Mme. d'Esperance

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Mme. d'Esperance (born Elizabeth Hope, 20 November 1855 – 20 July 1919)[1] was a British author and spiritualist medium who was exposed as a fraud.

Biography[edit]

Having spent rather troubled childhood full of weird visions, mother’s scolding and doctors’ harassment, Elizabeth discovered spiritualism and in the early 1870s claimed mediumistic powers, such as automatic writing, ectoplasm and table-turning. Elizabeth (who by this time married a Mr. Reid and was based in Newcastle) adopted the pseudonym "Mme. d'Esperance" and as such travelled through many European countries, giving séances in Denmark, France, Norway, Belgium, Sweden and Germany. She was notable for her claims to materialize flowers and spirits in the séance room which caused much controversy. She wrote two books on Spiritualism.

Her last mediumistic séance was held on 1 May 1919, in (Østerbro) Copenhagen, Denmark. She died shortly after that, on 20 July 1919.

Fraud[edit]

In 1880 in a séance a spirit named "Yohlande" materialized, a sitter grabbed it and was revealed to be Elizabeth herself.[2] Regarding the exposure M. Lamar Keene wrote in his book The Psychic Mafia "Madame D’Esperance, was exposed-- literally. Ectoplasm grabbed in the dark by a sitter turned out to be the medium in total dishabille. After that embarrassing interlude, Madame D’Esperance apparently became more careful since she wasn’t busted again for thirteen years."[3]

In a séance in Helsinki, Finland, December 11, 1893 Elizabeth claimed to have dematerialized the lower part of her body whilst only her head and stomach remained. Alexander Aksakof wrote a booklet A Case of Partial Dematerialisation which supported Elizabeth's claims of dematerialization (1898).[4] It was pointed out by scientists that the room was so dark that trickery would have been easy to perform, the chair that Elizabeth was said to be sitting on was not examined before or after the séance, and there were no scientific controls in place.[5] Hereward Carrington exposed how she had performed the trick:

"The back of the chair was partially open, and of sufficient size to allow the medium to thrust her legs through as far as the hips, when the dress had been drawn up, and spread over the seat of the chair. The medium would, therefore, be in a kneeling position behind the chair, with the upper part of her body in front of the chair-back, and, of course, visible to the investigators who made the examination.[6]

Publications[edit]

  • Northern lights, and other psychic stories (1901)
  • Shadow land, or, Light from the other side (1897)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Politiken Newspaper. (1919). 23 July. p. 11
  2. ^ Joseph McCabe. (1920). Spiritualism: A Popular History From 1847. T. F. Unwin Ltd. p. 167
  3. ^ M. Lamar Keene. (1997). The Psychic Mafia. Prometheus Books. p. 65. ISBN 978-1573921619
  4. ^ Maurice Leonard. (2011). People from the Other Side: The Enigmatic Fox Sisters and the History of American Spiritualism. The History Press. ISBN 9781845886370
  5. ^ Hereward Carrington. (1907). An examination and analysis of the evidence for “dematerialization” as demonstrated in Mons. Aksakof’s book. Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research. Volume 1: 131-168.
  6. ^ Hereward Carrington. (1907). The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism. Herbert B. Turner & Co. pp. 235-236

Further reading[edit]