Discover what these famed female spooks can teach you about an empowered life after death
Aren’t female phantoms a mournful lot – always floating around, wringing their hands over a lost love? Not true! Certain spectral madams are said to stalk the earth with just as much bravado as they did in life. Never ones to be passive and obedient while living – why would that change in the afterlife? Not content to hide in the shadows, this selection of famous female ghosts are as feisty in death as they were in life.
Girl ghoul #1 – Queen Anne Boleyn
More than just a pretty face, she captivated Britain’s most notoriously fickle monarch with her love of learning and razor-sharp wit. Proficient in French, art, literature, poetry, music and religious philosophy, the woman was no intellectual slouch. She had opinions and wasn’t afraid to voice them. Unfortunately for Anne, her relationship was deadly toxic. Her homicidal husband, King Henry VIII, lopped off her head. Not so empowered, you might think. But Anne had the last laugh – from beyond the grave. It was her daughter, not Henry’s longed-for son, who became one of the world’s most powerful women: Queen Elizabeth I. Roaming her old stomping grounds, Anne’s ghost has been reportedly seen at the Tower of London, Hever Castle, Blickling Hall, Salle Church and Marwell Hall, making her presence known and ensuring she’ll never be forgotten.
Girl ghoul #2 – First Lady Dolley Madison
She had style, she had grace – Dolley was the original iron-willed First Lady who transformed Washington, D.C. from economic backwater to top destination for the political power crowd. Wife of the fourth president of the United States, she was celebrated for her bravery when Washington was invaded. Even more impressive, she was no pampered rich girl, contending with a strict upbringing and an alcoholic first husband before she became an American trendsetter. A shrewd social operator, Dolley threw the best parties. She also put her aesthetic stamp on the interior design of the White House. So it’s fitting that she still keeps a watchful eye over proceedings more than 150 years after her death. Her spirit has been sighted gliding regally through the main ballroom in the Octagon House and towards the gardens, accompanied by the smell of lilacs, her favourite flower.
Girl ghoul #3 – Flapper girl, Olive Thomas
Blazing a trail for independent young women, Olive was a sensation in the straight-laced 1920s. Becoming a leading lady of silent films, this good-time girl had a hard-partying lifestyle to match her success. It all came to an end at the tender age of 25, when she took a swig of medicine she’d mistaken for bootleg alcohol. But Olive was not ready to leave the limelight. Her apparition supposedly continues to appear at the Broadway theatre where she often performed. Still having a good time, Olive materialise at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York, wearing a stylish emerald green beaded dress with matching headband, and holding a blue liquor bottle. It’s been reported she likes to flirt with handsome men, saying, ‘Well, hello!’ She’s such an accepted spectre that staff apparently never close the theatre without saying, ‘Goodnight Olive’ to the glamorous resident ghost.
Girl ghoul #4 – Brown Lady of Raynham Hall
Star of one of the most iconic ghost photos of all time, this long-deceased Lady is pictured mistily gliding her way down the sumptuous staircase of Raynham Hall in Norfolk, wearing a brown brocade dress. Thought to be the spirit of Lady Dorothy Walpole, sister of Robert Walpole (Britain’s first Prime Minister), and the wife of 18th century politician, Viscount Charles Townshend – a man with a mean streak. Bored housewife Dorothy sought comfort in a local dashing lord. Unfortunately the lovers were rumbled and the Viscount locked his wife away at Raynham Hall until her death. Now the ghostly Dorothy is free to roam and she’s said to relish frightening visitors in her former home with her luminescent skin and empty eye-sockets. And, just maybe, she has provided the ultimate photographic evidence that ghosts do exist?
Girl ghoul #5 – Resurrection Mary
A version of the vanishing hitchhiker ghost story, Mary is a pretty teenager with light blonde hair and blue eyes who wears a white party dress and ballerina pumps. She’s looking for a lift home after a night of dancing. The problem is that Mary has been dead since the 1930s. Many places have their own versions of the ghostly Mary, but witness reports are most frequent from the little town of Justice, Illinois in the USA. Not one to be shy, Mary hails a taxi or thumbs a ride towards Resurrection Cemetery. But as you drive past the gates of the cemetery, Mary vanishes from your car. She’s said to be the spirit of a young girl who was hit by a car and killed after a night at a local dancehall. Now Mary just can’t stop living her last night of partying – over and over again…
Girl ghoul #6 – La Planchada
This friendly Mexican ghost turned heartbreak into heavenly help. La Planchada was a nurse at Hospital Juarez in Mexico City – her name refers to her stiffly starched early 20th century nurse’s uniform. A love affair with a doctor turned sour when he abandoned her to wed someone else. La Planchada’s work suffered following her heartache and a patient died because of her mistake. The nurse became ill and died shortly after. But La Planchada turned a sorry story into a beacon of empowerment after her death. Her spirit remains at the hospital, supposedly tending to patients. People in intensive care have even reported a nurse in an old fashioned uniform coming to care for them during the night.