Sarah Waters on the Supernatural and Her Favourite Ghost Story, “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs.

Sarah Waters on the Supernatural and Her Favourite Ghost Story, “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs.
Sarah Waters. Photo (c) Charlie Hopkinson.

Sarah Waters is a Welsh novelist, perhaps best known for her debut novel, Tipping the Velvet (1998), which was adapted into a BBC mini series in 2002. It is set in Victorian England during the 1890s and tells the coming-of-age story of a young oyster girl who falls in love with a male impersonator and follows her to the music halls of London, where she goes through a journey of self-discovery.

Sarah’s latest novel, The Little Stranger, set in the 1940s in a dilapidated Warwickshire mansion, is a modern ghost story fuelled by war trauma, grief and class tensions.

As a life-long fan of tales of horror and the supernatural, Sarah talks to us in this episode of Litro Lab about her favourite classic ghost story, “The Monkey’s Paw” (1902) by W. W. Jacobs. She also tells us about her childhood obsession with the Pan Book of Horror Stories, writing The Little Stranger, haunted houses, and the lasting appeal of ghosts. Please listen, first to our chat with Sarah, then a reading of “The Monkey’s Paw” by the actor Greg Page—whose voice you’ll recognise from previous episodes of Litro Lab—using the player below.

The first man had his three wishes, yes… I don’t know what the first two were, but the third was for death.   “The Monkey’s Paw”

“The Monkey’s Paw” is used with the kind permission of the Society of Authors as the literary representative of the estate of W. W. Jacobs.
Music credits: “Unanswered Questions” and “Seven March” by Kevin MacLeod (, licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. Also sound effects from freesound: “Chimney Fire” by reinsamba, “Wind howling nighttime” by dynamicell, “Squeaky gate” by acclivity, “Footsteps concrete” by freqman, “Pendulum” by daveincamas, “Door knocks” by fogma, and “Opening Dead Bolt” by Scott-Kelly.

Emily Cleaver

About Emily Cleaver

Emily Cleaver is Litro's Online Editor. She is passionate about short stories and writes, reads and reviews them. Her own stories have been published in the London Lies anthology from Arachne Press, Paraxis, .Cent, The Mechanics’ Institute Review, One Eye Grey, and Smoke magazines, performed to audiences at Liars League, Stand Up Tragedy, WritLOUD, Tales of the Decongested and Spark London and broadcasted on Resonance FM and Pagan Radio. As a former manager of one of London’s oldest second-hand bookshops, she also blogs about old and obscure books. You can read her tiny true dramas about working in a secondhand bookshop at and see more of her writing at

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