The Willows


Algernon Blackwood

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Tonight, to kick off our fourth annual Spooky Sleep Stories series, we’ll read the opening to the novella “The Willows” written by Algernon Blackwood and first published in 1907. This year’s series of classic horror stories will air every Monday this October.

In this story, two friends are midway on a canoe trip down the River Danube. The natural environment, for example the river, sun and wind— is personified with powerful and ultimately threatening characteristics. Most ominous are the masses of dense willows along the river banks, which "moved of their own will as though alive."

This is one of Blackwood's best known works and has been influential on a number of later writers. Horror author H.P. Lovecraft considered it to be the finest supernatural tale in English literature. "The Willows" is an example of early modern horror and is connected within the literary tradition of weird fiction.