Irish Fiction Friday: Oscar Wilde: The Canterville Ghost

Halloween is nearly upon us, and what better way is there to enjoy this spooktacular holiday than by reading a classic ghost story by an iconic Irish author?

We’re looking forward to some ghostly mayhem with The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde. First published in 1887, The Canterville Ghost is a 19th century tale about a malevolent ghost whose ancestral home is overrun by a rambunctious American family.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was born in Dublin and is celebrated as one of Ireland’s greatest playwrights, novelists, and poets. Here’s a teaser from Wilde’s short story, and you can read the rest of the tale over at Project Gutenberg.

Happy Halloween from Dublin2019.


The Canterville Ghost
by Oscar Wilde

"The ghost glided on more swiftly" Illustration by Wallace Goldsmith, made available by Project Gutenberg
“The ghost glided on more swiftly”
Illustration by Wallace Goldsmith, made available by Project Gutenberg

When Mr. Hiram B. Otis, the American Minister, bought Canterville Chase, every one told him he was doing a very foolish thing, as there was no doubt at all that the place was haunted. Indeed, Lord Canterville himself, who was a man of the most punctilious honour, had felt it his duty to mention the fact to Mr. Otis when they came to discuss terms.

“We have not cared to live in the place ourselves,” said Lord Canterville, “since my grandaunt, the Dowager Duchess of Bolton, was frightened into a fit, from which she never really recovered, by two skeleton hands being placed on her shoulders as she was dressing for dinner, and I feel bound to tell you, Mr. Otis, that the ghost has been seen by several living members of my family, as well as by the rector of the parish, the Rev. Augustus Dampier, who is a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. After the unfortunate accident to the Duchess, none of our younger servants would stay with us, and Lady Canterville often got very little sleep at night, in consequence of the mysterious noises that came from the corridor and the library.”

“My Lord,” answered the Minister, “I will take the furniture and the ghost at a valuation. I have come from a modern country, where we have everything that money can buy; and with all our spry young fellows painting the Old World red, and carrying off your best actors and prima-donnas, I reckon that if there were such a thing as a ghost in Europe, we’d have it at home in a very short time in one of our public museums, or on the road as a show.”

“I fear that the ghost exists,” said Lord Canterville, smiling, “though it may have resisted the overtures of your enterprising impresarios. It has been well known for three centuries, since 1584 in fact, and always makes its appearance before the death of any member of our family.”


Read the rest of The Canterville Ghost at Project Gutenberg.

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