Halloween Bibliography


This is by no means a comprehensive bibliography of Halloween books; for example, there are probably thousands of children's books on Halloween, and nearly as many recent craft and cookbooks; also, there are hundreds of folklore books which include brief mentions of Halloween lore. My emphasis here is on the history of Hallowe'en, and on books which deal exclusively with either Hallowe'en or related holidays. I've included a section on the vintage party pamphlets so popular during the first half of the 20th century because these are excellent sources of the games and folklore which were part of the holiday at that time.

Many of the books listed below are still in print and available from Amazon.com, while others are out of print and rare; for those books I'd suggest either The Advanced Book Exchange or ebay, where you may even find a few of these books in e-book form.

If you have information on anything you think I've missed here, or even have a vintage Halloween book for sale that you think might interest me, please drop me an e-mail!

I've broken my bibliiography into four different areas:

(Click any cover to enlarge)


Halloween, a Romaunt, with Lays, by A.C.C., published by H. S. Parsons in 1845. Although this book is actually a collection of religious poetry (with a very brief discussion of Halloween's "Scotticism"), it's notable for being possibly the first book to use the name "Halloween" in its title.
Halloween: Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear, by Diane C. Arkins, published by Pelican in 2000. This one could just as easily have been placed in the "Collectibles" section, since it features extensive reproductions of vintage postcards and other material, but it also includes enough history of Halloween customs to land it here instead.
Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration of Fun, Food, and Frolics from Halloweens Past, by Diane C. Arkins, published by Pelican in 2004.
Halloween: An American Holiday, by Lesley Bannatyne, published by Pelican.
A Halloween How-To: Costumes, Parties, Decorations, and Destinations by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, published by Pelican in 2001. Although mainly a how-to book, I've included this because of its solid information on Halloween activities taking place all over the globe.
Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America's Fright Night by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, published by Pelican in 2010. Nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Non-fiction.
A Halloween Reader: v by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, published by Pelican in 2004.
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols, by Edna Barth, illustrated by Ursula Arndt, published by Clarion Books in 1972 (recently reprinted). This is probably the best book on Halloween ever written for children (it's good enough to delight adults as well). Includes lots of history, facts, and fun illustrations.
Bonfire Prayers, Customs, Recipes, Songs and Chants for Guy Fawkes Day by Conrad Jay Bladey, published by Hutman Productions in 2000. Is this the only book devoted exclusively to Guy Fawkes Day? It's a fine collection of information, but runs only 28 pages (including covers).
The Irish Customs of November Night or Samhain or Halloween by Conrad Jay Bladey, published by Hutman Productions in 1999. Although slender at just 30 pages, this little pamphlet contains some wonderful information on the holiday not often found elsewhere.
Games for Hallowe-en by Mary Blain published by Barse and Hopkins in 1912. Possibly the first hardback book published exclusively on Hallowe'en; content is similar to the party books later published in pamphlet form.
Halloween written and illustrated by Helen Borten, published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company in 1965. This charming children's history of Halloween is an entry in the "Crowell Holiday Book" series, and Borten's illustrations are especially winning.
Elsie's Hallowe'en Experience by Mary D. Brine, published by Hurst and Company in 1888. Although because this collection of stories can't truly be called the first children's Halloween book (since only one story deals with Halloween), it must be one of the first to include the name in the title. Also a charming look at how Halloween was practiced in late 19th century America.
Hallowe'en at Merryvale by Alice Hale Burnett, published by The New York Book Co. in 1926. Although fiction, this slender volume contains both some of the best descriptions of early 20th-century Halloween parties, and delightful accompanying illustrations (by Charles F. Lester).
October Dreams, edited by Richard Chizmar and Robert Morrish, published by Cemetery Dance in 2000. Although primarily a collection of Halloween-themed horror (including the award-winning story "Gone" by Jack Ketchum), this book also includes Halloween memories and some history.
Let's Find Out About Halloween, by Paulette Cooper, illustrated by Errol Le Cain, published by Franklin Watts in 1972. Although written for very young children, this is actually fairly accurate and features charming illustrations.
The Book of Halloween, by Ruth E. Kelley, published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co. in 1919. 195 pp., with index. This amazing book covers the history of Halloween, Halloween lore and fortune-telling from many lands, some related holidays such as May's Walpurgis Night, and even ideas for Halloween parties. Includes some illustrations and photos. The first real book to deal with the history of Halloween.
Weird! The Complete Book of Halloween Words, by Peter R. Limburg, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, published by Bradbury Press in 1989. Although this book is written mainly for children, it's still an entertaining history of a number of words used commonly around Halloween, such as eerie, skull, costume, etc.
Halloween Through Twenty Centuries, by Ralph and Adele Linton, various publication dates.For years this was the standard book on Halloween history; nowadays it is recognized as being largely inaccurate and/or romantic. This is the book most often referred to by Christian organizations attempting to prove Halloween's "Satanic" origins.
