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Dickens founded a tradition of ghostly Christmas stories that's still alive and well on our TV screens. Just don't let Jonathan Creek anywhere near it

By Peter Bazalgette   February 2009

Why does Christmas have to be white? Because, as we know, Charles Dickens decreed it. Why do telly folk schedule ghost stories at Christmas? Because, once again, Dickens kicked off the tradition. In 1843 he published A Christmas Carol, the first of his five Christmas books—a wildly successful series that went on to include the equally spooky The Haunted Man and The Chimes. There’s something almost jocular about Dickens’s tales, though, and I prefer the darker efforts of those who came later, many of which are metaphors for mental illness or sexual repression. Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw…

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