My #1 fear in this life is ghosts,* and it doesn’t take a lot of exposure to ghost stories to keep me up at night. (Just last night, a story about a ghost that kept opening a refrigerator — that was the whole story — kept me awake until 4am.) Since I’m sure the rest of you enjoy entertainment like Ghost Hunters on the daily, I thought I’d do my best to surpress my fear and give you a spooooky Halloween post about famous writers’ ghosts. Presented here is what I found (so you can decide for yourself what’s real):

Famous writer ghost #1: Emily Dickinson. Someone with the heady username Enceladus posts this picture on

Do you see the ghost?!?!?! Me neither. Enceladus helpfully outlines it for us:







Despite her reclusive nature, it seems that Emily Dickinson still pops through the mortal veil/her window now and again. (Also, this is a fellow ghost hunter’s response: “It’s a little weird though, but didn’t she write a lot of poems about death?” YOU GUYS. SHE EVEN WROTE ABOUT GHOSTS. !!!!!!)

Famous writer ghost #2: William Faulkner. No pictures of Will’s ghost (SADLY) but several sites confirm that he still haunts Rowan Oak, his home in Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner’s ghost likes to write on walls and scurrilously wander the grounds, to scare off all the Ole Miss students making out in the woods behind his house (ghosts are always grumpy).

Famous writer ghost #3: Willa Cather. This article sounds very exciting with its promise of lesbian ghosts in rural Nebraska (a “Boston marriage,” the locals say) but sadly we’re just given two blurry pictures of people in a church. Luckily THIS one reveals a double exposure that is most definitely the ghost of Willa, sitting for her high school portrait:

(When you’re a ghost, you reenact for eternity the most frustrating and mundane parts of your life. This is also partly why ghosts are so terrifying — any of us could become one, and this is what it would be like. Cranky for the rest of time!!!)






Neither confirmed nor denied famous writer ghost #4: Edgar Allan Poe. So we all know Poe is a natural for ghostdom. I mean, come ON. If Poe is not a ghost then I am one (oh no).

But according to Ann Trubek in her book A Skeptic’s Guide to Writer’s Houses, this is included among the Baltimore Poe house FAQs:

“Is the house haunted?
Some people have strong feelings about ‘ghosts’ and other related subjects. They are deeply offended by these claims due to religious beliefs. A historic site that claims to have had ‘ghostly’ events also stands the chance of being accused of making up stories to bolster attendance. For these and other reasons the Poe House has a policy of not discussing supernatural events that may or may not have occured during its past history. Any soft whispering that you may hear coming from no visible source is your imagination.”

Anyone who wants to confirm whether that “soft whispering” is a ghost or not should take this protip: the Ghost Radar® iPhone app. It only costs a dollar, and whoa, you guys. So worth it. I tested it out just now and a ghost spoke the following words to me: “beyond,” “fish,” “joy,” “result” and “protection”. So I think one thing is clear: I’m haunted by a joyful fisherman from the beyond, who is here for my protection (and he gets results?). (Later on I got “coach” and “sale”. Was my fisherman alerting me to online bargains?? Yes.) I’m feeling rather relieved about this whole thing.

*I wasn’t even allowed to watch Ghostwriter in kindergarten, because the ghost gave me nightmares.

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