The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw is a horror novella penned by American-British author Henry James. The classic ghost story tells the tale of a governess who becomes convinced that the two children she is caring for are being haunted. The governess may be an unreliable narrator, and it is up to the reader to determine whether or not the supernatural elements are real.

It was originally serialized in Collier’s Weekly magazine in 1898, split into 12 installments running from January to April. The story was accompanied by illustrations from artist Eric Pape.

The Turn of the Screw by Eric Pape

James revised the story several times after publication, altering the ages of the children and making more than 500 changes in wording. The original version of the story can be read in The Collier’s Weekly Version of The Turn of the Screw, which was published by Coffeetown Press in 2010.

The Turn of the Screw has received numerous adaptations, including a 1954 opera from Benjamin Britten and a Royal Ballet adaptation in 1999. The best-known adaptation may be the 1961 film The Innocents, which was listed by director Martin Scorcese as one of the scariest horror films ever made. A prequel film, The Nightcomers was released in 1972.

This cover, which comes from the 1960 WDL Books edition, is the work of R.W. Smethurst, a British pulp artist. Although Smethurst primarily painted his works with watercolors, he also drew inspiration from collages. Smethurst was especially adept at horror covers, painting covers for The Beetle by Richard Marsh and The Supernatural Reader.

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