‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ Tells These 3 Stories By Henry James

Netflix‘s The Haunting of Bly Manor is based on several stories by gothic horror novelist Henry James. Find out which of his works are included in the latest installment of The Haunting franchise. 

Amelie Bae Smith as Flora in 'The Haunting of Bly Manor'
Amelie Bae Smith | Eike Schroter/Netflix © 2020

[SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers for The Haunting of Bly Manor ahead]. 

‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ is based on ‘The Turn of the Screw’ 

The Turn of the Screw was published in October 1898. The horror novella is told from an unnamed narrator’s perspective, who shares the story of a governess put in charge of the Wingrave children. 

Many of the characters in The Haunting of Bly Manor are named after the source material characters. Showrunner Mike Flanagan did the same thing with The Haunting of Hill House, maintaining the names of Shirley Jackson’s characters. 

“I think of [The Turn of the Screw] as the backbone of this season — [the] through-line that carries us from beginning to end,” Flanagan explained to Games Radar

“There are three [stories by Henry James] that really beat at the heart of this season,” Flanagan explained further to Vanity Fair. “They all have a very dark edge to them.”

Bly Manor is often called a “great, good place.” This is a nod to another one of James’s stories, The Great Good PlaceThe Turn of the Screw has been told several times already, so Flanagan felt compelled to use other stories by James in The Haunting of Bly Manor

‘The Romance of Certain Old Clothes’ by Henry James is told in ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ 

Like many of the other characters in Bly Manor, Viola Willoughby is ripped from James’s work The Romance of Certain Old Clothes. “We got to go off into so many other of these wonderful ghost stories that people haven’t seen adapted before,” Flanagan told Games Radar.

Played by Kate Siegel — Theo Crain in Hill House — Viola is one of the more menacing spirits to haunt Bly. After a violent death at the hands of her sister, Perdita, Viola’s spirit becomes confined to a garment chest. Waiting for her daughter to come of age and find the riches left for her, Viola is disappointed when Perdita opens the box. 

As in the original story, Viola’s ghostly hands strangle her sister to death. Viola and Perdita become confined to Bly Manor, where their souls slowly lose all memory of their former life. 

‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ also showcases ‘The Jolly Corner’ by Henry James

The Jolly Corner, another short story by James, is also touched upon in The Haunting of Bly Manor. Henry Wingrave’s (Henry Thomas) narrative captures the essence of this tale, which tells the story of a man with an alter ego — the ghost of the man he might have been. 

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After a secret romance with his brother’s wife, Henry learns he is the father of young Flora (Amelie Bea Smith). Before he can figure out a way to make things work between them, Henry’s brother and sister-in-law die tragically. 

Wallowing in his loss, Henry allows his work and alcohol to consume him. Instead of choosing to be there for his daughter and nephew, Henry gives in to the darker version of himself.

Stream The Haunting of Bly Manor now.