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THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF PARAPSYCHOLOGY

DANIEL DUNGLAS HOME

American spiritualist and medium. B. March 20, 1833, near Edinburgh, Scotland; d. June 21, 1886, Auteuil, France. M. 1858, Alexandria de Kroll (d. 1862); 1 s; m. 1871, Julie de Gloumeline. Home was taken to Greenville, Connecticut, by an aunt when he was nine years old. He was believed to be possessed by devils when shortly after his mother's death strange rappings and other phenomena, including the moving of furniture without apparent physical cause, occurred repeatedly in his presence. Efforts at exorcism by the local clery failed, and Home at the age of seventeen was taken in by neighbors when his aunt refused to shelter him further. The fame of Home and what he called his "spirits" spread quickly, launching him on a career as probably the greatest physical medium on record.

Unlike most mediums, who ooperate in semi-darkness, Home preferred to demonstrate his gifts in full daylight or under blazling chadeliers. Usually he sat several feet from the table at which his audience was seated, in full view and, according to witnesses of the time, motionless, pale and in trance. Some of the events said by eyewitnesses to occur at Home seances included the playing of a guitar or an accordion without apparent human contract, the sliding about of chairs and the tilting of tables without evident physical cause, the materialization of a bodiless hand which innumerable sitters claimed to have held it before it "melted" away, and the levitation of furniture and of the medium himself. He refused to charge for his seances, but accepted lodging, jewelry and other gifts.

Home's phenomena aroused much controversy, and attempts to expose him as a fraud were frequent adn lasted throughout his lifetime, but were never successful. Some diligent investigators, including the poet William Cullen Bryant, pronounced themselves convinced of the genuineness of Home's phenomena after fruitlessly seeking for wires or other mechanical devices as the odd occurrences were in progress; others, equally diligent, ascribed Home's feats to "unconscious celebration" or "mass hypnosis," assertions which themselves seemed unprovable. In 1853, Dr. Robert Hare chemistry professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, investigated Home intending to expose what Hare called "the gross delusion of spiritualism." Instead, Hare wrote the book Experimental Investigations: The Spiritual Manifestations.

In 1885 Home went to England, where his admirers included the writers Wlliam Thackeray adn John Ruskin and the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Notable among the unconvinced was Robert Browning who wrote the scathing poem Sludge, the Medium, after a Home seance. Home exhibited his talents before the French, Dutch, Prussian and Russian courts. In 1856 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church, but in 1864 the church expelled him from Rome as a sorcerer. In 1868, the most startling of all his feats as reported: according to Lord Adare, later the Earl of Dunraven, and the Earl of Crawford, a member of the Royal Society, Home, in trance, floated outside a window seventy feet above the ground and glided seven feet to enter the window of a room adjoining.

In 1872, the physicist William Crookes (q.v.) used galvanometers, thermometers adn special instruments of his own devising to test and control Home, and pronounced himself (Quarterly Journal of Science, July 1871 et seq.) thoroughly satisfied of Home's good faith and of the genuineness of his phenomena. Crookes' fellow scientists remained unconvinced. Home published two books: Incidents of My Life (1863), and Lights adn Shadows of Spiritualism (1877). See also, Home, His Life and Mission (1888), and The Gift of D. D. Home (1890), both by Julie de Gloumeline Home; and Heyday of a Wizard (1944) by Jean Burton.


Taken from Helene Pleasants (1964) Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology with Directory and Glossary 1946-1996 NY: Garrett Publications


 
 

 

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