Catalogue number: WP1/4/4(2)
Letter from Wallace to his wife Annie describing a séance where he was photographed with a spirit, dated June 1895.
Wallace explains to Annie that a 'young student of spiritualism and his wife' visited him. Spiritualism, or trying to contact the dead, was a well-established and extremely popular movement.
Wallace writes that the woman went into a trance and a number of spirits, including Wallace's own mother, appeared in the room. One of them held Wallace's hand and said she would try to appear in a photograph with him. Wallace exclaims excitedly 'perhaps we shall see something!'
Wallace's intellectual curiosity that served him well as a naturalist also drove him to try to find answers to phenomena he did not understand. He was keen to investigate spiritualism, even though it was controversial with some other scientists. His interest began back in 1844 in Leicester, where he attended a lecture on, and practised, mesmerism (hypnotism). Following extensive investigation, Wallace remained convinced that some mediums were genuine. He wrote numerous articles on spiritualism.
For enquiries about the Wallace Collection please email the library
View high resolution scans and transcripts of Alfred Russel Wallace's correspondence, including all surviving letters between him and Charles Darwin.