Throughout Dorothy K. Haynes’s work Scotland is presented as a different world, infused with the supernatural and tied to the ballad tradition. Although Haynes published widely in the middle decades of the twentieth century, and her work was republished in two ‘best of’ collections in 1981 and 1996, her stories remain underexamined. At her best, Haynes might be thought of as Scotland’s answer to Shirley Jackson; her work is characterised by a prevailing sardonic humour and matter-offact approach to supernatural events. Haynes, however, approaches her Scottish setting in two very distinct ways. In her historical stories, often centring on witch trials, the physical landscape is richly described, and at times appears to have a dark(?)n agency of its own. Her modern stories, on the contrary, focus primarily on domestic interiors. In many of these stories, such as ‘Double Summer Time’, ‘The Nest’, and ‘The Wink’, the natural world is an intrusive, disruptive force. Examining such stories alongside more famous tales of the everyday supernatural, including ‘The Peculiar Case of Mrs Grimmond’, reveals the complexity of Haynes’s approach to the supernatural, which breaks down conventional boundaries between familiar and unfamiliar, natural and supernatural and interior and exterior. Haynes’s work reshapes the Scottish environment to show the instability of modern civilisation, and the prevalence of older forms of storytelling and enmeshment in the natural world.
- Dorothy K. Haynes
- domestic horror