The Halloween Book by Jack Maguire, published by Berkley Books in 1992. This just may be the only mass market paperback history of Halloween (although the focus is really more on crafts and recipes). Includes a few simple, mainly how-to illustrations.
Jack O'Lantern Twins by Anne M. McCauley, illustrated by Vera Stone Norman, published by Lyons and Carnahan in 1941. A child's early reader, with delightful illustrations. Published in 1941, it emphasizes pumpkin carving and parties, but makes no mention of trick or treat.
Hallowe'en: Its Origin, Rites and Ceremonies in the Scottish Tradition by F. Marian McNeill, published by The Albyn Press in 1970. Slender but fascinating, complete with photos, illustrations and even music!
The Real Halloween: Ritual and Magic for Kids and Adults by Sheena Morgan, published by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. in 2002. Don't let the cover or title fool you - this is actually one of the better researched books on Halloween.
A Hallowe'en Anthology: Literary and Historical Writings Over the Centuries, by Lisa Morton, published by McFarland in 2008, 208 pages. Click here for more information.
The Halloween Encyclopedia, by Lisa Morton, published by McFarland in 2003, 232 pages. The first encyclopedic reference on the holiday; click here for more information.
The Halloween Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, by Lisa Morton, published by McFarland in 2011, 255 pages. Updated with 50 new entries, new illustrations, and revised bibliography and index; click here for more information.
Trick or Treat?: A History of Halloween, by Lisa Morton, published by Reaktion Books in 2012. Includes color and black and white illustrations; click here for more information.
Hallowe'en: How to Celebrate It, by Martha Russel Orne, published by Fitzgerald Publishing Corporation in 1898 48 pp. Yes, that's 1898! This little antique includes a long list of Halloween fortune-telling methods, games, and recitations. A great look at what this holiday was like 100 years ago, in the days before trick-or-treating, and probably the first book dedicated solely to Halloween.
Hallowe'en Tales and Games by Ethel Owen, published by Albert Whitman and Co. in 1928. Unusual for being published in hardback, this little gem also contains delightful illustrations by Eleanore Mineah Hubbard.
Halloween: Pagan Festival to Trick or Treat, by Mark Oxbrow, published by Strega in 2001. Features some interesting and unusual illustrations.
Halloween (A Holiday Book), by Lillie Patterson and illustrated by Gil Miret, published by Garrard Publishing Co. in 1963. This children's book is typical of the Halloween books of mid-century, which were prone to errors and apparently did little fact checking; however, the illustrations are charming.
Two Holiday Folktales From Mexico ("The Devil's Misadventures"/"The Mint Bush: A Memorable Christmas Tale") by Anthony Ramirez, published by Bilingual Book Press in 1996. Interesting in being a Mexican folktale which centers not on Dia de Los Muertos, but on Halloween, which it calls "Dia de la Brujas", or "Day of the Witches".
Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night by Nicholas Rogers, published by Oxford University Press in 2002
All Around the Year: Holidays and Celebrations in American Life by Jack Santino, published by University of Illinois Press in 1985 (reprinted in 1994). Although Santino's other books include more on Hallowe'en, this still includes some new information and also covers holidays related to Hallowe'en.
The Hallowed Eve: Dimensions of Culture in a Calendar Festival in Northern Ireland by Jack Santino, published by University Press of Kentucky in 1998. Invaluable look at Halloween in Ireland; even includes photos.
Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life, edited by Jack Santino, published by the University of Tennessee Press in 1994, 280 pp. with index. A magnificent collection of twelve essays by different authors, covering everything from "Harvest, Halloween, and Hogmanay" to (my personal favorite) Carl B. Holmberg's "Things that Go Snap-Rattle-Clang-Toot-Crank in the Night: Halloween Noisemakers". It's even illustrated to boot.
Hallowe'en (Our American Holidays), by Robert Haven Schauffler, published by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1935. At 391 pages this may still be the longest book published on Hallowe'en; part of a series published during the 1930's covering holidays. Sadly, no illustrations.
Werner's Readings & Recitations No. 31: Hallowe'en Festivities, by Stanley Schell, published by Edgar S. Werner & Co. in 1903. The cover may not be much to look at, but the book is otherwise a gem - not only is it possibly the second-oldest book dedicated solely to Halloween (behind only Martha Russell Orne's Hallowe'en: How to Celebrate It, but in 192 pages it includes history, menus, party planning tips, games, fortune-telling, poems, and more.
Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween by David J. Skal, published by Bloomsbury in 2002 (hardback, later reprinted in paperback). Excellent look at Halloween in the 20th and 21st centuries, written in Skal's highly readable style.
Halloween Program Sourcebook (Volume One: The Celebrations Library) edited by Sue Ellen Thompson, published by Omnigraphics, Inc. in 2000. Although this does include some history, it's mainly notable for collecting nearly all of the classic works of Halloween fiction and poetry, including both "Hallowe'en" and "Tam O'Shanter" by Robert Burns, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving, "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe and more.
The Halloween Catalog Collection: 55 Catalogs from the Golden Age of Halloween by Ben Truwe, published by Talky Tina Press in 2003. Although the bulk of this is a collection of reproductions of vintage catalogs, it also has some of the very best information anywhere on Halloween in America in the early 20th century. Order directly from Talky Tina Press.

  • Day of the Dead
  • Halloween Collectibles
  • Vintage Pamphlets
  • Related Books