10 Literary Haunts That Are Haunted

These creepy bookish locales are sure to pique the interest of readers and you don’t have to go far to see ghosts or a demon hound that got in the way of one very famous and persnickety detective.

The Real Phantom of the Opera

The labryrinth that is The Palais Garnier (or the Garnier Opera) in Paris, France may be the most famous opera house in the world thanks to Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera (1910). There really is a lake under the building (!) and trap doors, some of which employees of the opera house don’t believe have been discovered yet. Leroux’s life as a courtroom reporter was wrapped up in the comings and goings in the early days of its use. So much so that people believe he knew the name of the ghost. One of the original architects (named Eric) really did go missing somewhere in the opera house after insisting that he live in the basement during the construction. He was never found.

Dylan Thomas Has a Bad Night

The White Horse Tavern in New York City began its days in the 1800’s as a watering hole for dock workers but when the 1950’s hit, you saw all sorts of now famous literary figures such as Hunter S. Thompson and James Baldwin. However, only Dylan Thomas left it with a ghost story.

In 1953, Mr. Thomas spent one very productive night drinking, eventually stumbling out of the door and boasting, “I’ve had 18 straight whiskies. I think that’s the record!” He died shortly later and though the official cause of death was listed as pneumonia, I’m pretty sure that the mass quantities of alcohol didn’t help. Patrons say that they can still see his ghost looking for his regular table.

 The White Horse Tavern 567 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

James Thurber’s Lunatic Asylum

Famous funnyman writer James Thurber’s simple Victorian house is like any other when you look at it but thanks to volunteers and generous donations, it survives as a beacon to writers, an homage to Thurber, and a sanctuary for crazy ghosts.

The Ohio Lunatic Asylum once sat right where the house is now but in 1868 it burned to the ground, killing seven people who are said to still haunt the grounds and even inspiring the writer when he lived there. His family would hear footsteps day and night and when they came close to the noise, the footsteps would cease. They say that even today books throw themselves at people and honestly, that’s my kind of ghost.

 You can plan your tour through this cursed house HERE.

Twain, Dickens, and a Dead Lawyer

Now you’re in my neck of the woods. Ohio’s oldest inn and restaurant is a literary gem. Yes, I’ve spent the night there and yes, despite not believing in ghosts, I heard noises in the hallways (there were no other lodgers) and behind boarded up, unused doors. The ghost is said to be that of a 19th century lawyer who, while trying to prove his client’s innocence in front of his lawyer friends, accidentally shot himself in the head. The hotel is open for visitors and even during the day you can feel someone watching you in the upstairs dining room where he shot himself.

Besides this ghostly business, there have been many esteemed guests and the rooms are all named after them. Charles Dickens dined there and Mark Twain was said to have visited. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s family was prevalent in the area, her sister being one of the first teachers in Lebanon.

Book a night at The Golden Lamb HERE.

The Witching Hour

It’s true that in New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No 1 has the reputation of being the oddest cemetery, even holding a voodoo priestess. However, the most haunted cemetery with a wealth of bookish pedigree is Lafayette Cemetery No 1.

With reported zombies and victims of yellow fever buried there, it is said to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in America. Very few people dare venture near the site after sunset. Anne Rice, the patron saint of New Orleans, has given this graveyard gusto with a shout out in The Witching Hour. She also rode in a glass coffin among the tombstones during the big reveal of Memnoch the Devil.

Plan your visit to the graveyard HERE.

The Hounds of England

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is one of the scariest cases for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and we have two spectral hounds to thank for that.

Peel Castle, located on England’s Isle of Man, is a 11th century fortress that has been haunted by a nocturnal “devil dog” named, Moddey Dhoo, for hundreds of years. Upon seeing this phantom hound, the size of a large calf with glowing eyes, you are supposed to die shortly after if not killed by the dog itself. It wanders the halls of the castle and guards its grounds.

In Dartmoor, the legend is more familiar to readers. A huntsman who sold his soul to the devil is said to ride the countryside with the devil’s hounds who will tear to shreds anyone they come across on the moor.

Hemingway’s Happy Place

Hemingway lived in many locations throughout the world, including Cuba and Africa, and lived with many, many women but no house held his heart like his home in Key West and that is where his spirit is apparently residing.

Despite having committed suicide in Idaho, Ernest Hemingway’s ghost has been seen multiple times at his beloved Key West house that he shared with his second wife, Pauline, who is also said to have never left. People have seen him looking out of the second floor window at midnight and can hear the sound of a typewriter in one of the rooms.

A Hotel in the Middle of Nowhere

It’s like the chicken or the egg. Was the Stanley Hotel haunted before Stephen King wrote about it or is it haunted because Stephen King wrote about it? Never the less, the bestseller, The Shining, all came about after King and his wife Tabby had the creepiest hotel stay ever.

Mr. and Mrs. King happened to be the only visitors right before the hotel shut up for the season. That meant they had the place to themselves and the only table in the large ballroom restaurant, filled with eerie music. Today, guests say they hear a piano where there is no piano and see lights turn on and off for no reason. The hotel has a sense of humor about it now and supposedly they are building a replica of the garden maze from the novel.

The Catacombs of Baltimore

You don’t have to fly to Paris to take a tour of an underground maze full of unburied bodies and coffins. Baltimore, the mecca of all things Edgar Allan Poe, has The Westminster Hall and Burying Ground a.k.a. the Western Burial Ground. A graveyard since 1787, the land boasts a who’s who of senators and congressmen but no one brings in the crowds like Poe who is buried there with his sweetheart, Virginia Clemm Poe.

Underneath the church there are tunnels and catacombs still to this day. Between the years 1890 and 1920, there were a rash of suicides. People who were visiting the underground would kill themselves down there and this phenomenon has never been explained. Today people say they can hear whispers when they are in the tombs. Starting in the 1930’s, a man called The Phantom Toaster would appear in the graveyard at night, on Poe’s birthday, dressed in black with his face covered by a hood or scarf. He carried a silver tipped cane and toasted the grave with cognac, leaving three red roses on the monument. But as mysteriously as he appeared, in 2009 he disappeared, leaving no clues to his identity.


The Best Place for Halloween

Old buildings can be scary and there is hardly any town in America with buildings older than those in Sleepy Hollow, NY, made famous by Washington Irving’s brilliantly terrifying tale of the Headless Horseman. Still considered the most haunted place in the world, Sleepy Hollow remains a village with a small population and buildings that date back to the 1600’s. This is THE place to go for Halloween and it’s totally on my bucket list. The gnarled forests are horror movie quality and they celebrate their spooks and ghosts with parades and celebrations. You know those crazy old tombstones with skulls and cherubs scrawled all over them? Yep, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery’s got ‘em.

Nicolina Torres
Nicolina Torres

Nikki worked for Barnes & Noble for 15 years, in seven stores. She is the author of This Red Fire, Young Nation, and Girls Who Wear Glasses. She prefers to live in the country and is a new aunt to a potential bookworm.

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