‘Preaching to the Nerves’: Reading the Supernatural in Mid-Victorian Periodicals and the Modern Tabloid Press

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates

Verity Burke is a PhD student at the University of Reading, considering anatomy, epistemology and the popular imagination in nineteenth-century scientific, medical and literary texts. Her wider research interests include Charles Dickens, medical jurisprudence and the body. Verity works with the Francis Cole Archive of Early Medicine and Zoology, and she loves a good taxidermy squirrel. Come say hi on Twitter @Dicksnensian.

Eek! There are ghosts in my royal palace! Expectant parents claim they can see baby’s dead grandmother! Knives hurled across the kitchen and words spelled out with pebbles in the bathroom…[1] While these may sound like plots from a Victorian sensation or Gothic novel, they’re actually titles from articles in contemporary sensationalist magazines and tabloid newspapers. With a vast audience, ghost stories attract all kinds of attention, but the inclusion of such stories in these publications tends to encourage snobbery and disparaging remarks, and in this sense…

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