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Civil servant. B. February 5, 1856, Elstree, Hertfordshire, England; d. August 15, 1910, Malvern, Worcester, England. Educ. Elstree Hill School; Haileybury; Pembroke College, Oxford. M. 1891, Eleanore Bramwell. Member of Council, Society for Psychical Research, London, 1883-1910; SPR secretary, 1888-96.

Podmore's interest in psychical research began when he was a student at Oxford, and he soon became an ardent spiritualist, making frequent contributions to the magazines Human Nature and The Spiritualist. With the exposure as frauds of several famous mediums in whom he had believed, however, his attitude rapidly changed to one of extreme skepticism, and remained thus until shortly before his death. His contributions to psychical research were of the highest value, and his Modern Spiritualism, a History and a Criticism (1902) and Mesmerism and Christian Science (1909) are recognized as standard works. So also is Phantasms of the Living (1886), of which he was co-author with F. W. H. Myers and Edmund Gurney (qq.v.).

Podmore devoted much of his time to the investigation of alleged hauntings and poltergeist activities, classes of phenomena concerning which he always remained unconvinced. Toward the end of his life, however, he modified considerably his views on mental mediumship, declaring himself greatly impressed by "communications" purporting to emanate from recently deceased fellow researchers, in particular Myers and Richard Hodgson (q.v.).

In additions to the works mentioned above, he wrote Apparitions and Thought Transference (1892); Studies in Psychical Research (1897); Spiritualism ("Con," in Pro and Con series, 1903); Robert Owen, a Biography (1906); The Naturalisation of the Supernatural (1908); Telepathic Hallucination, the New View of Ghosts (1909); The Newer Spiritualism (1910). Articles in SPR Proceedings include: "Phantasms of the Dead from Another Point of View" (1889-90); "Subliminal Self or Unconscious Cerebration" (1895); "Poltergeists" (1896-97); "Discussion of the Trance Phenomena of Mrs. Piper" (1898-99).

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



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