Ibsen originally wrote the play in Danish, with the title, Gengangere. The Norwegian word is Gjengangere, which can be literally translated as "again walkers", or "ones who return," or "revenants", Norwegians also use this term for people who frequent the same places, whether pubs, parties, opening nights, or other occasions, so it has a different meaning and connotation than the English word "ghosts".
Ibsen wrote Ghosts during the autumn of 1881 and published it in December of the same year. As early as November 1880, when he was living in Rome, Ibsen was meditating on a new play to follow A Doll's House. When he went to Sorrento, in the summer of 1881, he was hard at work upon it. He finished it by the end of November 1881 and published it in Copenhagen on 13 December. Its world stage première was on 20 May 1882 in Norwegian by a Danish company in Chicago, Illinois.