Men, Women, and Ghosts
"Men, Women, and Ghosts" is a short story collection by Elizabeth Phelps that deals with primarily the supernatural but also a whole host of topics never publicly addressed at the time. Apart from a few stories such as ‘The Day of My Death’, the ghosts here aren’t the stereotypical clanking chains and wailing type, they’re beleaguered, frustrated souls who have suffered great hardship. "One of the Elect" reads like a changeling story, but gradually becomes a tale dealing with sentimentality and the pains of prostitution. One of the strongest tales is ‘Kentucky’s Ghost’, an old sailors tale of bullying and revenge at sea combined with a compelling and gripping narrative. Elizabeth Stuarts Phelps Ward (1844-1911) was one of the first feminist, American writers of the 19th century who vehemently opposed the traditional view of women in society. Much of her views are expressed in her novels, targeting the oppressive contemporary view of marriage and the family unit. Even her marriage to Herbert Ward, a journalist seventeen years her junior, was another act of rebellion against the status-quo. Her novels are primarily focused on the topics of religion and equality, mixing spiritualist themes with poignant social issues. She was a prolific author of more than 50 volumes of fiction, essays, and poetry. Phelps’ most popular works include "The Gates Ajar", "Trixy", "Men, Women, and Ghosts", and "The Silent Partner".