Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Mediumistic or mad?—the precarious position of women who dared to be spiritualists

Why the Victorians saw ghosts: ten



Mrs Georgina Weldon (neé Thomas, 1837-1914) was one of those extraordinary, larger-than-life characters, London-born to landed gentry but with a fair soprano voice and a sense of theatre fairly pumping through her veins. Though she married for love in 1860, she soon found her talents stifled by her husband, William, who forbade her the professional life she craved and demanded she only appear in amateur theatrics and at charity benefits. In the fourth year of their marriage, which had fast turned loveless, William took a mistress to whom he stayed faithful for the rest of his life.



By the end of the 1860s Georgina's amateur croonings had fallen somewhat out of favour and her marriage was in trouble. She conceived a plan to open a musical training school for poor orphaned children, which she did in 1870, based in her own home, Tavistock House in Bloomsbury. Tavistock House was the perfect venue for such a venture: Charles Dickens, one of its previous occupants, had added a small theatre with its own stage. Georgina had some progressive ideas regarding the education of her orphans. In addition to allowing them to run barefoot for a quarter of an hour each day, they were to be taught singing, dancing and recitation from the earliest age, raised on a vegetarian diet, encouraged to join her in her amateur séances, and taken to see opera. In return they were to pay for their keep by performing at key society events—twee musical programmes that would include a recitation of the history of the orphanage—where the whole troop would arrive in a horse and wagon with the words "Mrs Weldon's Sociable Evenings" plastered along the side. Think of Rosalind Russell's stage-mother character in the 1965 film Gypsy and you'll get the idea.

Extraordinary offer

My author website turns one

My official website, www.michaelgallagherwrites.com, has been up and running for one whole year. Visit the “My Shout” page throughout April and you can download these novels for free:

The Bridge of Dead Things


Murky Victorian London. 13-year-old Lizzie Blaylock is having a rough time. Her dad’s been fired, her sister has tuberculosis, and she just had some sort of fit at school for which she’s been expelled. When she has another fit, however, she and those around her slowly begin to realize that she may have special powers…powers to communicate with the dead.

Cover photographs by Captain Console, Harris & Ewing, Inc, and whatsthatpicure
Cover design by Negative Negative
Jacket description by Monica F
Published by Seventh Rainbow Publishing, London
RRP: US$5.99; UK£4.99
Available now at Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, and all major online stores

The Scarab Heart


Theft and murder are afoot at an archeological dig in 1885 Egypt. Lizzie Blaylock, world renowned ghost channeler, and her mentor, Miss Otis, thought they were simply there to vacation, especially as Lizzie wants nothing more to do with her powers. Her powers, though, have other things in mind.

Cover photographs by Neithsabes, Marc Ryckaert, Daniel Csörföly, Harris & Ewing, Inc, and whatsthatpicure
Cover design by Negative Negative
Jacket description by Monica F
Published by Seventh Rainbow Publishing, London
RRP: US$5.99; UK£4.99
Available now at Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, and all major online stores



Praise for Michael Gallagher:
This was SO good!...Gallagher always does his homework and you can feel how much he loves this era and these characters.”—Keenchris, LibraryThing Early Reviewers (5 stars)

“[A] fantastically detailed historical fiction novel ~ rich with period details from 1800 London, colorful characters, AND a very gripping ghostly tale...This is a well written, entertaining story about a young girl who has powers she doesn't understand...I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction, or a good thriller. Read this book, you will not be disappointed.”—Paula Fetty-King, Smashwords Reviewer (5 stars)

...I'm a bit of a Victorian buff and reenactor, and the details, dialog, and characters are all appropriate to the period...My initial interest was...[as] designated "pre-reader" for my 8 grandchildren, this book has plenty of depth and complexity to keep the adults interested as well.”—Emilious Tarr, Smashwords Reviewer (5 stars)

I was amazed by the authors accurate depiction of the 1800s. He does it in a way that you feel as though you are back in time.”—Melissa P., LibraryThing Early Reviewers (5 stars)

Download Why the Victorians Saw Ghosts for free


The book inspired by this blog is available now: Why the Victorians Saw Ghosts – An Illustrated Guide to 19th Century Spiritualism normally retails for US$2.99 in most online stores, but you can download it for free at Smashwords.com. Just click on this link. You set the price, so make sure you set it at zero. If you haven’t used Smashwords yet, it really is friendly, easy to join, and free.

Michael Gallagher is the author of The Bridge of Dead Things and The Scarab Heart.