Yeats and Dickens’s secret society of spirits

Happy Halloween! And an especially happy one for me, as I’ve just had my first article for The Paris Review published. It’s on a suitably spooky subject: the literary past of the Ghost Club, which counts Dickens and Yeats among its former members.

My favourite part of the article isn’t actually something that I wrote. It’s a quotation from Brenda Maddox’s very fine book Yeats’s Ghosts, which I included in this paragraph:

Yeats’s contributions to the Ghost Club are connected, in some intriguing ways, to his poetry. During the years of his membership, and with the help of his wife Georgiana, he redoubled his experiments in automatic writing. She would hold a pencil to a piece of paper and, while in a semiconscious state, scrawl down the words of invisible messengers. At first, she did this as a trick on her husband (as Brenda Maddox observes in Yeats’s Ghosts, “the messengers seemed at times to have been reading Marie Stopes’s Married Love, a highly popular book that stressed the husband’s duty to give his wife sexual satisfaction”). Later, she would claim, she did it sincerely. Yeats ended up telling the Ghost Club of the “lessons in Philosophy he had received from a group of beings on the other side.”

You can read the whole article here.

Since it’s Halloween, and since I’m linking to my stuff, you might also care to read this old Spectator piece of mine on horror movies.