William Hope’s Spirit Photographs


The National Media Museum has a whole set of William Hope’s “Spirit Photographs.” From the intro to the set:

These photographs of ‘spirits’ are taken from an album of photographs unearthed in a Lancashire second-hand and antiquarian bookshop by one of the Museum’s curators. They were taken by a controversial medium called William Hope (1863-1933)…

…By 1922 Hope had moved to London where he became a professional medium. The work of the Crew Circle was investigated on various occasions. The most famous of these took place in 1922, when the Society for Psychical Research sent Harry Price to investigate the group. Price collected evidence that Hope was substituting glass plates bearing ghostly images in order to produce his spirit photographs.

Later the same year Price published his findings, exposing Hope as a fraudster. However, many of Hope’s most ardent supporters spoke out on his behalf, the most famous being Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Hope continued to practice, despite his exposure. He died in London on 7 March 1933.

Obvious fakes, time has rendered them spooky in different, much more interesting ways. The “female spirit” he uses is a bit odd looking, and Hope’s use of her just floating there shows at least he knew how to freak people out.

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