~ The Nebuly Coat ~


Set in the mid-nineteenth century, The Nebuly Coat is the story of a young architect, Edward Westray, who is sent to the remote Dorset town of Cullerne to oversee restoration work on crumbling Cullerne Minster. As he becomes caught up in the lives of the townspeople, he hears rumours about a disputed claim to the title of Lord Blandamer, whose coat of arms in the Minster’s great transept window is the “nebuly coat” of the title. When the new Lord Blandamer arrives, promising to pay all the costs of the restoration, Westray’s suspicions are aroused. Plagued by fears and premonitions of the imminent collapse of the Minster tower, and shaken by the sudden violent death of Sharnall, the organist, Westray is drawn ever deeper into danger as the secrets behind the “sea-green and silver” nebuly coat unravel: “What business was it of his to ferret out these things? He felt all the unutterable aversion of an upright mind for playing the part of a detective; all the sovereign contempt even for such petty meanness as allows one person to examine the handwriting or postmark of letters addressed to another. Yet he knew this thing, and he alone; he could not do away with this horrible knowledge.”


“On this still autumn evening there was something terribly amiss with the tower, in spite of all brave appearances. The jackdaws knew it, and whirled in a mad chattering cloud round their old home, with wings flashing and changing in the low sunlight. And on the west side, the side nearest the market-place, there oozed out from a hundred joints a thin white dust that fell down into the churchyard like the spray of some lofty Swiss cascade. It was the very death-sweat of a giant in his agony, the mortar that was being ground out in powder from the courses of collapsing masonry. To Lord Blandamer it seemed like the sand running through an hour-glass.”

  • Based on the text published in 1904, this is a new digital edition of this neglected classic. The Nebuly Coat has been admired by many writers, including Thomas Hardy, E.M. Forster, Graham Greene and Anthony Powell.
  • Fully edited and corrected text
  • Includes a Note on the Text, embedded explanatory notes and Links to Further Reading

“What makes the book addictive . . . is not its melodramatic plot, but its atmosphere, its whole perception of existence . . . It is more an extended elegy, an elegiac poem, than it is a novel. Someone in the book says that architecture is poetry in stone, and so is The Nebuly Coat itself.” – A.N. WilsonDaily Telegraph

“I find myself reading The Nebuly Coat for the third time with all the enthusiasm I felt more than 30 years ago when it first appeared in the World’s Classics. What a masterly opening page, humorous and exciting.” – Graham Greene (writing in 1988)

The Nebuly Coat . . . remains one of the test novels, appreciation of which establishes a curious link of sympathy between its admirers.” – The Times

“My own Nine Tailors was directly inspired by that remarkable book.” – Dorothy L. Sayers

“A superbly entertaining book, worthy to be shelved somewhere near The Mystery of Edwin DroodThe Nine Tailors, and Ghost Stories of an Antiquary.” – Michael Dirda


In addition of The Nebuly CoatJohn Meade Falkner (1858–1932) wrote two other novels: The Lost Stradivarius and Moonfleet.

(Regrettably, this edition is currently unavailable.)

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