New Release: Pre-Raphaelites in the Spirit World

December 24 2021

Image of New Release: Pre-Raphaelites in the Spirit World

Picture: Peter Lang

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a curious new release for December 2021. Peter Lang have just published a scholarly book entitled Pre-Raphaelites in the Spirit World. In particular, the edition focuses on a séance diary kept by William Michael Rossetti, one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood.

According to the blurb:

William Michael Rossetti’s séance diary is a remarkable document in both the history of Pre-Raphaelitism and nineteenth-century spiritualism. In this previously unpublished manuscript, Rossetti meticulously recorded twenty séances between 1865 and 1868. The original motive was the death, in 1862, of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s wife, Elizabeth Siddal. He felt a profound sense of guilt about her and began these séances to reassure himself that she was happy in the afterlife. Messages came from many spirits within the Pre-Raphaelite circle and provide an unprecedented record of spiritualist activity in the late nineteenth century. Questions and answers fill the pages of the diary, many of them communicating uncannily accurate information or details that could be known only to the participants.


As it happens, I accidentally rediscovered some transcripts of Victorian séances while researching for my PhD (click the link to watch a short video if you'd like to hear more about that). The short stories of M.R. James have proved that Christmas and Ghost Stories really do go together.

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