Charles Dickens Was A Member Of A Real-Life Ghostbusters Club
Who ya gonna call? Chuck Dickens!
When I was a child, my neighbor and I formed a janky supernatural club, which entailed meeting under a tree in my backyard and conjuring (totally legitimate) spirits on a ouija board. After a few years, the club stopped meeting. I felt too old and silly to still believe in ghosts.
That is, until today, when I learned Charles Dickens became a member of a ghost hunters club at the ripe old age of 50. And it’s not like he was “finding himself” or something — Dickens was already an established author with career-defining works such as “Oliver Twist” and “A Tale Of Two Cities” under his belt. I guess bustin’ just made him feel good.
What started out in 1855 as an informal meeting of Trinity College lads interested in ghosts, spirits and supernatural happenings became by 1862 a formal society with the very original name of “The Ghost Club.” Dickens was a founding member.
Even in the 1860s, when spiritualism and séances were very trendy in London, The Ghost Club was still seen as something of a joke, garnering open ridicule from The Times of London. Perhaps the only saving grace to lend legitimacy to the club was its elite members, including Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. That’s right — the great mind behind “Sherlock Holmes” was also a part-time ghost hunter. While Dickens brought a dose of scientific skepticism to the club, Doyle was pretty all-in when it came to the supernatural, believing in everything from ghosts to fairies to Harry Houdini’s magical powers.
Together, the club went on real ghost-busting missions, the first of which debunked the spooky magic tricks of The Davenport Brothers. This team of American magicians performed a trick in which they’d convince their audience that a bunch of ghosts was playing musical instruments all on their own. Then The Ghost Club rolled in to bust open the mystery and reveal the magicians’ secrets to their fans.
Honestly, this seems less like the stuff of cool ghostbusters and more like that of birthday-party buzzkills.
It’s likely Dickens was the “glue” that held The Ghost Club together, as the group fell apart soon after his death in 1870. But that didn’t stop his spirit from popping up at a séance in the United States just five days later to wrap up the end of his novel “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” With that bit of unfinished business tied up, let’s hope Dickens’ ghost was able to move on to the next world or whatever.
If you’re the kind of person who still shudders at any bump in the night, you can rest easy knowing The Ghost Club was resurrected in 1882 and remains in service today. Looking to join the elite ghost-busting society of Dickens and Doyle? An individual membership costs just 25 pounds…and a bit of your credibility. Jumpsuits and proton packs not included.