Today is Charles Dickens’ birthday and it seems that the world has caught a new batch of Dickensian Fever with the publication of Claire Tomalin’s biography and a fantastic article in the latest issue of Smithsonian Magazine. I’m not going to attempt to give you the greater details of Dickens’ life or his life’s work but instead I’m going to talk to you about my personal favorite Dickens’ collection: The Haunted House.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Charles Dickens I know and love is Charles Dickens, Ghostbuster!!
The Haunted House was published in an 1894 collection of three short stories by Dickens, under the title Christmas Stories, which is where I stumbled upon it. But as I researched further, I found that it was first published in 1859 in All Year Round, a publication for which Dickens served as editor. This contained a unique collection of stories under the same title, with Dickens writing the introductory story and the closing story. The other stories were written by writers of the time who Dickens invited to contribute a tale of their own set in one of the many haunted rooms of The Haunted House.
In his story, Dickens sets the stage for the paranormal parlor games that the protagonist invites his friends to join in. The abandoned house with rooms featuring names such as The Picture Room and The Clock Room is inhabited by a skeptical man who invites each of his dearest friends and relatives to arrive on the magical Twelfth Night of Christmas. It was often believed that the Twelfth Night of Christmas had a supernatural power—not unlike our current belief in Halloween as being a good time to communicate with those that have shuffled off this mortal coil.
The understanding was established, that anyone who heard unusual noises in the night, and who wished to trace them, should knock at my door; lastly, that on Twelfth Night, the last night of holy Christmas, all our individual experiences since that then present hour of our coming together in the haunted house, should be brought to light for the good of all; and that we would hold our peace on the subject till then, unless on some remarkable provocation to break silence.
Each invited author then takes up residence in one of the particular rooms and writes from the point-of-view fo the ghost.
Thus far we’ve published the first two and the third is coming soon. You can find them here as digital books. Check out the paranormal games of Dickens!
The Haunted House eBook
The Ghost in the Clock Room eBook
Happy Birthday Charles!!