A ghost story may be any piece of fiction, or drama, or an account of an experience, that includes a ghost, or simply takes as a premise the possibility of ghosts or characters' belief in them. Colloquially, the term can refer to any kind of scary story. In a narrower sense, the ghost story has been developed as a short story format, within genre fiction. It is a form of supernatural fiction and specifically of weird fiction, and is often a horror story. While ghost stories are often explicitly meant to be scary, they have been written to serve all sorts of purposes, from comedy to morality tales. Ghosts often appear in the narrative as sentinels or prophets of things to come. Whatever their uses, the ghost story is in some format present in all cultures around the world, and may be passed down orally or in written form.

Around the worldEdit

England Edit

In "Some Remarks on Ghost Stories"[1] (1929), M. R. James identifies five key features of the English ghost story, as summarized by Prof. Frank Coffman for a course in popular imaginative literature:

  • The pretense of truth
  • "A pleasing terror"
  • No gratuitous bloodshed or sex
  • No "explanation of the machinery"
  • Setting: "those of the writer's (and reader's) own day"


The Tale of Genji contains ghost stories. In English Victorian society, Lafcadio Hearn published his collection of Japanese folktale, Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things.[2]


The Arabian Nights contains a number of ghost stories, often involving jinns, ghouls and corpses. Other medieval Arabic literature such as the Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity also contain ghost stories.


The "Vikram and Betal" is a collection of ghost stories narrated by the ghost, "Betal".

See alsoEdit


  • Felton, D. Haunted Greece and Rome: Ghost Stories from Classical Antiquity, University of Texas Press, 1999.
  • Ashley, Mike, Editor. Phantom Perfumes and Other Shades: Memories of GHOST STORIES Magazine, Ash-Tree Press, 2000.
  • Medieval ghost stories : an anthology of miracles, marvels and prodigies / comp. and ed. by Andrew Joynes, Woodbridge: Boydell press, 2003.
  • Locke, John, Editor. Ghost Stories: The Magazine and Its Makers: Volumes 1 & 2, Off-Trail Publications, 2010.

References Edit

  1. Excerpts From "Some Remarks on Ghost Stories". 13 October 2005.
  2. "Kwaidan", by Brian Stableford, in Frank N. Magill, ed., Survey of Modern Fantasy Literature, Vol 2. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, Inc., 1983, ISBN 0893564508 (pg. 859-860).

External linksEdit