The Sorcerer of Kings: The Case of Daniel Dunglas Home and William Crookes

Overview

In 1848 the Fox sisters, living near Rochester, New York, began modern spiritualism by producing a series of "raps" or "knocks", supposedly from the spirit world, through which communication could be maintained. The public's interest was captured, and soon an overwhelming desire to communicate with departed loved ones led to the devising of other methods of communicating with the spirits.

Spiritualism spread rapidly both in Britain and in the United States, with mediums setting ...

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Overview

In 1848 the Fox sisters, living near Rochester, New York, began modern spiritualism by producing a series of "raps" or "knocks", supposedly from the spirit world, through which communication could be maintained. The public's interest was captured, and soon an overwhelming desire to communicate with departed loved ones led to the devising of other methods of communicating with the spirits.

Spiritualism spread rapidly both in Britain and in the United States, with mediums setting up shop everywhere. Some mediums were obvious charlatans, while others were highly skilled conjurors. Some sincerely believed they had psychic power. Gradually, a number of the more skillful mediums gained reputations that brought them national and international fame. Among these "superstars" was Daniel Dunglas Home, recognized as one of the finest mediums of the nineteenth-century.

Scientists of the time remained aloof about the phenomena of spiritualism, unwilling to attend seances or examine the phenomena under controlled conditions. A rare exception was Sir William Crookes, a chemist and physicist who was roundly ridiculed by many of his fellow scientists for his five-year investigation of a number of important spiritualists and mediums, including Daniel Dunglas Home, Florence Cook, and Anna Eva Fay. Although many were later proven to be frauds, Daniel Dunglas Home was able to escape detection - until now.

The Sorcerer of Kings takes readers inside the testing procedures of Crookes to explore just what his investigation entailed. What made Sir William a believer? How could so many other mediums fall victim to their own gimmicks, while Home successfully overcame efforts to expose him? Noted researcher Gordon Stein unwraps this century-old mystery to reach startling new conclusions about a man whose "powers" were eagerly sought on two continents, and the man of science who attempted to find him out once and for all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this intriguing story of spiritualism, Stein ( Encyclopedia of Unbelief ), a student of the occult and paranormal, recounts and exposes the careers of the famous British Victorian medium Daniel Dunglas Home who, the author claims, duped the brilliant chemist William Crookes. After examining Home's performances, Crookes publicly declared them genuine to a 19th-century society avid for proofs of an afterlife and communication with the dead. Stein describes how Home, a shrewd, fashionable society lion, performed magic tricks and psychological manipulation of his devoted followers, including levitation, table raps, ``spirit'' hands, etc. As for Crookes, he is portrayed as torn between science and his own need to believe in an afterlife, especially after the death of a beloved younger brother. Spiritualism, the author guardedly concludes, is an ``unverified, religious outlook.'' (Dec.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879758639
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 6/28/1993
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface: Spiritualism, A Short Background
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Home, Crookes, and Cook
Pt. 1 Florence Cook: The Medium
Pt. 2 Sir William Crookes: The Scientist
Pt. 3 Daniel Dunglas Home: The Medium
Pt. 4 Conclusions
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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