Virginia Woolf, “Sterne's Ghost,” The Nation and the Athenæum, November 7, 1925. pp. 

THAT men have ghosts; that ghosts revisit the 
places where life ran quickest; that Sterne there-
fore haunts no churchyard, but the room where 
“Tristram Shandy” was written—all this may be taken 
for granted; even if we find it no such easy matter to 
decide in what mood and with what motives the ghost 
of Sterne beat regularly at midnight upon the wall of 
Mrs. Simpson's best bedroom in Stonegate, York.
Mrs. Simpson made no secret of the matter, which 
perhaps was too notorious to be concealed. Owing to the 
ghost, she told the young Mathews, she would let the 
rooms, large as they were and convenient for the theatre, 
very cheap indeed, and perceiving something in Mrs. 
Mathews' aspect which made her think her, as indeed 
she was, “a candidate for literary gains,” she added 
how it was in this room and at that table that a very 
famous book called “Tristram Shandy” was written, 

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she believed, some forty years before. Even without its 
literary associations the cheapness of the lodging was 
enough to excuse the ghost, for the young Mathews were 
extremely poor—Charles acting at a salary of twenty-
five shillings a week in Tate Wilkinson's company, but 
Tate did not scruple to tell him that with his screwed-
up face and threadpaper body he had better keep a shop 
than go upon the stage, while poor Eliza, the girl whom 
Charles had married, out of pity, the second Mrs. 
Mathews said, without “really loving her,” had not a 
penny to her name, which happened to be Strong. And 
Strong she had need to be, said Charles's father, strong 
in character, strong in health, strong in principles, 
strong in affections, if she became the wife of the mis-
guided boy who so wantonly preferred the stage and all 
its evils to selling serious books to saintly personages in 
the Strand. But Eliza herself was conscious of one
source of strength only (besides that she was very much