ABOUT THIS BOOK
PUBLICATION DATE: April 10, 2015
Mrs Guppy Takes a Flight: A Scandal of Victorian Spiritualism
By (author) Molly Whittington-Egan
Many moons ago, in the high Victorian era, Mrs. Guppy, the famous medium, was enjoying a sparkling success. Over the rooftops of Bloomsbury she sailed, was infused through lathe and plaster, and clambered on to tables in the darkness, magicking down showers of apports. Night after night, once the lights were extinguished, and the damped fires had died in the grates, the seance could begin in plush and mahogany drawing-rooms. The O of her mouth in speaking trances was a portal to the spirit world. Her lidded eyes were flickering sensors. The floating paper trumpets were channels to catch the direct voices of the departed. Curtained cabinets were entrances to the unknown land. There, in the thrilling, breathing gloom, decked out in merging black gown, portly, not ethereal, Mrs Guppy, silently, deftly, tripped her own fantastic dance in little, pointy, soft, boots. Definitely invisible, for none ever spotted her, and very nearly noiseless – once, she set a chandelier a-tinkling – she glided behind the bowed heads of her awestruck sitters, and dispensed upon the table a cornucopia of gifts and symbols, apports, from the spirits; animal, vegetable and mineral.Wings swooped and birds burbled; doves were released. Lights darted and twinkled. Auditory effects, tactile feelings, stroking, prickling, oriental smells, made temporary schizophrenics of solid citizens. She was a sensation. Sadly, though, she was a fake medium, or a cheat, as they called it then, deliberately and in full consciousness employing techniques and devices in order to deceive others that she was in contact with the dead. She was lucky, or exceptionally talented: no lurking sceptic ever managed to expose her, to put up the light prematurely, snatch off a veil, or disclose a mask or waxen body part, as was happening to her rivals. In her palmy days, at the beginnings of the British craze for spiritualism she was a maker of miracles, and her name is still remembered. Her private life, obscured to those who believed in her, was curious, and based on fundamental lies. This is her story, finally brilliantly exposed and researched by criminologist Molly Whittington-Egan. It is the story of a brilliant lifelong conwoman and prestidigitateur.
Molly Whittington-Egan is an English graduate of Newnham College, Cambridge where she was an Exhibitioner. Before qualifying as a solicitor she was a social worker where she was an Exhibitioner. Before qualifying as a solicitor she was a social worker in a large London psychiatric hospital where she acquired extensive experience of disturbed and criminal persons. When not working on and researching new projects, she reviews literature and psychology for the journal Contemporary Review. With her husband, the criminologist and writer Richard Whittington-Egan, she has coedited and co-authored a number of true crime books. They are the only married couple in Britain engaged in writing about true crime together. They work, each at a desk in their separate studies, in their atmospheric centuries-old house, its corridors lined with crime books, its cupboards stocked with rare murder memorabilia, deep in Dr Gully country, in Malvern, Worcestershire