One of the most celebrated ghost stories of all time, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw is newly introduced by novelist and essayist Colm Tóibín, and beautifully illustrated by Audrey Benjaminsen for this superb Folio Society edition.
‘The story reeks of evil .... And it is wonderfully well written.’
It is Christmas Eve. A group of friends gathers by a roaring fire in an old country house, when one of their party promises a tale that: ‘Nobody but me, till now, has ever heard. It’s quite too horrible.’ Widely regarded as one of the greatest ghost stories of all time, The Turn of the Screw instantly grips the reader and doesn’t let go until the final chilling cliffhanger. Newly introduced by Colm Tóibín, whose writings on James are essential reading, our gorgeously foreboding collector’s edition is illustrated by renowned fantasy artist Audrey Benjaminsen, who plays on the dark heart of this disturbing and timeless tale with her ethereal and unsettling illustrations.
Integrated black & white decorations, chapter headings and tailpieces
8¾˝ x 5½˝
Colm Tóibín has had a lifelong fascination with Henry James and his writings on the subject, including the prize-winning novel, The Master, show remarkable insight into James’s work. In his exclusive introduction, Tóibín explores the background behind the story as well as James's ability to create abject horror from inference. Our edition also includes James’s own preface to the book, while his dark atmospheric tale is visualised by American multi-media artist Audrey Benjaminsen. The artist lends her fantastical, dream-inspired genius to six beautiful paintings that further contort James’s ambiguous reality and disorientate the reader.
‘Just as she is lured into seeing the ghosts, we are lured into following her.’
Colm Tóibín, from his Introduction
When a young governess is hired to care for two orphaned children in a country house, she becomes convinced that there is an evil force in residence, intent on harming her charges. As the menacing presence intensifies so does her paranoia, and she is consumed with fear and obsessed with the children’s safety. But is evil really at work or is it all in her mind? The terror is partly down to the uncertainty: are the happenings proof that ghosts live among us, or the terrible consequence of an unstable mind? These equally unsettling conclusions do little to assuage an active imagination and James’s eerie novel remains widely read and critiqued more than 100 years after publication. After all, if the author himself was spooked when reading the proofs of his book, what hope for the reader? ‘When I had finished them I was so frightened that I was afraid to go upstairs to bed!’
Henry James (1843–1916) is widely regarded as one of the greatest novelists in English of all time. In books such as The Portrait of a Lady and The Ambassadors he explored the clash between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ cultures of Europe and the United States, often through the figure of an American emigrant. As well as the major novels with their extraordinary richness and ambiguity, James wrote stories, novellas and plays, travel books including Italian Hours and The American Scene, and cornerstone works of literary criticism such as The Art of Fiction. James was born in New York; from 1876 he settled in London and from 1897 in Rye, East Sussex, but he continued to visit America. His unique transatlantic perspective and subtle understanding of human character mean that he has long been recognised as a master, and his most famous works – notably The Turn of the Screw – have often been adapted for film, theatre, radio and TV.
Colm Tóibín is an Irish novelist and essayist. His novel The Master (2004) imagined several years in the life of Henry James; it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Los Angeles Times Novel of the Year Award and the International Dublin Literary Award, among other prizes. Tóibín is originally from County Wexford and was educated in Dublin. Immediately after graduating he left Ireland for Barcelona and his early books were inspired by his time in Spain; later he returned to Dublin and worked as a journalist. In novels such as The Blackwater Lightship and The Story of the Night he explored questions of Irishness, exile and gay identity. His more recent fiction, with historical settings, includes Brooklyn, which won the Costa Novel Award. Tóibín is Irene and Sidney B. Silverman professor of the humanities at Columbia University in New York and chancellor of the University of Liverpool.
Audrey Benjaminsen is an illustrator and designer based in Metro Detroit, Michigan. She received a BFA in Illustration from Sarasota Florida’s Ringling College of Art and Design in 2015. Audrey finds inspiration in both the beautiful and the beastly and looks for character around every corner. She has completed commissions for Roof Studio, Simon & Schuster, Night Shade Books, Fantasy Flight Games, Passion Pictures, Lateral Branding and Hasboro.