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Charles Dickens Was a ‘Fascinated Skeptic’ of the Supernatural

Charles Dickens was a master of the spooky story; more than 150 years after the famed author’s death, his tales of phantoms, goblins and ghosts of Christmas past continue to frighten and delight readers around the world. But Dickens’ fascination with spirits and specters transcended the pages of his fiction. Amid the spiritualist craze that gripped Victorian society, he sought out haunted houses and attended séances, even as he scoffed at the idea that ghosts existed.

The author’s multi-faceted relationship with the supernatural is the focus of an upcoming exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum in London. Opening this fall, “To Be Read at Dusk: Dickens, Ghosts and the Supernatural” explores Dickens’ lasting influence on the ghost story genre—he published more than 20 spooky tales in his lifetime—and his dogged interest in the paranormal.

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