluent customer’s homes. For all of his crimes he was hanged on the gallows he was said to have designed himself on the 1st October 1788. The tale of Deacon Brodie, as well as the influence of Hogg, inspired Stevenson’s famous tale. One of my favourite movie iterations of this story would be “I, Monster” starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Naturally.


  1. Tam O’Shanter – Robert Burns

Another great classic – this poem by The Bard tells the tale of a drunken Tam and what happens when you catcall witches. It can be read here complete with an English translation for the non-natives.

  1. “The Tapestried Chamber” from The Keepsake Stories – Sir Walter Scott

A curious and odd tale from another one of our most, if not the-most, celebrated writers, Sir Walter Scott, about a man who does not seem to like his house guests all that much!   You can read it here.

  1. Tales of Terror – Arthur Conan Doyle

A collection of excellent short stories from Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for being the author of the Sherlock Holmes series. Less well known about Doyle was he was a keen spiritualist and occultist, and attended several séances in his time. Whilst these stories do not involve his most famous protagonist, they are still tales full of shocks and surprises. You can browse and read the collection here.



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