Charles Dickens vs the Supernatural

The Last of the Spirits (the final ghost visits Ebenezer Scrooge). Image courtesy of The British Library

A Christmas Carol is the only Charles Dickens book I have affection for – I used to sketch scenes from it when I was younger that weren’t a million miles away from the illustration above. Hence, when the folks over at the British Library mailed over the information and images for their free exhibition, A Hankering After Ghosts: Charles Dickens and the Supernatural, I immediately added it to my list of things to see over Christmas.

So what does the show actually entail?

As well as marking the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’ birth the exhibition aims to explore Dickens’ relationship with the supernatural.

Visitors can expect to find out how the author’s practicing of mesmerism led to a spot of marital discord, his ongoing dispute with the 19th century Spiritualists (why on earth would the dead return to generally prat about and communicate inanities peppered with spelling mistakes?), and how the adolescent Dickens was rather keen on The Terrific Register – a penny weekly dealing in such topics as murder, ghosts, incest and cannibalism.

Rather a counterpoint to the Muppets’ take on A Christmas Carol but it sounds fascinating.

A Hankering after Ghosts: Charles Dickens and the Supernatural, 29 November 2011 – 4 March 2012, British Library (Folio Society Gallery)