Sir John Randolph Leslie, 3rd Baronet of Glaslough, Co. Monaghan, generally known as Shane Leslie (1885–1971), was educated at Eton and King's, Cambridge, during the first decade of the twentieth century. While at King’s he met Provost M. R. James, converted to Catholicism, and renounced his inheritance. His writings, like those of his friend R. H. Benson (brother of E. F. Benson), have a particularly Catholic slant. They are also the product of a lifelong interest in the supernatural; as he wrote in his Ghost Book, he 'always had a prepossession for the queer and all that raises unanswerable query.'
Leslie's novelette A Ghost in the Isle of Wight was published by Elkin Mathews & Marrot in 1929, in a limited signed edition of 530, as part of their Woburn series of books.
The Spectator's review of the Woburn series, which appeared on the 21st of December 1929, called Leslie's book lame and boring, which didn't sound promising. But they were also less than nice about Baring-Gould's A Book of Ghosts, so what do they know! Anyway, I was spurred on by my fondness for the Isle of Wight.
The narrator of A Ghost in the Isle of Wight arranges a holiday at Killington Manor on the Isle of Wight without having seen the place beforehand. He is part of a group, which includes his friend Edward Sarsfield, Sarsfield's wife, her sister and four maidservants. Killington is an isolated place, far from villages and highways on the south west side of the island (if I read the directions right). The narrator turns up a week after the others, having been held up in London, and is told after dinner on his first night on the island that the place is haunted. Sounds had been heard - the tread of feet and the clinking of swords - two nights running, and Sarsfield's wife was almost overcome by the scent of decaying lilies. But during the fortnight following the narrator's arrival there are no further nocturnal disturbances. Eventually, the narrator is woken in the night by sounds on the stairs. The entire house is investigated, the property agent is questioned, but the matter remains unresolved. A week later, he is woken by strange sounds again, and this time senses someone leaning over him as lies with the bedcovers pulled over his head.
I read somewhere, though I can't remember where now, that the story is a true account of an actual haunting. Read as a piece of fiction, it isn't all that thrilling. It does have the feel of a story based on an actual experience - a report rather than a story. The narrator tries to piece the evidence together methodically, along with the rest of the household, to formulate an explanation for what has been seen by all of them. I can see it slotting in well in a volume of Isle of Wight hauntings.
The book, bound in decorated grey boards with a matching dust jacket, tends to turn up for anything from twenty-five pounds (forty dollars), depending on condition; the jacket is prone to falling apart, so getting a fine copy in similar jacket will obviously cost a fair bit more. As far as I can tell, the story hasn't been published in any other edition.