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Liz F

Haven't read either Poe or Poppy but funnily enough I bought a Poe novella in a library sale at the weekend although it's The murders in the Rue Morgue.
With regard to the Poe story, I remember reading about a woman in 17th century England who was so afraid of being buried alive that she left instructions that her coffin had to be left above ground for quite a while following her funeral to make sure that it didn't happen to her. Not quite the same thing as the bell in the coffin, or as potentially creepy - but on the same lines.


Bookman is a Poppy Brite fan. I prefer Poe :) House of Usher is a good one, isn't it? I remember watching the old movie of it with Vincent Price when I was a kid, one of those things that played Saturday afternoons when not much else was on TV.

John Edwards

"Were there ever truly occasions where someone was buried but a string was in some way rigged to the inside of the casket and attached to a bell above ground, which could be rung if the deceased was not really deceased but buried alive?"

Yes, for a while in Georgian snd Victorian England it was quite popular, especially during cholera epidemics. The string was attached to the person's little finger and fed through the coffin roof. People were then paid to wait by the grave for days or weeks. Sometimes it was the deceased fear of being buried alive and sometimes it was the widow(er)'s wish that the bell be set up.

Poe also wrote "The Premature Burial" (1844) which detailed allegedly genuine cases of premature burial.

You can read all about 'Safety Coffins' on wikipedia.

And, contrary to popular belief, the expression 'saved by the bell' is nothing to do with coffins - it refers to the bell that signals the end of a round in a boxing match.


My very first RIP story in 2012 was one by Poe,
'Ligeia' and I liked it so much. Your lecture sounds very interesting.


You definitely have to give Poe a try, I think you will like him. I read The Murders in the Rue Morgue--I liked it, though you might need to suspend disbelief just a bit in the unravelling of the crime in that one! My favorite short story by him is A Cask of Amontillado, which I have read at least four or five times now! I am sure it is online, too. The woman afraid of being buried alive sounds just like what happened in this story--it must have been more common than I thought!


I think the Poppy Z. Brite story wasn't exactly representative of the sort of stories she is best known for. It was good, but not really scary--even creepily atmospheric. But I don't mind a different take on a ghost story. I love Poe, however. I should really read more of his work--I have a book of his short stories. I wonder if I saw that Vincent Price movie--this story would make a great movie! I used to love Abbott and Costello on Saturday nights. As a matter of fact I should have a little A&C fest for Halloween!


Hah--I knew I had read about it somewhere but I was wondering if it was just in a novel and not really true. How interesting! And curious. I wonder if it ever happened that someone was indeed buried alive? I will have to check out the wikipedia. I'll check out that Poe story--I am not familiar with it. And I had no idea that is where saved by the bell came from. It's one of those phrases that has fallen into such common use that I don't even think about where it first came from!


The lecture was at the Joslyn museum. I just discovered that they have this series of lectures put on by Creighton University (they are a local Jesuit university with a well known law school). For members the lectures are free. I thought of you when I was there as I think you would have been very interested in it. He spoke about Kandinsky's art mostly--it was really fascinating--must read up now on Kandinsky. I have not read Ligeia, though I think I have heard of that one. --Just checked, that is one of the stories in my Poe collection--maybe I will pick it to read next weekend. He was quite prolific it seems!


Your title made me smile. It does soud rather funny, doesn't it? Poppy and Poe. This doesn't sound like one of her darker stories. She's ususally good at creating an eerie atmosphere.
I actually believe that they did put bells in some caskets. It seems that it happened that someone was buried alive. Poe has more than one story, in which this happens. Imagine? That would be the absolute nightmare. Unimaginable.
I always saw the story more as a haunted house story, but that's really debatable.


I will see what else I can get my hands on by her. I did like the story, but it seems quite tame compared to what I think she tends to write when it comes to horror. Why does it not surprise me that Poe wrote more stories about being buried alive! Of course in A Cask of Amontillado we have a little of that thing going on...though intentionally! Poe must have had wild dreams--don't you wonder where he (and other writers like him) get their inspiration?! It is very much a haunted house story, I think--especially considering that happens at the end--the Ushers were all wrapped up in the place--it was nicely done and thoughtful for a short story and a horror story at that!

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