The Woman in Black

Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral Mrs Alice Drablow, the house’s sole inhabitant of Eel Marsh House, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows.

The house stands at the end of a causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but it is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black – and her terrible purpose.

‘I did not believe in ghosts’

Few attend Mrs Alice Drablow’s funeral, and not one blood relative amongst them. There are undertakers with shovels, of course, a local official who would rather be anywhere else, and one Mr Arthur Kipps, solicitor from London. He is to spend the night in Eel Marsh House, the place where the old recluse died amidst a sinking swamp, a blinding fog and a baleful mystery about which the townsfolk refuse to speak.

Young Mr Kipps expects a boring evening alone sorting out paperwork and searching for Mrs Drablow’s will. But when the high tide pens him in, what he finds – or rather what finds him – is something else entirely.

BACKSTORY: Discover some more classic ghost stories and some real-life ones too…

Book Details

  • Publication Date: 35954
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 208
  • Author: Susan Hill


  • Attention to Detail9/10
  • Writing Style8/10
  • Good entertainment factor10/10
  • Value9/10
  • Readability9/10
  • 9/10


    A few weeks ago, The Woman in Black was read, in half-hour instalments over the course of a several midnights, on BBC Digital Radio 7. I was hooked and didn't even investigate what I might be missing on the telly. As soon the reading was completed, I bought the book and was surprised to discover how modern it is - first published in 1983. It's like a real, traditional English ghost story - the sort that taps into our deepest fears, challenges our rational beliefs and engages our imagination. It's a story of tragedy, impotent rage, insane hatred and terrible revenge for past injustices wreaked upon innocent by-standers in the present. The haunted landscape, changing from bright sunshine to impenetrable fog, the raging storms, the isolation of the dismal house, the build-up of tension and anxiety and the slow breakdown of disbelief in a darker reality are described so well, that we can easily share in the terror.


Susan Hill's novels and short stories have won the Whitbread, Somerset Maugham and John Llewellyn Rhys awards and been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her books are set texts for GCSEs and A-levels. A Kind Man belongs to a genre that she has made her own: literary novellas which are short yet punchy, full of menace and feeling, and which include the critically acclaimed The Beacon and bestselling ghost stories The Woman in Black, The Man in the Picture and The Small Hand. She is also author of the Simon Serrailler crime series, and recently published a bestselling memoir of reading, Howard's End is on the Landing. Susan Hill lives in Gloucestershire, where she runs her own small publishing firm, Long Barn Books.

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