"THE WEREWOLF" (1896) by CLEMENCE HOUSMAN

SOURCE: "The Werewolf" (1896) by Clemence Housman


DESCRIPTION: "...Two bodies lay in a narrow place.  Christian's was one, but the other beyond not White Fell's.  There where the footsteps ended lay a great white wolf...."


PLOT: In an isolated Scandanavian community, a strange woman appears, enchanting everyone, especially one of two twins, Sweyn. Only his brother, Christian is aware that White Fell is a werewolf. Christian's attempt to splash holy water on her hands fails. The little boy Rol and then the old woman Trella disappear. Both have kissed White Fell, and now his brother Sweyn has done so. To save his brother, Christian chases White Fell with a spear, hoping to catch her at midnight when she must take wolf-form. She breaks both of his hands then cuts him across the throat with her hand axe. The blood, of one willing to die to save his brother, splashes on her, killing her just as midnight arrives and she transforms. Sweyn follows their trail, finding his dead brother and White Fell's dead wolf body.


WEREWOLF FACTS: Housman's werewolf has certain restrictions: at midnight she must take the form of a wolf, holy water splashed on the hands will reveal her, and dogs and natural wolves hate her. The most original idea is how the werewolf is killed, with blood as pure as Christ's --that of someone who was willing to sacrifice themselves for another--is lethal to the monster.


INTERESTING FACTS: Most likely inspired by Marryat's tale, Housman, sister of Laurence Housman, sets the story is similar way with family members disappearing while most everyone is clueless about the existence of the werewolf. Also the same is the woman becoming a wolf in death. The werewolf in both stories is a woman dressed in white fur who becomes a white wolf. What I find interesting about this story is that it was published a year before Dracula, which would change everything in the horror field. Housman is obviously not influenced by Stoker, and we can see --for the last time--what werewolf writers brought to the idea. Like Sherlock Holmes for the Mystery genre, after Dracula things just wouldn't be the same in the horror field.