Phantasms of the Victorians

Funding Enables New Research Project

The John Björkhem Memorial Foundation has awarded a research grant to enable the launch of my new project ‘Phantasms of the Victorians’.

The project will analyse a largely unknown and unexamined case collection and a well-known but under-researched collection, both from the late Victorian Period, as means of advancing our understanding of the experience of the supernatural.

In their landmark 1886 book Phantasms of the Living (2 vols), Edmund Gurney, Frederic Myers and Frank Podmore cited 702 cases as evidence. The research issues raised during the committee’s work on Phantasms of the Living, principally the desire for a greater sample size, led directly to the ‘Census of Hallucinations’. Therefore, the Phantasms and the ‘Census’ can be seen as one extended project, which should be considered in its entirety. Although both Phantasms and the ‘Census’ have been published, they have been largely overlooked by modern researchers and have not been studied and re-analysed using modern methods. This will form the initial phase of the ‘Phantasms of the Victorians’ project.

Dr Leo Ruickbie has been working on the Victorian experience of the supernatural since the publication of his 2012 book A Brief Guide to the Supernatural.

The John Björkhem Memorial Foundation is connected to the Sällskapet för Parapsykologisk Forskning (the Swedish Society for Parapsychological Research), established in 1948.