The Haunted House (story)
The Haunted House is a story published in 1859 for the weekly periodical All the Year Round. It was "Conducted by Charles Dickens", with contributions from others. It is a "portmanteau" story, with Dickens writing the opening and closing stories, framing stories by Dickens himself and five other authors:
"The Mortals in the House" (Charles Dickens)
"The Ghost in the Clock Room" (Hesba Stretton)
"The Ghost in the Double Room" (George Augustus Sala)
"The Ghost in the Picture Room" (Adelaide Anne Procter)
"The Ghost in the Cupboard Room" (Wilkie Collins)
"The Ghost in Master B's Room" (Charles Dickens)
"The Ghost in the Garden Room" (Elizabeth Gaskell)
"The Ghost in the Corner Room" (Charles Dickens)
The story appeared in the Extra Christmas Number on 13 December 1859. Dickens began a tradition of Christmas publications with A Christmas Carol in 1843 and his Christmas stories soon became a national institution. The Haunted House was his 1859 offering.
Dickens's opening story, The Mortals in the House, is the strongest of the collection and demonstrates his mastery of storytelling and characterisation. When the narrator sees a deserted house from his railway carriage he becomes determined to take up residence there. However, the house is said to be haunted and the servants gradually become agitated. The narrator sends them away and invites a group of his friends to stay with him and fend for themselves.
On Christmas Eve the friends arrive with the aim of discovering evidence of the supernatural. Secluded in their rooms for the holiday, the friends agree to keep silent about any ghostly experiences until they gather on Twelfth Night.
The ghosts the characters see have no connection with the house, and are not even really ghosts; the stories are of injustice, terror, or regret.
The tales are all very different, but each has an element of the strange and scary. Some of the house guests have heard stories from ghosts while others have had out-of-body experiences. Wilkie Collins tells a seafaring story of Spanish pirates and the torment of a candle that, as it burns, takes the narrator ever closer to explosion and death. Dickens himself contributes The Ghost in Master B's Room, a very peculiar tale of the ghost of innocence that hints at the author’s own feelings of melancholy. Elizabeth Gaskell contributes a strong story of working people in the north of England. The stories by the other authors are adequate. The closing story, The Ghost in the Corner Room, is again by Dickens.
- The Haunted House, Published in All the Year Round Extra Christmas Number 13 December 1859
- Charles Dickens Bibliography
- Dickens World website
- Archer, Katie. "Day Out: Dickens World." Surrey Mirror. August 27, 2009
- Complete text of The Haunted House
- 'Spooky tales by the master and friends' The Guardian 14 December 2002
- The Haunted House on Victorianweb.org
- 'The Christmas Numbers of All the Year Round: 1859. The Haunted House by Charles Dickens' Google Books