My dissertation was called “Textual Ghosts,” and the first chapter was about ghost pamphlets. In the post-1641 publication boom, ghost pamphlets started getting woodcuts for their title pages, providing a recognizable iconography of ghostliness that included shrouds and torches. (Today we still use sheets as shrouds if we want to dress up as ghosts, but we’ve apparently decided to abandon torches in favor of not getting burned in horrible torch/shroud accidents.)
In honor of Halloween, have some of my favorite images from my searches into early modern ghosts.
Sources: All images were accessed via Early English Books Online through the Renaissance Society of America.
Rachel Clark is Assistant Professor of English at Wartburg College. She teaches courses in British literature, as well as film and composition. Her research focuses on seventeenth-century English literature, including Shakespeare and his contemporaries.