The Strange Afterlives of Literary Ghosts

When literary history ventures into the paranormal

Ghosts are not universally beloved; not by a long shot. But whether you’re a true believer in hauntings and revenants or a bit more skeptical of the presence of the unquiet dead, ghosts have become an increasingly large part of our everyday lives. City and state tourist bureaus tour the presence of local ghosts, for one thing, and the presence of ghosts in particular hotels can be seen as a bonus for attracting guests.

If your own interest in ghosts dovetails neatly with a penchant for all things literary, you’re in luck — there’s also no shortage of literary ghosts out there in the world. A new article at CrimeReads offers a look at several famous writers who might just be spending their afterlives making certain locations a little more unsettling.

It’s not all that surprising to learn that a number of writers whose work often delved into the uncanny are rumored to have returned as ghosts to double down on those moods. The article cites H.P. Lovecraft, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe as examples of this phenomenon. Poe’s ghost, in particular, can reportedly be seen in numerous Baltimore locations: “the tunnels, as well as the hospital where he died, the military fort where he was based when he unhappily served in the army, and the street where he lived.”

Perhaps the most unlikely combination of literary ghost and haunted location is that of Anne Brontë, who was seen on Long Island in 1961. That juxtaposition is less bizarre than it initially seems when you learn that the Long Island house in question contained a staircase from a building where Brontë had worked during her lifetime. Still, the idea of Anne Brontë’s ghost having wacky misadventures on Long Island is an elevator pitch waiting to happen — even if it’s a far cry from all things Gothic.

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