the Violet
The Haunted Woman

Are we dreaming now, or were we dreaming before?

The Haunted Woman, ch. XVI, “The Musician Departs”

Some commentators claim The Haunted Woman’s earthbound setting was the result of A Voyage to Arcturus’ poor sales, but Lindsay began writing his second novel before the first was released. Finishing it in April 1921, it was declined by Methuen, but Lindsay managed to land it as a serial in The Daily News (subject to the removal of 20,000 words). E H Visiak recalls his first encounter with Lindsay’s novel in the paper’s pages:

I had come, in the story, to the “haunted rooms”. But I had, as it happened, an urgent appointment. I couldn’t go on reading in the house, so I did so in the street, the tautly outstretched Daily News hurrying me on before the wind.

— E H Visiak, “Discovering a Genius” in The Strange Genius of David Lindsay, p. 95

Following the Daily News publication (which you can read more about here), Methuen reconsidered in October 1921 and published The Haunted Woman in February the following year. The book carried the dedication “To my wife”.

Times ad
Ad from The Times announcing The Haunted Woman, 10th February 1922

Unfulfilled young Isbel Loment is companion to a wealthy spinster aunt. Their lives consist of an endless tour of hotels. In search of a place to settle her aunt, so she herself can be free to marry her fiancé, Isbel visits the house of an older man, Judge, which comes complete with rumours of a ghostly staircase that appears only at certain times, or to certain people. Isbel sees the staircase and ascends it to a region of the house where her perceptions of herself, and others, alter, with profound consequences for her everday life.

More detailed plot summary here.


See the Haunted Woman editions page for a list, and the audiobooks page for audiobook editions.

I have produced an Annotated Edition of The Haunted Woman, in hardback, paperback, and ebook. You can read about it here.

See the Haunted Woman gallery page for cover artwork.

Adaptations & works inspired by The Haunted Woman

2011/2012 — Serialisation on Brighton & Hove Community Radio. Read by Janina Karpinska and edited by Alan J Cannon. Available at part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, & 11.

2017 — LibriVox audiobook, read by Phil Benson.

The Haunted Woman cover design
Floral design on the cover of the first edition of The Haunted Woman