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Ghost Stories (Collector's Library)

Charles Dickens' fascination with ghosts and the macabre is traced to his childhood, to the grim and ghoulish stories told him by his nursemaid, Mary Weller, whom he referred to as Mercy, 'though she had none on me.' Along with the horrors of the 'penny dreadful' magazine, "The Terrific Register" - a publication which made Dickens 'unspeakably miserable and frightened the very wits out of my head' - the stories recounted by Weller were so powerful as to color Dickens' imagination and shape much of the enduring fiction he created. Here are chilling histories of coincidence, insanity and revenge.

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 near Portsmouth where his father was a clerk in the navy pay office. The family moved to London in 1823, but their fortunes were severely impaired. Dickens was sent to work in a blacking-warehouse when his father was imprisoned for debt. Both experiences deeply affected the future novelist. In 1833 he began contributing stories to newspapers and magazines, and in 1836 started the serial publication of Pickwick Papers. Thereafter, Dickens published his major novels over the course of the next twenty years, from Nicholas Nickleby to Little Dorrit. He also edited the journals Household Words and All the Year Round. Dickens died in June 1870.

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