Spiritualism in Victorian London: Background information when reading The House on Vesper Sands

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The House on Vesper Sands

by Paraic O'Donnell

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O'Donnell X
The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O'Donnell
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    Jan 2021, 408 pages

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Rachel Hullett
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Spiritualism in Victorian London

This article relates to The House on Vesper Sands

Black and white photo of Spiritualist Emma Hardinge Britten with the faded image of a man superimposed behind herThough the movement of Spiritualism — the belief that the spirits of the dead are able to communicate with the living — was born in New York in 1848 with the Fox sisters, it quickly took hold of the Victorian imagination when it arrived in England in the mid-19th century. Maria Hayden, a famous American medium, arrived in the U.K. in the autumn of 1852. In the British press, Hayden was initially mocked and dismissed, but by the mid-1850s she was being visited by a number of influential clients who began to take her and her beliefs seriously. The press began covering the topic more favorably, and newspapers devoted explicitly to Spiritualism sprung up in London, including the British Spiritualist Telegraph and the Spiritual Times.

By 1860, the Spiritualist movement had gathered significant steam, and there were a number of local mediums practicing. These human conduits between the living and the dead would host séances that would be attended by members of the public....

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