Thursday, 27 November 2014

Download Why the Victorians Saw Ghosts for free


The book of 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 find details on the My Shout page of my website, Michael Gallagher Writes, which will allow you to download it for free.

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


Overwhelming works commitments

I am sorry to announce that, due to overwhelming work commitments, I have had to delay the next set of promised articles, How the Victorians Stole Egypt, indefinitely. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

The end of an era—a brave new century dawns

Why the Victorians saw ghosts: twelve



On the 23rd of September 2004 I was lucky enough to attend a recreation of a Victorian séance organized by the British psychologist Richard Wiseman at the Dana Center in London, a venue dedicated to encouraging ordinary people to think and talk about science. Approximately fifty of us sat around an enormous round table holding hands, and, as the lights dimmed, we were treated to an orchestrated evening of raps and knocks, and at one point a thump from the middle of the table which was so unexpected that many of us jumped in our seats. But the event was only ever partially successful because we all expected something to happen, and, armed with our noughties skepticism, nobody imagined for one instant that the sounds were produced by any supernatural agency. We were a particularly tough audience.

Twelve years prior to this in 1992, Wiseman had made a study of the last of the great Victorian mediums, Eusapia Palladino. Born of Italian peasant stock, her first husband was a conjurer, and the second a wine merchant. Yet it is the second husband who is fingered as her accomplice, entering the darkened séance room via a secret panel and assisting Palladino in her catalog of tricks: levitating tables, making objects appear to move, partial materializations of hands and faces, plus the normal gamut of ghostly pinching, touching and kicks.