Want ‘Haunting of Bly Manor’ Spoilers? Check Out Its Literary Inspiration
If Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House had you jumping out of your skin two years ago, brace yourself for The Haunting of Bly Manor, a follow-up series creator Mike Flanagan says is “much scarier” than Hill House.
Whereas Haunting of Hill House was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson, Bly Manor — hitting Netflix on Friday, October 9 — takes its inspiration from the 1898 horror novella The Turn of the Screw and nearly a dozen other Henry James stories.
“The thing I have access to, that no other adaptation of The Turn of the Screw has, is the rest of Henry James’ ghost stories. I get to use all of them,” Flanagan told GamesRadar last October. “The Turn of the Screw is only one of a dozen stories that we’re telling. All Henry James; all thematically linked.”
In The Turn of the Screw, a governess working at a country house in Essex, England, becomes convinced that the estate is haunted and that her two young charges are aware of and even influenced by the ghosts that roam the grounds.
The Haunting at Bly Manor transfers the action to 1980s England and swaps the governess for an American au pair named Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti). Many of the other characters, meanwhile, share names with Turn of the Screw characters: Miles and Flora are the kids in the novella, and Henry is their uncle. Ms. Grose is the housekeeper in the story, and Jessel and Quint are the deceased former employees.
Are they the same characters? Hard to say. Bly Manor certainly won’t be a straight adaptation, since Flanagan is roping in other Henry James stories. “I think of [Turn of the Screw] as the backbone of this season — the through line that carries us from beginning to end,” he said at the time. “But we get to go off into The Jolly Corner and The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, and so many other of these wonderful ghost stories that people haven’t seen adapted before. It’s all wrapped up in what seems to be familiar, but that familiarity goes away really early in the first episode. It says, ‘We’re off on a whole other road.’”
In 1908’s The Jolly Corner, protagonist Spencer Brydon returns to New York City after decades abroad to help renovate his family’s property — and finds himself face-to-face with the ghost of the man he would have been had he stayed in America.
And in 1868’s The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, two sisters in Massachusetts fall for the same man, and as he falls for one and then the other, jealousy and curiosity collide in ghastly and deadly ways.
“For Henry James fans, [The Haunting of Bly Manor] is going to be pretty wild, and for people who aren’t familiar with his work, it’s going to be unbelievably scary,” Flanagan told Birth.Movies.Death in August 2019. “I already think it’s much scarier than season 1, so I’m very excited about it.”
The Haunting of Bly Manor, Season Premiere, Friday, October 9, Netflix