9) STRANGE VISITORS: A series of Original Papers by Authors Now Dwelling in the Spirit World. By Anon. Dictated through a Clairvoyant While in an Abnormal Trace State. First edition, first printing published by Carleton, New York, 1869.
With an Introduction by Henry J Horn. 249pp, Vg; An solidly bound volume in the publisher’s original green pebble cloth with blind-stamped publisher’s devices to the upper and lower boards, bevelled edges and gilt titles to the spine. Light wear to the corners and to the spine tips otherwise a very clean, fresh copy, gilt stamping is still very bright. Original Plum Endpapers, light toning to prelim’s otherwise tightly bound and very clean internally.
An obscure publication which claims that ‘A Clairvoyant’ (un-named) was able, when in ‘an abnormal or trance condition’ to communicate with the spirits of a number of well known individuals from the literary world. Through a form of ‘automatic writing’ the Clairvoyant whilst in trance state wrote a number of papers which were dictated to her by the Spirits of Lord Byron, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Barrett Browning to name a few.
The major contribution was from the Spirit of Charlotte Brontë who dictated the novella ‘Agnes Reef’, Edgar Allan Poe’s Ghost dictated the poem ‘The Lost Soul’, Nathaniel Hawthorne the short story ‘Apparitions’, Thackeray’s Spirit gives us the short story ‘His Post Mortem Experience’ Adelaide Proctor contributes the poem ‘The Spirit Bride’ and Lord Byron offers a beyond the grave Poetic RANT at ‘His Accusers’ as well as many other spiritual musings from dead/undead writers.
This copy was acquired from the Brontë Parsonage who have included the story ‘Agnes Reef’ in their catalogue and added the note ‘It is not know if these stories and poems are actually written by the authors? You would presume the whole thing to be a Hoax I would have thought feeding into the general Victorian reader’s appetite for lapping this stuff up! However…it is noted that the writing is of such a high quality (in the case of the ‘Brontë’ story particularly) that the Parsonage have not dismissed it as being written by her!! Carleton infact published many of The Brontë Sisters actual Works in New York, wouldn’t they have had legal action taken against them for publishing rogue stories under her name? The Poe poem to be seems to be a riff on ‘The Bells’ and a few of the other short stories certainly have depth and quality. So if not dictated through a medium by the Ghosts of these Great Writers, then who did write them???
It’s a fascinating oddity, you can’t help but picture the scene, Velvet Table Cloth, Flickering Candles, and the sounds of manic scratching as the Clairvoyant announces that the dead Mr Poe has arrived….count me in!