The Night Side of Nature. Or: Ghosts and Ghost Seers. Catherine CROWE.

The Night Side of Nature. Or: Ghosts and Ghost Seers.

London: G. Routledge 1852. Third edition with new introduction (The first edition was 1848). 8vo. 2 volumes bound as 1. Contemporary brown half calf over brown cloth boards with burgundy title label and gilt decoration to spine. Some rubbing and scuffing to extremities, a little shelfwear, structurally sound and handsome, very good. Edges speckled red. Green endpapers, internally clean, pages lightly toned due to poor paper stock. Chip of loss to lower edge of page 495 not affecting text. Shows very well. One of the most influential and indeed wildly popular examinations of supernatural phenomena of the 19th century. Crowe was a contemporary of Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Charlotte Bronte and a well known author of the time. She was instrumental in engendering great public interest in unexplained supernatural phenomena and one of the first to suggest a correctly scientific approach to evaluating and understanding what she perceived as solvable mysteries in our midst. She can be credited with introducing the word "Poltergeist" to English literature in the first edition of this title. She was visible in the popular spiritualist movement, espoused spirit rapping, left her husband and went to live alone in Edinburgh, scandalised Hans Christian Andersen (you know, the chap with all the dying children in his tales) by being found inhaling ether with another woman at a party (19th century Edinburgh clearly being the Ibiza of the contemporary literati) and was the subject of a bizarre scandal involving her apparently wandering the city stark naked clutching a handkerchief and a carte de visite (I'd love to know whose) possibly believing that she had been made invisible at a seance: "Mrs Crowe has gone stark mad – and stark naked – on the spirit-rapping imposition. She was found t'other day in the street, clothed only in her chastity, a pocket-handkerchief and a visiting card. She had been informed, it appeared, by the spirits, that if she went out in that trim she would be invisible." That's Charles Dickens in a letter to a reverend, so there's no danger of him being thought of as a great big old gossip. It should also be noted that Mrs. Crowe (who hotly denied the incident, putting it down to chronic gastric inflammation, which is one I'll have to remember) was in her sixties at this point in her career, and I can't help but find the image of a successful female novelist, parapsychologist, ether fiend and all round dancer to the different drum finally just losing patience with polite Victorian society, rather a pleasing one. A nice copy of one of those books that everyone has been influenced by but no-one actually remembers. Item #43446

Price: £450.00

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