Page 7. " the abandoned funeral chapel "

Funeral chapels are small churches used to conduct funeral services.  They are built in as many different styles as normal churches.

Swedish funeral chapel
Creative Commons AttributionSwedish funeral chapel - Credit: Calle Eklund
Another style of Swedish funeral chapel
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeAnother style of Swedish funeral chapel - Credit: Calle Eklund


Page 9. " The little boy giggled with delight "

In this Scottish Book Trust podcast, the author explains that the image of a small boy in a graveyard was the inspiration behind Bod's adventures in the graveyard.

Signed Copy of The Graveyard Book
Creative Commons AttributionSigned Copy of The Graveyard Book - Credit: Andrew West
Page 14. " not unlike a person crying "

Fox cries are indeed uncannily human.

Page 15. " a natural amphitheatre "

Amphitheatres are a kind of oval theatre or stadium with steep, raked seats, popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans.  The same shape occurs naturally in several locations across the world.

Another image of Arles Amphitheatre
Creative Commons AttributionAnother image of Arles Amphitheatre - Credit: htp2007



Page 15. " a place dominated by an obelisk "

An obelisk is a monument, usually a four-sided column tapering to a pyramidal point.  It is a shape associated with ancient Egypt and a popular graveyard monument style.

Page 17. " It will,” said Silas, “take a graveyard "

This references the proverb "it takes a village to raise a child", which originates with the Igbo people of Nigeria, although many African cultures have similar sayings.

Page 19. " Then Nobody it is "

In a video Q & A, the author discusses the idea for Bod's name, which comes from a variant of a Thomas Noel poem about pauper's graves:


Rattle his bones over the stones;

He's only a Pauper, whom nobody owns!

Page 20. " a listed building of historical interest "

"Listed" buildings are those given special protected status in the UK, restricting significant alteration or demolition.  Buildings are given this status because of architectural importance or historical interest.

Page 20. " powdered wigs "

In the eighteenth century it was the height of fashion to wear a wig, even if the wearer still possessed their own hair, and to apply powder to the wig to make it a white or grey colour.

Page 20. " the Man in the Moon who came down too soon "

This is a traditional English nursery rhyme:


The man in the moon came down too soon

And asked his way to Norwich

They sent him south and he burnt his mouth

By eating cold pease porridge

Page 21. " a lad who put in his thumb and pulled out a plum "

This is the popular nursery rhyme "Little Jack Horner", which can be traced to the mid 17th century:


Little Jack Horner

Sat in the corner,

Eating a Christmas pie;

He put in his thumb,

And pulled out a plum,

And said 'What a good boy am I!'

Page 21. " poisoned him with a dish of spotted eels "

This is the folk ballad "Lord Randall".  The lyrics and music can be found here.

Listen on Spotify:   performed by   Harry Belafonte     Steeleye Span

Page 23. " A graveyard is not normally a democracy "

Gaiman shows the society of the graveyard to be very similar to the society of the living.  In this tongue-in-cheek Colbert Report interview (available only in the US), Gaiman discusses the themes of life and death in The Graveyard Book.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Neil Gaiman
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorSkate Expectations

Page 24. " a full nineteen hands or more "

Nearly two metres tall.  Hands are a unit of measurement used for the height of horses.

Page 24. " the Lady on the Grey at the end of our days "

Mythos is rife with references to white or grey horses. While pure white horses are generally associated with heroes and deities, grey horses are often linked with death. One of the apocalyptic horseman, the "pale rider", is described in Revelation 6:8:

I looked, and there before me was a pale horse. Its rider was named Death

Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross
Creative Commons AttributionRide a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross - Credit: Eric Meyer

Though the Lady riding a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross is associated with various real and fictitious women, her statue evokes the image of the "Lady on the Grey".