In 1882 two Victorian gentlemen involved in London’s spiritualist and occult scene set up an informal dining club to meet and discuss matters spiritual and psychical in a relaxed, non-judgmental atmosphere. The Ghost Club was kept strictly private and last for over 50 years, including among its guests literary figures like Arthur Conan Doyle and W. B. Yeats, the Egyptologist Edgar Wallis Budge, and the colonial administrator Sir Harry Johnstone. They also kept assiduous minutes of their meetings (now kept by the British Library), and this talk will introduce some of the early key members and discuss some of their key discussions and controversies. The talk derives from work towards the first ever published selection of materials from the Club.


Roger Luckhurst is a Professor who teaches at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has written on mummies, vampires, and zombies, and was once welcomed onto Radio 3’s ‘The Verb’ as ‘the go-to guy for the undead.’ His most recent book is Gothic: An Illustrated History, from Thames and Hudson (2021).

Your curator and host for this event will be the writer Edward Parnell, author of Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country. Edward Parnell lives in Norfolk and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Ghostland (William Collins, 2019), a work of narrative non-fiction, is a moving exploration of what has haunted our writers and artists – as well as the author’s own haunted past; it was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley 2020 prize, an award given to a literary autobiography of excellence. Edward’s first novel The Listeners (2014), won the Rethink New Novels Prize. For further info see:


[Image: an illustration by James McBryde from the 1st edition of M. R. James’s Ghost Stories of an Antiquary]