illustration of a ghost standing behid an iron fence with its arm raised against a large mansion

The Canterville Ghost

by Oscar Wilde

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What is the backstory of the ghost in "The Canterville Ghost"?

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The ghost that your question is referencing is Sir Simon de Canterville.  He was one of the first owners of the Canterville Chase, which is the mansion that the Otis family has just bought.  The text tells the reader that Sir Simon owned the home in 1575.  He was married at the time, but wasn't married for the following nine years.  The reason for that is because Sir Simon murdered his wife that year.  He lived for another 9 years after that, disappeared mysteriously, and was never seen or heard from again.  

"His body has never been discovered, but his guilty spirit still haunts the Chase."

Sir Simon has been haunting the Canterville Chase ever since, and has successfully scared off every owner.  That is until the Otis family arrives, and he is incapable of scaring them off.  Virginia Otis eventually gets Sir Simon to explain why he mysteriously disappeared.  

Sir Simon killed his wife for being too plain. Of course her brothers didn't take too kindly to Sir Simon killing their sister, so they killed Sir Simon in revenge.  

"However, it is no matter now, for it is all over, and I don't think it was very nice of her brothers to starve me to death, though I did kill her."

He has been haunting the house ever since his own murder. 

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