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Observations placeholder

Mary Boyle's ghost story



Type of Spiritual Experience

Inter composer communication

Number of hallucinations: 1


A description of the experience

Marchioness Townshend & Maude Ffoulkes True Ghost Stories 

There was a short space between Mrs. Boyle's bedroom door and that of Mary's sister, which were placed at right angles to each other in a corner of Mary's room, and every night for four months she saw the figure of a woman pass through these doors, which were always left open.

The young girl was not afraid when she first saw the form in the uncertain light. Its outlines and movements registered Youth, and, thinking it might be her sister, she called her, but, receiving no answer, she decided that she had not been heard. The figure came again. Mary paid little, if any, attention to its visits. There were four women, beside herself in the flat - it might easily be one of them - but afterwards she gradually became attracted by the peculiar gliding movement of the unknown wanderer, whilst the fact that she never received any answer to the inevitable question "'Who's there?" considerably puzzled her. One night when the figure made its usual appearance, Mary, taking her courage in both hands, jumped out of bed, and followed the figure as it went into her sister's room. It vanished on the threshold, and the mystery of its identity remained a mystery.

Again and again Mary followed the form, and at last she confided her adventure to her mother, hoping to find out whether Mrs. or Miss Boyle had also seen the "ghost". Her questioning was brushed aside.

"My dear Mary," said Mrs. Boyle, "you are talking nonsense! How could anyone possibly come night after night into your sister's bedroom without her knowledge? Your ghost is probably a reflection thrown by something outside. Don't let your mind dwell on such things."

Mary said: "I'm not frightened only curious." "This kind of curiosity is ill-advised," replied her mother "and please remember not to breathe a word of this to anyone. Our Roman servants were fanciful enough in all conscience, but Neapolitans seem to be the last word in ignorant credulity."

A little offended and "snubbed" by Mrs. Boyle's want of sympathy, Mary did not allude again to the mysterious figure. As she said, she was not frightened, and she began to think the whole thing was a freak of imagination, until she heard the well-known rustle, and saw "Her" pass through the accustomed door.

As the summer, even for Naples, was exceptionally hot, Mrs. Boyle changed her bedroom for one with a cooler aspect, and Mary, who had moved into her mother's room, wondered if the figure would appear to her there. To quote her own words:

"Yes, every night: the hour varied, as was my time for going to bed, but the visit was certain.". . . .

“The Signorina is the only person in the Palazzo who has actually seen the ghost. It is a sad story. In the very room occupied by the Signorina, a young English lady died broken-hearted for love of the (then) Prince of Capua.”

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Being a child



Townshend, G. & FFoulkes, M., (1936) True Ghost Stories, London:Senate