Seventy years after his death, H.G. Wells is getting another shot to break into the world of ghost stories. According to NPR, while searching through tens of thousands of pages written by the revolutionary science-fiction author in the University of Illinois’s collection, Strand Magazine’s managing editor Andrew Gulli found the manuscript for “The Haunted Ceiling.” Not recognizing the title, Gulli checked with leading Wells scholars, who also knew nothing about the story, despite its being in the library’s collection for years. Based on several narrative features and the distinctive handwriting (read as “indecipherable”), the scholars agreed it was authentic. “I went myself independently and I looked at the manuscript of The Time Machine, and it had that similar type of writing that was a nightmare to transcribe,” Gulli told NPR.
The story itself is about a man who is going insane because he’s being haunted by a ghostly apparition of a dead woman on the ceiling. While the original reporting mentioned no theory on why the manuscript was not previously found in the decades since Wells’s papers became open to the public, we’re not ready to rule out that an invisible man from the past brought them in a time machine. Hear excerpts from the story below, or read the full version in The Strand.