To Be Read At Dusk: Dickens, Ghosts and the Supernatural
To be Read at Dusk: Dickens, Ghosts and the Supernatural
Spirits, phantoms and spectres, Dickens’s stories are full of ghostly apparitions. For over 30 years Dickens wrote, told and performed tales about the supernatural. To be Read at Dusk examines Dickens’s interest in the paranormal, his ‘hankering after ghosts’, and how he became a master ghost story teller publishing over 20 spooky tales.
The exhibition will explore Dickens’s famous ghost stories, including A Christmas Carol, and demonstrate Dickens’s significant influence on the ghostly genre. See beautiful editions of his haunting tales including a copy of The Chimes which he gifted to fellow author Hans Christian Anderson, and original sketches of Dickens’s ghosts of the past, present and future by John Leech. The display will showcase that Dickens not only wrote ghost stories but also performed them to friends, family and the paying public, as shown through original tickets and playbills. His ghostly tales, particularly those centred on Christmas, were a key part of Dickens’s public reading repertoire.
Dickens’s interest in supernatural and performance also spread into mesmerism and magic tricks. The display will explore Dickens’s own views on the supernatural, emphasising that he was a fascinated sceptic, as shown by correspondence asking about the location of a supposedly haunted house, which will be on display in the museum for the first time.
The exhibition will also touch on the enduring popularity of Dickens’s ghost stories and his influence on this prevalent genre. To be Read at Dusk will also allow visitors to reflect on their views on ghosts and the supernatural as they explore Charles Dickens’s former home.
To be Read at Dusk: Dickens, Ghosts and the Supernatural runs from 5th October 2022 until 5th March 2023.
We are grateful to Arts Council England for a National Lottery Project Grant which is supporting a wide-ranging community project to develop the exhibition themes and content, as well as engagement activities for children, young people and families.