The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain

For the Bat for Lashes album, see The Haunted Man (album).
The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain

Frontispiece of first edition, 1848
Author Charles Dickens
Original title The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain, A Fancy for Christmas-Time
Illustrator Sir John Tenniel
Frank Stone
William Clarkson Stanfield
John Leech
Country England
Language English
Genre Novella
Publisher Bradbury & Evans
Publication date
19 December 1848
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 188 pp
Preceded by Dombey and Son
Followed by David Copperfield

The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain, A Fancy for Christmas-Time (better known as The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain or simply as The Haunted Man) is a novella by Charles Dickens first published in 1848. It is the fifth and last of Dickens's Christmas novellas. The story is more about the spirit of the holidays than about the holidays themselves, harking back to the first in the series, A Christmas Carol. The tale centres on a Professor Redlaw and those close to him.

Plot summary

Scene from The Haunted Man at the Adelphi Theatre, in the Illustrated London News, December 30, 1848.

Redlaw is a teacher of chemistry who often broods over wrongs done him and grief from his past.

He is haunted by a spirit, who is not so much a ghost as Redlaw's phantom twin and is "an awful likeness of himself...with his features, and his bright eyes, and his grizzled hair, and dressed in the gloomy shadow of his dress..." This spectre appears and proposes to Redlaw that he can allow him to "forget the sorrow, wrong, and trouble you have cancel their remembrance..." Redlaw is hesitant at first, but finally agrees.

As a consequence of the ghost's intervention, Redlaw is without memories of the painful incidents from his past. He experiences a universal anger that he cannot explain. His bitterness spreads to the Swidgers, the Tetterbys and his student. All become as wrathful as Redlaw himself. The only one who is able to avoid the bitterness is Milly.

With this realization, the novel concludes with everyone back to normal and Redlaw, like Ebenezer Scrooge, a changed, more loving man. Now a whole person, Redlaw learns to be humble at Christmas.


In what would be the first public performance of the technique known as Pepper's ghost, John Henry Pepper staged a Christmas Eve production of play in 1862 at the Royal Polytechnic Institution (currently known as the University of Westminster) in 309 Regent Street. It was very well received, if only for the new apparatus's ability to project a ghost so as to look as though it is interacting with those on stage.[1]


  1. Secord, J. A. (6 September 2002). "Quick and Magical Shaper of Science". Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 15 August 2012.

Online editions

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