A compelling history of the golden era of the Victorian seance that tells the tale of the mediums and psychics, their followers, and the sleuths who set out to expose them
Born of the so-called Victorian ‘pseudo science’ of mesmerism, the séance enjoyed a late 19th century golden age that ministered to the Victorian obsession with science, religious doubt, and entertainment.
Mediums, psychics and somnambulists were investigated by amateur sleuths and by scientists like Faraday and Darwin; their performances imitated and exposed by magicians, denounced by clerics, satirised in the press. Yet the popularity of spiritualism and the séance endured – and does so to this day.
Antonio Melechi is a Visiting Fellow at the University of York and the author of Fugitive Minds
ReviewsServants of the Supernatural
takes us on a joyously weird
circuit of the Victorian obsession with the supernatural... Riotously enjoyable
... brings to life the wonderfully flamboyant cheats and frauds of the 19th century medium trade... His tale stands beautifully as a reminder to choose one’s beliefs carefully,Lustrous...
the heyday of the Victorian séance in all its table-trembling, tambourine-tapping glory.,[An] engrossing
account of séances, mesmerism and mediums.,The story of the Victorian obsession with séances, spirit writing, communing with the dead and all the showmanship that went with it…Melechi tells it well and wittily.,Fascinating