Quacks and quackery--Great Britain--History--19th century, Spiritualism--Great Britain--History--19th century, and Magical thinking--Great Britain--History--19th century
The Victorians had a thirst for knowledge. This drove them to explore the unchartered corners of the world, plumb the unfathomable depths of science, discover evolution and create some of the engineering and architectural marvels of the world. Yet this open-mindedness also at times made them utterly gullible. Because of their closeness to disease and the ever-present threat of their own mortality, it was inevitable that they would be open to the claims of quacks who promised all kinds of panaceas, and to mediums who offered a means of communicating with the dead. So too did it make them eager for diversion and entertainment by the conjurers and illusionists of the great music halls. Strangely, it was through the magic-making skill of the conjurers that the activities of many of the tricksters and fraudulent mediums finally came to be exposed. Medical Meddlers, Mediums & Magicians is a box of delights for all students of Victoriana.
Spiritualism--United States--History--19th century, Spiritualists--New York (State)--New York--Biography, Sisters--New York (State)--New York--Biography, and Spiritualism--Great Britain--History--19th century
Kate, Leah and Margaret Fox were three young sisters living in upstate New York in the middle of the nineteenth century who discovered an apparent ability to communicate with spirits. When this became known, they quickly found themselves at the core of an emerging spiritualist movement, and their public seances in New York City were attended by many. the movement gained considerable popularity, although Margaret would later admit to producing rapping noises by cracking her toe joints and both she and Kate eventually died in poverty. Spiritualism nonetheless became something of a Victorian phenomenon, both in America and Britain, with figures such as James Fenimore Cooper and Arthur Conan Doyle amongst its adherents. Maurice Leonard's account of the lives of the Foxes is a fascinating and informative look at the birth and early days of spiritualism, a belief that remains popular to this day.