William Hope (paranormal investigator)

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William Hope
Born 1863
Crewe, Cheshire, England
Died 8 March 1933(1933-03-08)
Salford, England
Occupation Spiritualist
Organization Crewe Circle

William Hope (1863 – 8 March 1933) was a pioneer of so-called "spirit photography". Based in Crewe, England, he was a member of the well known spiritualists group, the Crewe Circle. He died in Salford hospital on 8 March 1933.[1]

Paranormal claims[edit]

As a young man Hope was employed as a carpenter, but he quickly came to prominence in paranormal circles after claiming to be able to capture images of spirits on camera. Hope produced his first spirit image in 1905. Soon afterwards he formed the Crewe Circle Spiritualist group, with himself as the leader.

Fraud claims[edit]

Harry Price, and friend. As taken by William Hope

In 1906, Hope managed to dupe William Crookes with a fake spirit photograph of his wife. Oliver Lodge revealed there had been obvious signs of double exposure, the picture of Lady Crookes had been copied from a wedding anniversary photograph, however, Crookes was a convinced spiritualist and claimed it was genuine evidence for spirit photography.[2]

On 4 February 1922, the Society for Psychical Research and the paranormal investigator Harry Price with James Seymour, Eric Dingwall and William Marriott had proven Hope was a fraud during tests at the British College of Psychic Science. Price wrote in his report "William Hope has been found guilty of deliberately substituting his own plates for those of a sitter... It implies that the medium brings to the sitting a duplicate slide and faked plates for fraudulent purposes."[3]

Price secretly marked Hope's photographic plates, and provided him with a packet of additional plates that had been covertly etched with the brand image of the Imperial Dry Plate Co. Ltd. in the knowledge that the logo would be transferred to any images created with them. Unaware that Price had tampered with his supplies, Hope then attempted to produce a number of Spirit photographs. Although Hope produced several images of spirits, none of his materials contained the Imperial Dry Plate Co. Ltd logo, or the marks that Price had put on Hope's original equipment, showing that he had exchanged prepared materials containing fake spirit images for the provided materials.[1]

Price later re-published the Society's experiment in a pamphlet of his own called Cold Light on Spiritualistic "Phenomena" - An Experiment with the Crewe Circle. Due to the exposure of Hope and other fraudulent spiritualists, Arthur Conan Doyle led a mass resignation of eighty-four members of the Society for Psychical Research, as they believed the Society was opposed to spiritualism.[4]

In 1932, Fred Barlow, a former friend and supporter of Hope's work and also the former Secretary of the Society for the Study of Supernormal Pictures, along with Major W. Rampling-Rose, gave a joint lecture to the Society for Psychical Research to present findings gleaned from an extensive series of tests on the methods Hope used to produce his spirit photographs.

Barlow and Rampling-Rose concluded that the "spirit extras" that appeared in Hope's photographs were produced fraudulently. The pair would later present their case in depth in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research.[5]

Despite Price's findings, Hope still retained a noted following, including author and spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who refused to accept any evidence that Hope was a fraud and went to great lengths to clear his name, going so far as to write a book supporting spirit photography, The Case for Spirit Photography,[6] in response to Price's claims of fraud and trying to convince Price to withdraw his story.[1]

Gallery[edit]

Examples of Hope's work.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Leaves from a Psychist’s Case Book, by Harry Price
  2. ^ William Hodson Brock. (2008). William Crookes (1832-1919) and the Commercialization of Science. Ashgate. p. 474. ISBN 978-0754663225
  3. ^ Photos of Ghosts: The Burden of Believing the Unbelievable by Massimo Polidoro
  4. ^ G. K. Nelson. (2013). Spiritualism and Society. Routledge. p. 159. ISBN 978-0415714624
  5. ^ Report of an Investigation into Spirit-Photography, by Fred Barlow and Major W. Rampling Rose, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, XLI.
  6. ^ The Case for Spirit Photography by Arthur Conan Doyle, 1922.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Leaves from a Psychist’s Case Book, by Harry Price, Victor Gollancz Ltd., hardback, 1933.
  • Cold Light on Spiritualistic "Phenomena" - An Experiment with the Crewe Circle, by Harry Price, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd, 1922. (Reprinted from the May 1922 edition of the Journal of the London Society for Psychical Research.)
  • Report of an Investigation into Spirit-Photography, by Fred Barlow and Major W. Rampling Rose, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, XLI.
  • The Case for Spirit Photography by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1922.
  • Harry Price: The Psychic Detective by Richard Morris (Sutton Publishing 2006)

External links[edit]