As with his other plays, Henrik Ibsen wrote Ghosts in Danish, the common written language of Denmark and Norway. The original title, in both Danish and Norwegian, is Gengangere, which can be literally translated as "again walkers", "ones who return", or "revenants". It has a double meaning of both "ghosts" and "events that repeat themselves", so the English title Ghosts fails to capture this double meaning.
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.