This paper investigates the connection between the spiritualist movement and the literary ghost story, both of which came to prominence during the second half of the nineteenth century. While existing critical literature has viewed both phenomena as symptoms of a wider Victorian fascination with the supernatural and the possibility of an afterlife, little attention has been paid to the relationship between them. This paper argues for a fresh understanding of the post-1850 ghost story, one that reads the appearance, behavior, and agency of literary ghosts as a dramatic representation of a new conception of the dead—a conception created largely by spiritualism.