Mme. d'Esperance

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Mme. d'Esperance
Mme. d'Esperance covered in a net, as a control in a séance experiment.

Mme. d'Esperance (born Elizabeth Hope, 20 November, 1855 - 20 July, 1919) was an English spiritualist medium who was exposed as a fraud.[1][2]


Growing up in London, Elizabeth claimed to have lived in a haunted mansion, with many empty rooms, she liked to explore. Having spent rather lonely childhood full of alleged psychic visions, mother’s verbal and sometimes physical abuse, and doctors harassment in the scary Asylum days, Elizabeth discovered spiritualism and in the early 1870s mediumistic powers, such as automatic writing, ectoplasm, empathy, premonitions and table-turning. Elizabeth (who by this time married a Mr. Reed and was based in Newcastle) adopted the pseudonym "Mme. d'Esperance" and as such traveled through many European countries, giving séances in Denmark, France, Norway, Belgium, Sweden and Germany. She was notable for being able to materialize flowers and spirits in the séance room which caused much controversy at the time. She wrote two books on Spiritualism. Her first book describes her experiences from childhood, living with her sick mother, while her father was a sailor, and living in a haunted mansion. She describes the shadows she saw in the house, called "Shadow People". The book describes how she developed her psychic Abilities, the experiments she performed with psychical researchers, and her circle.

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


In 1880 in a séance a spirit named "Yohlande" materialized, a sitter grabbed it and was revealed to be Elizabeth herself.[3] 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."[4]

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. Alexandr Aksakov wrote a booklet A Case of Partial Dematerialization which supported Elizabeth's claims of dematerialization (1898).[5] Psychical researcher Hereward Carrington noted that the room was so dark that trickery would have been easy to perform. Carrington suggested 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]

Charles Richet has written that all the wonders attributed to Madame D’Esperance must be "eliminated, for with them there was evident fraud."[7]



  1. ^ Edmunds, Simeon. (1966). Spiritualism: A Critical Survey. Aquarian Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-0850300130 "Other well-known physical mediums of the period included Madame d'Esperance (Elizabeth Hope), who was caught in Newcastle in 1880. When her materialised guide, 'Yolande', was seized by a sitter it proved to be the medium in her underclothes. She continued to practise, however, and was exposed again on the Continent thirteen years later."
  2. ^ Anderson, Rodger. (2006). Psychics, Sensitives and Somnambules: A Biographical Dictionary With Bibliographies. McFarland. p. 42. ISBN 0-7864-2770-1
  3. ^ McCabe, Joseph. (1920). Spiritualism: A Popular History From 1847. T. F. Unwin Ltd. p. 167
  4. ^ Keene, M. Lamar. (1997). The Psychic Mafia. Prometheus Books. p. 65. ISBN 978-1573921619
  5. ^ Maurice Leonard. (2011). People from the Other Side: The Enigmatic Fox Sisters and the History of American Spiritualism. The History Press. ISBN 9781845886370
  6. ^ Carrington, Hereward. (1907). The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism. Herbert B. Turner & Co. pp. 235-236
  7. ^ Richet, Charles. (1923). Thirty Years of Psychical Research. The Macmillan Company. p. 471

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