If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, forget em', cause, man, they're gone. –Jack Handey
Question #91164 posted on 04/18/2018 1:45 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Ok crew, this one's a toughie.

I'm looking for a specific book. I checked it out from the fifth floor of the BYU library a couple of years ago.

I originally found it through an online search on the library site while I was researching William Wordsworth and other Romantic poets and their connection to ghosts and hauntings. I've been doing every search I can think of online and can't find it again! Unfortunately I am not near the BYU library now, but I was hoping I could find it just so I could have the title and look for it elsewhere.

Some details:
-I believe that some version of the word "Victorian" was in the title.
-The title also contained a span of years (eg. 1732-1889. It wasn't those years. I just remember it had years like that listed on the cover.)
-The cover had a black and white picture on the front, I think of a city of village, and then a purple bar (I believe at the bottom) with the title on it.
-The book was a scholarly review of the role that ghosts played in the Victorian age. Some of the chapters talked about how women could use ghostly appearances as proof to uphold their accusations of violence or promiscuity against their husbands. Their word alone was not enough to accuse their husbands, but if a ghostly apparition had visited them or their friend, that counted as weighty evidence.
-The book also went into the history of seances and Ouija boards, and talked about how contacting spirits was not the dark, scary thing that we make it out to be today. Rather, Ouija boards were popular activities for courting couples because the game gave them a legitimate reason to sit close to one another and touch hands.

Thanks in advance!

-The Pagemaster


Dear Pagemaster,

I was spending my boring less intensive class looking on HBLL's website, but I couldn't find a book matching your description. (Great description, by the way! I'm impressed you remembered that much.) Unfortunately, now that that class is over and finals are rapidly approaching, I won't be able to give this question the proper attention. So instead of holding it over for two hundred more hours, we'll make a competition out of this! Readers, you have all proven yourselves quite skilled at finding obscure facts. So today, on the eighteenth of April, I, the fintastic guppy of doom, declare a competition! Whoever can find this book and add a correction with its title and author will receive a poem about you written by yours truly. To claim your prize, either email me (guppyofdoom@theboard.byu.edu) or ask a question with your name or 'nym and various random facts about yourself, including but not limited to your favorite fish, a catchphrase (yours or one you love), your dream job, and your favorite song. Regardless of when you post the answer and contact me, you will receive your poem after finals, but I can promise that it will be beautiful and worth the wait. In fact, if you give me your address I will mail you your poem, with lovely drawings of fish (which will probably be drawn by my roommate because I have no artistic ability.)

Go forth, readers! May the best googler win!

-guppy of doom

posted on 04/19/2018 12:13 p.m.
I suppose this doesn't exactly fit the standards of the competition but I just looked on the library website and if you log in, they have a checkout history thing where you can see every book you've ever checked out. My record goes back to 2012, so that hopefully the range covers your 'couple of years'.
Best of luck in your search!
posted on 04/19/2018 12:13 p.m.
I tried to retrace your searches on the library website, and I was able to find a possible candidate with years in the title and a cover like what you remembered: "Romantic Moods: Paranoia, Trauma, and Melancholy, 1790–1840", by Thomas Pfau. However, the content doesn't seem at all like what you described. I wasn't able to make it to the library today to actually check the surrounding books, but based on a search of the library website, maybe one of these is what you had in mind content-wise:
- "Victorian Ghosts in the Noontide:
Women Writers and the Supernatural
Book (Vanessa Dickerson)
- The Victorian Supernatural (Nicola Bown)
All three are in the same subject area, have purple on the covers, and are found on the fifth floor of the library.
- Beatrice
posted on 04/19/2018 1:11 p.m.
Sump, that's a fantastic suggestion! And Beatrice, respect to you—I didn't find the "Romantic Moods" book in my search! The other two I suspected might be it, but according to a google books search (if that is to be trusted) neither book goes much into Ouija boards. Pagemaster, let us know if these suggestions/books are correct! And any other reader, feel free to join in—the competition isn't over quite yet!
-guppy of doom
posted on 04/20/2018 12:40 a.m.
Thanks to everyone for all of their help, and for the tip about checking my account history at the library!

I found the book I was looking for, "Visions of an Unseen World: Ghost Beliefs and Ghost Stories in Eighteenth-Century England" by Sasha Handley, and it does indeed have a purple cover, though I seem to have mixed up some of my descriptions of the cover/title with another book that I read at the same time, called "Necromanticism: Traveling to Meet the Dead 1750-1860" by Paul Westover.