Skirts Of The Dead Night

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that my mother and her family lived in Bacon’s Castle, a historic house in Surry, Virginia,  when she was a young girl.  

She and many of her family members continued to live in the community for the remainder of their lives.  I grew up there, and, with the family history, “the Castle House” has always been special to me.

I’ve always remembered, as a pre-teen, reading a mystery novel that was loosely based on the house. The only thing I recalled about it was that it involved people who were traveling, and that my Aunt E had arranged for me to borrow the book.

All through the years, I’d hoped that I could find that book again, but without a title or author, there wasn’t much chance.

THEN….. a couple years ago, Aunt E died. She and her husband had no children, so their house and belongings were left to my Cousin. Last summer, I helped Cousin clean out the house. One day, we were going through some books and placing most of them in a stack for the thrift shop. But Cousin likes mysteries, so she put a few of those aside to take home.

Later that evening, she called me.  She had begun reading a book and recognized all the similarities to Bacon’s Castle, including the picture on the book jacket. Not realizing this was the book I’d been hoping to find all these years, she just called to tell me about her “find . She had no idea what a find I would consider it to be.

The book:

Bacon’s Castle (“The Castle House” to locals):

Turns out, Skirts Of The Dead Night was written by a native of Surry. The copyright date is 1950.

What was even better than Cousin finding the book, was that Aunt E had two copies. We’re not sure why both of them escaped the thrift shop box; possibly because one had a book jacket, and one didn’t.  Cousin, being the generous person that she is, gave both copies to me. Of course, I kept one, and gave one to my son, Marshall. I placed a search online on an out-of-print book site, which will notify me if a copy becomes available. I’m hoping to find one for my sister.

And I’m keeping an eye out at the thrift shops. I know of two copies that almost made it there.


21 responses to “Skirts Of The Dead Night

  1. Wow!! What an exciting find 🙂 I hope you “score” online, too. MJ

  2. How very interesting. It may take a serendipitous event to occur and that will be a great story too. I hope you find another copy of your book. Remember the movie “Serendipity” where Jonathan looks for a certain book throughout it? Great story and thank you for sharing.

  3. You sure were fortunate to find those books. I know you will enjoy them and put them with your Bacon’s Castle memorabilia. It pays to go through everything before sending it to the thrift shop.

  4. What a treasure! I love that it connects you to your childhood on so many different levels! And that is a magnificent house…

  5. oh, talk about family synchronicity! love it!

  6. What a great find! Hope you have good luck in finding a copy online too. Gee if I were making a trip to King’s soon, I’d look for you there – it’s a huge used and antique bookstore in Detroit (four stories packed full of books!).

  7. What a treasure to find! I’m thrilled for you. This gave me goosebumps.

  8. Knowing how much you love family history and such this had to be a thrill for you! Of course you know, I won’t be able to *not* look for it too (for you) if I’m in a used book store from here on out. That would be an easy jacket cover to spot, and the title sounds pretty intriguing!

  9. And I, Dianna’s sister, also had the pleasure of reading this book when I was a teen, thanks to the same Aunt E. Aunt E. shared our love of history, although the Castle wasn’t as special to her as to us. For years in the early 50’s she worked across the street from the old Courthouse and spent many lunch hours reading documents from the county’s early days.

  10. I love your story and what a great find for you and Marshall! I remember my 6th grade teacher reading a book to us on Fridays if we had a “good” week. I loved the story and was totally engrossed in it. As an adult I always remembered the story but not the title of the book. One day while I was doing house work with Ethan (5 years old) watching Reading Rainbow on TV, I overheard a story that sounded so familiar. It was “The Boxcar Children”! I went in search of it and found it and read it to my children. They added many more books and made it a series but none were as good as the old original. Thanks for that memory Diana!

  11. A very nice find! And it’s also a pretty good book. The best (as far as Castle references go) is right near the beginning. As the home is being described, there’s no doubt that THIS is the Castle House !! Great post!

  12. It’s neat that you have a connection to the book. So glad you found copies of the book for your very own.

  13. You are very lucky to make the find and if you get to many, remember your cousin!!!!!………………..jj

  14. I’m glad you managed to get that book. What a find! I’m sure you will treasure it for ever.
    Bacon’s Castle looks very nice.
    Enjoy reading your book.

  15. What a great story! How amazing you have the connection AND the book – I bet you’ll be able to get another copy of it. Lots of book collectors out there as well as out of print spots. I love the cover and I’m sure it’s a great read. As the author of a mystery novel of course I’m also interested in the story itself. I’m sure I’d enjoy reading it – I’ll have to keep an eye open when hubby and I visit the antique shops’ book sections.


  16. That’s so great that your cousin gave you both copies. She must be a really good person. I’m intrigued and will put the book on my want list. It sounds like an interesting read. It’s wonderful that you have a family connection with such a beautiful historical house. The book is like icing on the cake. 🙂

  17. I know that made your day, Dianna. I’ll have to keep an eye out, too.

  18. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    Dianna, you have educated me so on Bacon’s Castle. I know it was a great house of history but not so much how it fits around your family.
    very interesting. Thanks and keep it up.

  19. How exciting…I love the history there as well. I am 3enjoying your blogs.
    Thanks for sharing.

  20. Oh, I’m so glad you found the book! I’ll have to search for it – I’d love to read it! I usually have good luck at! What an interesting post!

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