Brian Inglis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Brian Inglis (31 July 1916 – 11 February 1993) was an Anglo-Irish journalist, historian and television presenter. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, and retained an interest in Irish history and politics.

Inglis in a publicity shot for All Our Yesterdays

He was best known to people in Britain as the presenter of All Our Yesterdays, a television review of events exactly 25 years previously, as seen in newsreels, newspaper articles etc. He also presented the weekly review of newspapers known as What the Papers Say.

He joined the staff of The Spectator in 1954, and became editor in 1959, soon afterwards hiring the young Bernard Levin to write for the magazine. He continued as editor until 1962.

He also had interests in the paranormal, and alternative medicine.

Early life and education[edit]

Brian Inglis was born into a middle-class professional Church of Ireland family (his father was an hydraulic engineer) in the closed society of Malahide, north County Dublin. He was a grandson of J. R. Blood and thus a likely descendant of Thomas Blood, who attempted (unsuccessfully) to steal the British Crown Jewels. He found the life he was born into oppressive in its obsession with custom, style, privilege, respectability, and ostracism. Since the people around him were regarded as English invaders by the local Irish Catholics, and as Irish by society over in Britain, he felt alienated from, or was rejected by, everyone to whom he might claim a connection.

He attended the Dragon School in Oxford, Shrewsbury School, Trinity College, Dublin, and Magdalen College, Oxford. After service in the RAF during World War 2, he studied for a PhD in History at Trinity College, Dublin. His thesis was the basis for his first book, Freedom of the Press in Ireland (1954).

Adult life[edit]

He married Ruth Woodeson, the writer, in 1958, and they had one son, later separating. In 1962 he published his first memoir West Briton (an antiquated reference to the Anglo-Irish upper classes in Ireland, from whose cultural influence Inglis never entirely escaped). He was a founding member of the British-Irish Association, which became the British Association for Irish Studies.

In 1975 he wrote and narrated a unique sound archive of World War 2 for record label Cameo Classics, entitled "Sounds of All Our Yesterdays". It was researched by his close friend Bill Grundy, a Producer of the Granada TV series "All Our Yesterdays", which Brian had presented for 10 years.

His interest in the paranormal began while working at The Spectator. In 1978 Inglis published Natural and Supernatural. With Arthur Koestler and Tony Bloomfield he co-founded the KIB Society to sponsor paranormal research (which was later renamed the Koestler Parapsychology Unit). He published a work on people who enter trance states (Trance: A Natural History of Altered States of Mind) and his last work, written as a tribute to Koestler dealt with the subject of synchronicity. It was entitled Coincidence: A Matter of Chance or Synchronicity?.

Inglis was a consultant on the 1981 Thames Television programme Mind Over Matter.

He published his final memoir, Downstart, in 1990. The title is taken from the preface to Immaturity by George Bernard Shaw,and is a play on the word upstart, as in one who pretends to a higher station in life than is merited.


Inglis in his book The Hidden Power (1986) invoked a conspiracy theory that established scientists have denied and suppressed evidence for the existence of a psi force. Inglis suggested that an underlying psi force could explain extrasensory perception, psychokinesis, biological evolution, social behaviour of insects, telepathy, mediumship, religious experiences amongst other mysteries. According to Inglis the untapped and untamed force sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, depending on the factors involved. Terry Hamblin gave the book a mixed review but criticized the book for endorsing Spiritualistic activities such as ectoplasm and table tapping.[1]

In the early 1980s Inglis was involved in a dispute with the skeptic Ruth Brandon over the mediumship of Daniel Dunglas Home in the New Scientist magazine.[2][3][4] In 1988, the magician Bob Couttie criticized Inglis for deliberately ignoring evidence of fraud in mediumship. Couttie wrote that Inglis had not familiarized himself with magician techniques.[5] The parapsychologist D. Scott Rogo complained that Inglis "had a bad habit in his writing of suppressing negative information about psychics and researchers he favored by failing to note cases of fraud that were uncovered."[6]

Science writer Martin Gardner criticized Inglis for making "imbecilic" comments about alleged psychic "pseudopods" from the medium Eusapia Palladino.[7]

The physicist John Taylor wrote that Inglis had made remarks about physics that were untutored errors.[8]


He died in Camden, London,[9] aged 76. He had just finished writing the obituary of his friend and colleague Bill Grundy.


  • Freedom of the Press in Ireland [IHS] (London: Faber & Faber 1954).
  • Irish Double-Thought, in The Spectator, 188 (7 March 1952), p. 289;
  • Smuggled Culture, The Spectator, 188 (28 November 1952), p. 726;
  • The Story of Ireland (London: Faber 1956);
  • Moran of the Leader, in Castleknock Chronicle (1956) [text of Thomas Davis Lecture];
  • Moran of the Leader and Ryan of the Irish Peasant, in The Shaping of Modern Ireland, Conor Cruise O'Brien, ed., (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1960);
  • West Briton (London: Faber and Faber 1962)
  • Fringe Medicine (London: Faber and Faber 1964)
  • A History of Medicine (World Publishing Co. Cleveland, OH 1965)
  • Roger Casement (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1973)
  • The Forbidden Game; A social history of drugs (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1975)
  • The Opium Wars (1976) ISBN 0-340-19390-5
  • Natural and Supernatural (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1978)
  • Natural Medicine (London: Collins 1979) ISBN 0 00 216145 1
  • The Diseases of Civilisation (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1981)
  • The Hidden Power (London: J.Cape 1986)
  • The Paranormal: An Encyclopedia of Psychic Phenomena (London: Paladin 1986)
  • The Power Of Dreams (London: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd 1987)
  • with Ruth West: The Unknown Guest (London: Chatto and Windus 1987)
  • Trance: A Natural History of Altered States of Mind (London: Paladin 1989) ISBN 0-586-08933-0
  • Coincidence: a Matter of Chance - or Synchronicity? (London: Hutchinson 1990)
  • Downstart: The Autobiography of Brian Inglis (London: Chatto & Windus 1990)


  • On the Irish Famine: If the British chose not to consider Ireland part of Britain, when such an emergency arose, they could hardly complain if the Irish did likewise. (The Story of Ireland, p.140)
  • To punish drug takers is like a drunk striking the bleary face it sees in the mirror. (Postscript, The Forbidden Game: A Social History of Drugs (1975))


  1. ^ Terry Hamblin. (1986). The Paranormal Defended. British Medical Journal. Volume 293. p. 1003.
  2. ^ Ruth Brandon. Scientists and the Supernormal. New Scientist 16 Jun 1983.
  3. ^ Brian Inglis. Supernormal. New Scientist. 30 Jun 1983.
  4. ^ Ruth Brandon. Prestidigitations. New Scientist. 14 Jul 1983.
  5. ^ Bob Couttie. (1988). Forbidden Knowledge: The Paranormal Paradox. Lutterworth Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0718826864
  6. ^ Brian Inglis (1916-1993). Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. 2001. 20 November, 2013.
  7. ^ Martin Gardner. (1991). The New Age : Notes of a Fringe-Watcher. Prometheus Books. p. 178. ISBN 0-87975-644-6
  8. ^ John Taylor. (1980). Science and the Supernatural: An Investigation of Paranormal Phenomena Including Psychic Healing, Clairvoyance, Telepathy, and Precognition by a Distinguished Physicist and Mathematician. Temple Smith. p. 167. ISBN 0-85117-191-5
  9. ^ Deaths England and Wales 1984-2006

External links[edit]