Autumn Extracts – paintings and stories combined

19th October 2015
Hope you are enjoying Autumn. With Summer over and the rigours of Winter on the way, there is always something exciting about this time of the year. Something slightly menacing and sinister. And of course always so very atmospheric. It is the most 'Gothic' of all seasons. It is my favourite time of the year.

Here, in this post, are some extracts from my novels that mention those feelings. The sensations of Autumn. The illustrations accompanying them are from paintings by John Atkinson Grimshaw & George Inness.

Grimshaw, in particular, was the great exponent of melancholy in Victorian times. He loved scenes of twilight, fog and gloom and the special radiance created by gaslight and moonlight. A mysterious kind of light that can be both mellow and dramatic for an artist. His buildings are tall, neo-Gothic edifices, ivy clad and often surrounded by high skeletal trees. Autumn and Winter were his favoured seasons, therefore. And he makes great use of brown and gold colours.

From 'THE ARROW CHEST - A Victorian Mystery'

Autumn scene, woman standing in park, looking over shoulder.
'Welcome Footsteps'


It is morning, and the whole estate is resonant with the calling of jackdaws and ravens, heady with the cloying fragrance of over-ripe fruit and the smoke from the bonfires of old leaves recently swept by the army of gardeners forever busy about the grounds. The sun is not yet all that high in the sky as Amos and Daphne, alone for perhaps the first time since his arrival yesterday, stroll together and take in the atmosphere of what promises to be the perfect autumnal day. Un-stirring, the calm, radiant air - and ideal, therefore, for the business of shooting, as Lord Bowlend and his chums were heard to utter upon their departure this morning within a large open wagon drawn by a pair of lugubrious horses - an enormous array of gun barrels, beaters’ sticks and various other paraphernalia belonging to the men bristling out from it as if it were going into the teeth of some fearsome battle instead of their way to shoot a few over-fed birds.

From 'Virgin and the Crab'

landscape with big house, autumnal colours and woman standing lower right
'The Chill of Autumn.'
     As the Summer turns to Autumn and as the frost cracks under her horse’s hooves and the pheasants and turkey fowl of the woods and parks grace her dinner table, the Princess Elizabeth - after a brief enforced sojourn at Court - settles down once again to her private life here at Hatfield.

From 'WILDISH A Story Concerning Different Kinds of Love'

dark forest scene with vague figures in distance
'Edge of the Forest' George Inness.


Breathless for a moment he simply lies there looking up through the canopy of trees, listening to the wind, watching the clouds - until all of a sudden he realises that something has changed, that everything is so very different and that the winds are possessed of a unique and special sound, autumnal winds, in fact - for with the leaves turning brittle, drying upon their branches, the sound is of a rough, abrasive variety, almost a roar: so very different, for example, to the soft breezes on fresh, verdant foliage that would occur in spring. Every autumn he has ever known in his twenty-seven years returns to him abruptly with that sound, a sound never acknowledged until now, and the comprehension of it is exhilarating.

From 'ELIZABETH - The Virgin Queen and the Men who Loved Her'

old painting of Tudor Nonsuch Palace, with towers and long approach
Nonsuch Palace - Flemish early 17th Century.
     The guards loitering idly in the shade beneath the portcullis of the gate house with its tall octagonal towers rouse themselves but slowly and, shielding their eyes against the low autumnal sun, gaze out along the length of the great ride. And sure enough, away in the distance, emerging from the dust and glare of sunlight two men on horseback appear, the thunder of their horses even at a canter being felt in the ground almost before anyone can fully discern them - tall in the saddle, their glinting spurs sparking in the sunlight, they are upon them too rapidly for them to react at all.

From 'THE HOURS BEFORE - A Story of Mystery and Suspense from the Belle Époque'

dark, autumnal landscape with park gates and bare trees
At the Park Gate.


It is becoming dark, the early, smoky darkness of a November afternoon, and she anticipates being quite alone in the sprawling avenues of granite crosses, statues and mausoleums. As the temperature begins to fall, and with only a halo or two of gaslight nearby, the fog begins to settle around the tombstones, weaving beneath the branches of the yews and across the dank earth.
Authored by Robert Stephen Parry

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