Life after Spiritualism: Victorian Women’s Ghost Stories

  • Diana Basham


The Victorians not only loved ghost stories, they specialised in the production of a specific kind of ghost. This was not the materialising spirit of the seance with its ready availability and its easy chatter. Instead, accounts emerging from notoriously haunted sites such as Borley Rectory, Willington Mill, and Pittsville in Cheltenham repeatedly testify to the presence of a ghostly lady wearing a drab-coloured costume and generally exhibiting symptoms of an inarticulate distress. Edmund Drury, the skeptical investigator of Willington Mill, described his intense horror at encountering a manifestation of this kind. He saw, emerging from a closet, ‘the figure of a female attired in greyish garments, with the head inclining downwards, and one hand pressed upon the chest, as if in pain, and the other … extending towards the floor, with the index finger pointing downwards’.3 Others spoke of similar encounters. The ghost was ‘sometimes seen sitting wrapt in a sort of mantle, with her head depressed, and her hands crossed on her lap. The most terrible fact is that she is without eyes’.4


Open Door Woman Question Conscious Personality Dead Mother Psychic Research 
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    See Cathrine Crowe, The Night-Side of Nature; or, Ghosts and Ghost-Seers 1848 (Aquarian Press; 1986), p. 190–4.Google Scholar
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© Diana Basham 1992

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  • Diana Basham

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