One of the best-known and widely shared books about the South, Thirteen Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey has haunted the imaginations of generations of delighted young readers since it was first published in 1969. Written by nationally acclaimed folklorists Kathryn Tucker Windham and Margaret Gillis Figh, the book recounts Alabama’s thirteen most ghoulish and eerie ghost legends.
Curated with loving expertise, these thirteen tales showcase both Windham and Figh’s masterful selection of stories and their artful and suspenseful writing style. In crafting stories treasured by children and adults alike, the authors tell much more than ghost tales. Embedded in each is a wealth of fact and folklore about Alabama history and the old South. “I don’t care whether you believe in ghosts,” Windham was fond of saying. “The good ghost stories do not require that you believe in ghosts.”
Millions of readers cherish memories of being chilled as teachers and parents read them unforgettable stories like “The Unquiet Ghost at Gaineswood,” about the ghost of Evelyn Carter, who fills this Demopolis antebellum mansion with midnight musical lamentations because her body wasn’t returned to her native Virginia, and “The Phantom Steamboat of the Tombigbee,” about the wreck of the steamboat Eliza Battle, which caught fire on the way to Mobile and sank one February night in 1858. People who live along the river say the flaming steamboat wreck still rises on cold nights, its cotton cargo blazing across the waves while its terrified survivors cry for help from the icy water.
The title’s “Jeffrey” refers to a friendly ghost who resides in the Windham home and who served as Windham’s unofficial collaborator in this work and the subsequent books in this popular series, all of which are now available in high-quality reproductions of their spooky originals.
Kathryn Tucker Windham grew up in Thomasville, Alabama, the youngest child in a large family of storytellers. For many years a Selma resident, Windham was a freelance writer, collected folklore, and photographed the changing scenes of her native South. A nationally recognized storyteller and a regular fixture on Alabama Public Radio, her commentaries were also featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” Her other books include Jeffrey Introduces Thirteen More Southern Ghosts,Jeffrey’s Latest Thirteen, Thirteen Georgia Ghosts and Jeffrey, Thirteen Mississippi Ghosts and Jeffrey, and Thirteen Tennessee Ghosts and Jeffrey.
Writer and folklorist Margaret Gillis Figh was a frequent contributor to Southern Folklore Quarterly.
“Spine-tingling with a twang . . .” —National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered”
"Kathryn's stories are told with an engaging clarity of style that makes it easy to tumble into the tale.” —Huntsville Times
“In Windham’s tales . . . myth and fact intertwine to present a picture of the South that is as true as any textbook.” —Paris Review