Ghost Writers

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Ghost Writers

Hot off the Project Gutenberg presses: A Book Written by the Spirits of the So-Called Dead by C.G. Helleberg.

A small stand of the ordinary kind in construction, covered by a table cloth, was used, the medium placing with one hand under the covering of the stand a slate on which was placed a small piece of pencil. The other hand of the medium was continually exposed to full view, as was also her entire form. Both double and single slates were used. We heard the writing as it progressed, and when the slate was filled it would be indicated by distinct taps on the slate and the dropping of the pencil. The slate would be then taken out, and as the chosen scribe I would faithfully transcribe the written matter into the book aforementioned, and the slate would then be cleaned and returned under the stand, and in this manner all the matter hereinafter set forth was produced.

Published in 1883, this book fell about halfway through the Spiritualist craze (reported by wikipedia to be from the 1840’s to the 1920’s).


The Medium – Ms. Green

Find out about the inhabitants of other planets, a dead medium whose spirit arranges her own funeral, and even communications from both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln!  All from a handful of crazy old ladies.  And, lest I forget, the compelling story of a spirit who peels and eats part of a banana, then splits the remainder into four equal parts!

As fun as reading some of this is bound to be, it’s interesting to think that there are those who believed then, and believe now, that such antics are legitimate.  Spiritualist churches are still in existence, though…

…The practice of organized Spiritualism today resembles that of any other religion, having discarded most showmanship, particularly those elements resembling the conjurer’s art. There is thus a much greater emphasis on “mental” mediumship and an almost complete avoidance of the apparently miraculous “materializing” mediumship that so fascinated early believers such as Arthur Conan Doyle…

To each their own, as always.

May 1st, 2011|Categories: Books|Tags: , , , |5 Comments


  1. bmj2k May 1, 2011 at 4:18 PM - Reply

    Nice post!
    Interesting that Houdini and Doyle fell on opposite sides. You’d think the creator of Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t be a believer but if you read some of his other works it isn’t that much of a surprise.

  2. Jim May 1, 2011 at 4:36 PM - Reply

    Just reading up on Houdini…. Apparently the two were friends until Houdini’s debunking of psychics and mediums soured the friendship. Doyle claimed it was through paranormal abilities that Houdini was able to perform his stunts. Sounds like Doyle was really into the stuff.

  3. skinner May 2, 2011 at 12:11 PM - Reply

    Fantastic post, Jim. I’ve queued the book up on my iPhone.

    It doesn’t surprise me much to hear about Doyle’s interest – his involvement with the Cottingley fairies has always bothered me a little. I guess it goes to show that even the smartest of fellows needs to keep their BS detector on at all times.

  4. bmj2k May 5, 2011 at 11:54 PM - Reply

    Oh, he was so far into believing in those paper cut outs it is sad.

  5. Jim May 7, 2011 at 6:38 PM - Reply

    Didn’t those fairies stump a film lab at the time as well?

    Maybe Doyle’s wishful thinking overpowered his good reason.

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