Charles Dickens' ghost stories —apart from 'A Christmas Carol' — are not as well known as his major novels. Nonetheless, Dickens was a superb teller
of stories of the supernatural and he authored several short stories that dealt with the world of spirits and macabre.
Dickens was not only a writer, he also regularly gave lectures, and held recitals of his work. Keeping with the oral tradition of storytelling, the Charles Dickens Museum in London
, in the build-up to Halloween, has re-enacted Dickens' love of reading aloud to an audience, hosting an event where three of Dickens' ghost stories are read, against a back-drop of flickering candle light, to a captivated audience.
The Charles Dickens Museum is located at 48 Doughty Street in Holborn, London. The museum occupies the Georgian terraced house that was Charles Dickens's home from 25 March 1837 (a year after his marriage) to December 1839.
The museum is perfectly decorated with furnishings from the Victorian era.
While living in the house, Dickens completed the novel 'The Pickwick Papers' (1836), he wrote arguably his best-known novel 'Oliver Twist' (1838) as 'Nicholas Nickleby' (1838–39).
Dickens also began work on 'Barnaby Rudge', a novel which was completed in 1841.
Dickens's ghost stories extend across the realm of horror and the supernatural, with tales of murder, suicide, existential terror, undercover ghosts, child butchery, cannibalism, deals with Satan and executions.
Whether Dickens believed in ghosts himself is uncertain; however, Dickens stimulated Victorian interest in the supernatural even thoough he sought rational explanations for it.
The stories recited were 'The Ghost in the Bride's Chamber', 'Captain Murder' and 'The Signalman.'
'The Ghost in the Bride's Chamber', covers an eerie tale of a man who spends the night in a room in an inn; a twin-bedded room where the other bed is occupied by a dead body. 'Captain Murder' is perhaps the most humorous of Dickens' ghost stories. It tells the dark tale of Captain Murder, Bluebeard (the French Barbe bleue tradition of serial murdering husbands) who cuts his wives throats and cannibalizes them.
'The Signalman' is generally considered to be Dickens’ best ghost story. It is a disturbing mystery that challenges assumptions about fate, purpose and free will. This tale describes am meeting between a gentleman who befriends a very nervous railroad worker who operates a signal close to a tunnel at the bottom of a ravine. The signalman recounts how he has been haunted by a faceless phantom, who appears to predict a railway disaster.
The stories were retold by the actor Dominic Gerrard
, who masterfully afflicted a range of emotions to convey the spooky atmosphere the different tales demanded.