While the Canterville ghost fails to frighten the Otis family, he has enjoyed far greater successes during his long career. In the opening chapter of the story, for instance, Lord Canterville talks about one of the ghost's most famous hauntings: that of his aunt, the Dowager Duchess of Bolton. The ghost appeared to the Duchess by placing his "skeleton hands" on her shoulders as she was getting ready for dinner. When she saw his hands in the mirror, she was understandably "frightened into a fit."
Similarly, in Chapter Two, the Canterville ghost remembers his haunting of Madame de Tremouillac. He appeared to her as a skeleton seated in an armchair and reading her diary. She was so terrified that she suffered an "attack of brain fever" which confined her to bed for six weeks. When she recovered, she was "reconciled to the Church" and ended her "connection with that notorious sceptic, Monsieur de Voltaire."
Finally, in this same chapter, the reader learns about "the beautiful" Lady Stutfield whom the ghost tried to strangle. The ghost's fingers left burn marks on her neck, forcing the lady to always wear a "velvet band" around her neck to hide them. Later, she committed suicide by drowning herself in a pond.
As these incidents show, the Canterville ghost has committed some wicked deeds to the residents of the house. The arrival of the Otis family, however, brings this career to an abrupt halt.