Historic Book “Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans” Draws on Popular Legend and Folklore in 40 Phantasmal Tales
Discussion, reading event to be held Oct. 29 at Hill Memorial Library
BATON ROUGE – Local lore about supernatural sightings, as curated by Jeanne deLavigne in her classic book, “Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans,” finds the phantoms of bitter lovers, vengeful slaves, and menacing gypsies haunting nearly every corner of the city, from the streets of the French Quarter to Garden District mansions.
Just in time for Halloween, LSU Press has republished all 40 ghost stories – originally printed in 1944 – along with the macabre etchings of New Orleans artist Charles Richards.
Drawing largely on popular legend dating back to the 1800s, deLavigne provides vivid details of old New Orleans with a cast of spirits that represent the ethnic mélange of the city set amid period homes, historic neighborhoods, and forgotten taverns. Combining folklore, newspaper accounts, and deLavigne’s own voice, these stories range from the tragic—brothers, lost at sea as children, haunt a chapel on Thomas Street in search of their mother—to graphic depictions of torture, mutilation, and death.
Having contributing the forward to the book, de Caro – who is a retired English professor at LSU – places the writer and her work in the context of the 1940s. He uncovers new information about deLavigne’s life and describes her book’s pervasive lingering influence on the Crescent City’s culture today. A folklorist by training, he served as president of the Louisiana Folklore Society and editor of the Louisiana Folklore Miscellany.
A New Orleans native, deLavigne – who died in 1962 – also collaborated with Jacques Rutherford on the novels “And the Garden Waited” and “Fox Fire.”
In conjunction with the republishing of the book, LSU Libraries Special Collections will host a talk and reading with folklorist and LSU professor emeritus Frank de Caro on Tuesday, Oct. 29. A book signing and reception will follow. Located in Hill Memorial Library, the talk will begin at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
To learn more about the LSU Libraries Special Collections event, visit www.lib.lsu.edu/special or contact Head of Special Collections Jessica Lacher-Feldman at 225-578-6544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Aaron Looney
LSU Media Relations