‘[H]ear the ghost!’: Spirits and deathly portents in the short stories of Thomas Richards

  • Rita Singer (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


On 1 November 1825, the quarterly journal The Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions, Manufactures, &c. published the first of two ‘Cambrian Sketches’ by an anonymous author under the title ‘The Spectre of Pont Vathew’. Set in Dyffryn Dysynni, the story takes place within living memory and relates the tragic murder of a young local woman. On the twentieth anniversary of her death, her restless spirit at last succeeds in taking vengeance by drowning the perpetrator in the shallow river during a torrential downpour. Whilst this story and the one published in the following number of the Repository were published anonymously, the location, themes and turns of phrases indicate Thomas Richards’s (1800-1877) authorship. Originally from Dolgellau, today Richards’s name is all but forgotten in the country of his birth, while in Australia he is esteemed as a contributor to the emergence of the Tasmanian short story. When he was only nine years of age, he was sent to a London boarding school after the death of his father, and never returned for more than short visits, but Wales and his ancestral bro forever haunted his short stories and antiquarian writings. Using internal evidence around ghostly hauntings and death portents from several of Richards’s published writings, this paper seeks to establish him as the author of this recent serendipitous find in a 240-year old magazine otherwise invested in fashion and decorative arts.
Period05 Nov 2022
Event titleHaunted Wales
Event typeConference
LocationNewtown, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • Wales
  • Romanticism
  • Gothic
  • Welsh writing in English
  • Thomas Richards
  • Short story
  • Hauntings
  • Folklore
  • Mental health