Listen to Dominic Gerrard read 'Anecdote'.

Eighteen lines of Brachygraphy shorthand characters written in pencil fill the page of a notebook with 'Anecdote' written in longhand at the top. In the top right corner is the number ten, indicating the page number.

'Anecdote' Part 1. Courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Ten lines of Brachygraphy shorthand characters written in pencil fill half of a notebook page. Underneath the tenth line is a long horizontal line, indicating the end of the exercise. Underneath this are a few scattered shorthand characters, some repeated. In the top right corner is the number eight, indicating the page number.

'Anecdote' Part 2. Courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.


The shorthand notebooks of Charles Dickens and Arthur P. Stone [ref: cdc5890009_12 and cdc5890009_10], Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia.


A ghost story written in shorthand about a student prank gone wrong, featuring a ghost in green.


There is a story related, I think, by Cole which always struck me to be one of the best of ghost stories. Thus the story runs:

Once upon a time there was a German student extremely popular with his companions and quite the life of his university. No one fenced better, sang better, danced better, did anything better than he. Suddenly it was noticed that his whole appearance changed. He became melancholy, silent, worn and dejected. After a time, one of the student body who had always been his intimate friend was deputed to speak to him on the subject of this strange alteration in him. It was very difficult to induce him to open his lips but after a long time and much pressing, he said, "Know then, I am every night pursued by a phantom. When the city clock(s) strike/struck 12 it emerges from the closet in my room opposite the foot of the bed and stands there until morning." In reply to the question how this spectre was dressed, he said in green, with a high-crowned green hat. The student returned to his companions and they arranged among themselves that one of their number should be thus dressed and should be concealed in the place in question. After appearing and being supposed by the afflicted student to be the ghost, he would then reveal himself and so work his cure. Under this guise, on a certain night, the student was hidden in the ghost's place with instructions to come forth when the city clock(s) struck 12. As the hour approached, he saw from his concealment that the sleeping student became frightfully agitated. When it struck and the other emerged, he raised himself in/on his bed with a distorted face, marked/wracked with every possible expression of horror, cried out in agony "My God, there are two", fell back and died.

Source text

To date, no direct source text has been identified.

Transcription credits

With thanks to: Amy D, Clarissa Parkinson, D.V., Elizabeth Agnew, Frances T, Jenn Fallon, Ken Cox, L. P. Wist, Lynda Chater, and Shane Baggs.


Courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Please seek further permission from the Free Library to reuse these images.