A ghostly card game? During Christmas times? Yes! Charlotte Riddel was a well known writer of her Victorian times, at least, her stories was as she published them under a mans name. Published in 1863.
This is the case of the Greenbrier ghost, the ghost that went to court. She is now resting in a cemetery near Lewisburg in West Virginia, USA. And she is known as the only ghost that have testified in her own murder trial in the American judicial system.
Penny Dreadful is an old term used during the nineteenth century to refer to cheap popular serial literature. Sort of like pulp fiction. It was also called penny blood, penny awful, or penny horrible. It means a story published in weekly parts, with the cost of one (old) penny. The main plot of these stories were typically sensational, focusing on the adventures of detectives, criminals, or supernatural entities.
This is exactly what Penny Dreadful was, and what it payed homage to. So we found some old stuff the series borrowed or was inspired by. And there is A LOT.