Between the world wars, in what is commonly thought to be the heyday of psychical research, H. Dennis Bradley’s séances and experiments with direct voice medium George Valiantine, represent one of the more extraordinary high profile cases of that era.
After eight years of providing personal evidence for life after physical death to hundreds of sitters including, novelist P.G. Wodehouse, entertainer and composer Ivor Novello, Japanese poet Gonnoske Komai, artist Charles Sykes, socialites and others of London’s so-called high society, Valiantine was seemingly exposed in a bizarre print experiment involving the deceased Arthur Conan Doyle’s alleged thumbprint and the medium’s big toe.
During those eight years, communications occurred in many languages, including German, Swedish, Danish, French, Hindi, Welsh, Japanese, Chinese dialects and even Labourdin Basque. Valiantine was from Williamsport, Pennsylvania. We are told he was a semiliterate man of average intelligence who worked in manufacturing. He was not known to speak any languages apart from his native English and he was almost certainly no polyglot.
During séances he was often meeting sitters for the first time, and on occasions Bradley made a point of not introducing them to Valiantine, yet in his presence, voices emanated from around the room claiming to be friends, business associates, family members and others connected to the sitters. The “voices” provided personal details sometimes even unknown to the sitter.
Because many of the sitters were famous, entities communicating were often historic figures known to us today. For the most part they wanted their living friends to know that all was well on the other side.
In 1931, a voice claiming to be Arthur Conan Doyle, who had passed away some months earlier, came through at a Valiantine séance where his wife Jean and son Adrian were present. They were satisfied it was the creator of Sherlock Holmes communicating.
Billie Carleton, an actress, and at the time the youngest leading lady in London’s West End, had passed away as the result of an opium overdose in 1918. In 1925 a communicator claiming to be Billie came through wishing to speak with one of the sitters, actress Fay Compton. That was the first of a number of communications between “Carleton” and Compton, who later thanked Bradley saying, “I write to thank you for the wonderful experience you gave me on Sunday night. I am so grateful. If I might come again and bring my husband (Leon Quartermaine), who is tremendously interested, I can’t tell you how pleased I would be.”
A voice claiming to be Lord Northcliffe, the newspaper publishing magnate and owner of the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror, who had passed away in 1922, came through at a séance in 1924, and later on multiple occasions, usually when his old employee, journalist Hannen Swaffer and his secretary Louise Owen were present.
‘Northcliffe” regularly conversed with Swaffer and Owen and still had opinions of how his newspapers were being run. Both Swaffer and Owen accepted that it was their old boss communicating, and Swaffer subsequently wrote a book detailing his dialogues with the deceased Northcliffe, who suggested the title for the book: Northcliffe’s Return. That book was published in 1925.
Bradley organized other séances at his home with other mediums including one named Evan Powell.
At one of the Powell séances, Max Aitkin, more commonly known as Lord Beaverbrook, politician and newspaper magnate, had been invited at the last minute. He wasn’t introduced to Powell who seemed unaware of who he was.
During that séance “Northcliffe” came through; his first words were “My God, Beaverbrook, if you only knew how difficult it was.” Then the spirit guide announced that there was a man standing behind Beaverbrook, a tall, dark man, very reserved, but very eager with a little cough. He also said that he had lost two sons, the loss of which had hastened his death.
Moments later a voice came through saying, “Law is here.” Andrew Bonar Law was Beaverbrook’s old friend, a Conservative politician who had been prime minister of the United Kingdom for a short time during 1922-1923. He had passed away in 1923, a little over a year before the séance. At first the voice was weak and Law appeared to be struggling, but after a while “he” and “Northcliffe” conversed with Beaverbrook, with Northcliffe explaining to Beaverbrook, “Law is full of emotion; that is why he finds it so difficult to speak,” and adding, “This is a new revelation; it is the great reality.”
In 1931 on a visit to London, Valiantine took part in a print experiment which they had tried before, where discarnate beings attempted to leave a materialized finger, thumb or handprint on smoked paper placed in the séance room. Valiantine had always been willing to participate in these experiments and was not under pressure to perform. He was at the top of his game and had nothing to gain by instigating a deception, yet when the lights went on, the Doyle thumbprint turned out to be Valiantine’s toeprint. Valiantine claimed he knew nothing about it, but by any “normal” means he had cheated and was consigned to the dustbin of psychical research history.
In this expanded edition of Wisdom of the Gods, in the Foreword and Afterword, Michael Tymn delves into the story in detail and unravels the truth from fiction, fantasy and fraud.
About the author
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published September 2022
Size: 6 x 9 inches / 229 x 152 mm