THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF PARAPSYCHOLOGY
Psychic investigator, author, founder (1925) National Laboratory of Psychical Research, later reorganized as the University of London Council for Psychical Research. B. January 17, 1881, Shrewsbury, England; d. March 29, 1948, Pulborough, England. Educ. London, Shropshire. M. 1908, Constance Mary Knight, Foreign Research officer (1925-31), American Society for Psychical Research; member (1920-31), Society for Psychical Research, London; Society for American Magicians; Magic Circle.
A childhood fascination with magic led Price to wide though informal study of spiritualism and the occult. In boyhood he began to collect books on psychic research and related subjects, a collection which has become the 20,000-volume Harry Price Library of Magical Literature at the University of London. He helped found a studentship in psychic research at Trinity College, Cambridge, and the Blennerhasset trust for psychic study at New College, Oxford. Price set up his National Laboratory with the expressed intention of subjecting mediumship, telepathy, clairvoyanc and other phenomena to scientifically controlled examination, using electrical and mechanical apparatus as well as his knowledge of legerdemain in his experiments.
Both in his laboratory and outside it, Price investigated the work of the leading British and European mediums of his day, and his voluminous reports, in which he claimed to have "exposed" many of them as conscious or unconscious frauds, found him at odds with fellow investigators on many occasions. He declared himself convinced, however, of the genuine psychic abilities of a few mediums - among them the Austrian physical mediums Willy and Rudi Schneider, the English girl Stella C. (whose mediumship he discovered), and the British sensitive Mrs. Eileen J. Garrett (qq.v.). Perhaps his most famous investigation was that of Borley Rectory, a so-called haunted house in Sussex whose history of poltergeist and apparitional phenomena began apparently in the 19th century but did not come to public attention until 1929, when a report on Borley in a local newspaper inspired a London edtor to assign an on-the-spot study to Price.
This study launched Price on an eighteen-year investigation during which, accompanied by other investigations, he visited the house repeatedly, held seances there, interviewed witnesses of alleged Borley phenomena, and reported on poltergeist and other inexplicable happenings which he said he had witnessed himself at the Sussex rectory. Price gave his account of Borley in two books, The Most Haunted House in England (1940) and The End of Borley Rectory (1946). The case aroused much controversy, and in 1955, seven years after Price's death, The Haunting of Borley Rectory was published, a book written by Eric J. Dingwall, Kathleen M. Goldney (both of whom took part at various times in investigating the rectory with Price), and Trevor H. Hall (qq.v.). Subtitled "A Critical Evaluation of the Evidence," the book raised questions as to the authenticity of the Borley phenomena.
Price's books include Revelations of a Spirit Medium (co-editor with E. J. Dingwall, 1922); Short-Title Catalogue of Works on Psychic Research, Spiritualism, Magic, Etc. (1929); Rudi Schneider (1930); Regurgitation and the Duncan Mediumship (1931); A Psychist's Case-Book (1933); Further Experiments with Rudi Schneider (1933); Confessions of a Ghost Hunter (1936); The Haunting of Cashen's Gap (with R. S. Lambert, q.v.; 1936); Fifty Years of Psychic Research (1939); Search for Truth (autobiography, 1942); Poltergeist Over England (1945); Hauntings (with Upton Sinclair, q.v.; 1948). Of the nearly 200 articles and pamphlets he wrote, a few of the best known follow: "A Case of Fraud with the Crewe Circle" (Journal SPR, 1922); "Frau Silbert and Her Phenomena" (Journal ASPR, 1926); "Telekinetic and Other Phenomena Witnessed Through Eleonore Zungun" (Journal ASPR, 1927); "A Plea for Better Understanding" (Journal SPR, 1929); "The R-101 Disaster" (Psychic Research, 1931); "Firewalking Experiments" (British Medical Journal, 1953); "The Talking Mongoose" (The Listener, 1935). See also Harry Price, The Biography of a Ghost Hunter, by Paul Tabori (1950).
Taken from Helene Pleasants (1964) Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology with Directory and Glossary 1946-1996 NY: Garrett Publications