Daisy Butcher, a member of OGOM and PhD student of Dr Sam George, has collaborated with friend of OGOM and University of Hertfordshire alumna, Janette Leaf to put together an exciting anthology of insect themed stories for the British Library’s well-known ‘Tales of the Weird’ series. The creation of this book is indebted to the Open Graves, Open Minds Project as Daisy and Janette met at their Company of Wolves conference in 2015 and then had the idea to work together on an insect collection at their Polidori Symposium in 2019. With Daisy’s experience putting together a previous collection on killer plants called Evil Roots: Killer Tales of the Botanical Gothic (British Library, 2018) and Janette’s expertise in Insect Gothic, they have thoroughly enjoyed working together throughout lockdown. The anthology encompasses many genres and writers from Victorian Gothic to science-fiction on the subject of insects. Their overlapping interest in Egyptian Gothic and mummy curse tales from their PhD research proved fruitful for the collection as there are four Egyptian themed insect stories in the book. As well as bringing these stories they knew from their PhD research, Daisy and Janette both trawled through archives of old Victorian literary magazines and pulp science-fiction to find lesser-known authors and tales. Daisy and Janette co-authored the introduction and headnotes for the collection, touching on what the ‘Insect Weird’ means to them, where the irrational fear of insects comes from, biographical information about the authors, and the key themes throughout. In line with the Open Graves, Open Minds ethos, they were also keen to feature positive examples of literary insects. While they wanted to allow people to get a good scare off these creepy crawlies, indulging their entomophobic tendencies in a safe space, they also wanted to make people aware of this unfair prejudice against insects. In this collection, some insects aren’t as monstrous as they appear, some do the bidding of others, some are only doing what is natural for an animal to do, some give gifts, and some even save lives.
You can catch Daisy and Janette talking about the book at various events this Halloween including:
- Radio Verulam ‘Local Life’ show on catch up or as an extended podcast on https://radioverulam.com/
- A special, in-person event at Books on the Hill, St Albans ‘In Conversation with Daisy Butcher and Janette Leaf’ – tickets and more information at: https://www.books-on-the-hill.co.uk/events/in-conversation-with-daisy-butcher-and-janette-leaf
- More podcasts and Hertfordshire bookshop events in the pipeline. Information will be shared once finalised.
Here are more details of the book and how to order it on the British Library page: