A Hankering After Ghosts
Dickens & The Supernatural
Charles Dickens (1812-70) was one of the most famous men of his time and the popularity of his works has continued to this day. With the success of A Christmas Carol and his penchant for creating eerie scenes Dickens has secured an enduring association with the Victorian ghost story. The supernatural permeated Victorian culture and was a subject of philosophical debate and scientific investigation. Despite his own rational beliefs, Dickens employed supernatural devices in many of his works. As well as offering a fanciful escape from reality, he also used the ‘uncanny’ to explore the power of human will, and to examine the crossover between the extraordinary power of the mind and supernatural phenomena. (British Library)
I had the immense pleasure of viewing a beautiful exhibition at the British Library to mark the bicentenary of Charles Dickens. From a young age Dickens developed an interest in the macabre, also as an adult he was very interested in the ‘mesmeric mania’ that swept Britain. Most of his novels are embedded with supernatural scenes and engage the reader deep into the psychological and supernatural sense in his fiction. I strongly recommend this exhibition which has been separated into six sections:
1. Ghost Story.
2. Upbringing and personal story.
3. Childhood influences.
5. Supernatural manifestations.
6. Ghostly fiction.
The exhibition also includes: A letter from Charles Dickens to his wife , Catherine (1853), Household Words (1853) and The Terrific Register: or records of crimes, judgements, providences and calamities (1821).
Charles Dickens works include: The Pickwick Papers (1836-7) which made Dickens’s characters the centre of popular cult. With the serialization of Oliver Twist (1837-9), A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby, A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Hard Times and others. Dickens was a great writer and journalist. His episodic writing was enjoyed by many Victorian readers who followed his stories and creative illustrations featured in journals such as Household Words and Master Humphrey’s Clock.