A Brief History of Ghosts and Spirit Photography
A Brief History of Ghosts and Spirit Photography
Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe you can see the unseen?

The Victorians were obsessed with seances, spiritualism and other creepy ways of contacting and capturing ghosts, including spirit photography – a genre which emerged in the 1840s.

Watch as curators Ruth and Lydia take us through some eerie depictions of ghosts in our print and photography collections, from stories by Charles Dickens, to ghostly apparitions in stereographs, and famous photographs by Lewis Carroll and Cecil Beaton – not to mention the legendary V&A ghost who supposedly haunts the museum in South Kensington…..


  • 00:00 Why were the Victorians obsessed with ghosts?
  • 00:58 Ghosts on Exhibition Road
  • 01:57 Spiritualism, clairvoyant trances and Charles Altamont Doyle
  • 03:42 What is a seance?
  • 05:24 Ghost stories and Charles Dickens
  • 06:57 Fraudsters and ghosts at the theatre – The Davenport Brothers
  • 07:53 Spirit photography and Lewis Carroll
  • 10:06 3D ghosts in stereographs
  • 12:17 Ghosts in the home
  • 13:31 The unconscious and Cecil Beaton's surrealist memento mori 
  • 14:44 The legend of the V&A ghost 

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