ONE OF the ablest opponents of spiritualism, well-known psychical
investigator and distinguished author. His personal experiences in supernormal matters date from his academic studies in Oxford. He rapidly became a convert to survival and communication with the deceased. Between 1875-76 he was a frequent contributor to
Human Nature on spiritualistic subjects. His doubts as to the truth of spiritualism were finally solved by his experiences with
Henry Slade in 1876. But in 1880 in his address to the National Association of Spiritualism, he was already wavering and could hardly be called a spiritualist any longer. His tendency impulsively to accept the evidence on the positive side never left him, but doubts always assailed him on reflection. From being a "believer" he gradually developed to a very sceptical critic whose caution was excessive and coupled with exceptional scientific and literacy gifts, acted as a brake in the early years of the SPR.
He was elected to the Council of the SPR in the first year and served for an unbroken period of 27 years. For eight or nine years he held, jointly with
Frederic Myers, the office of the honorary secretary. He was a collaborator with Myers and
Edmund Gurney in Phantasms of the Living.
"Whether the belief in the intercourse with spirits is well-founded or not, it is certain that no critic has yet succeeded in demonstrating the inadequacy of the evidence upon which the spiritualists rely".
By occupation Frank Podmore was a postal official for 25 years. He resigned in 1906 to devote himself fully to literacy activities. His death was accidental, due to drowning in a pond in the Malvern Hills.
His books include: Apparitions and Thought-Transference (1892); Studies in Psychical
Research (1897); Modern Spiritualism (1902); Spiritualism (Pro and Con Series, against Wake Cook) (1903);
Biography of Robert Owen (1906); The Naturalisation of the
Supernatural (1908); Mesmerism and Christian Science (1909); Telepathic
Hallucination; The New View of Ghosts (1909); The Newer
Source (with minor modifications):
An Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science by Nandor Fodor (1934).
Articles by Frank Podmore on this website:
Mesmer and his Disciples
The Second French Commission
Spiritualism in France before 1848
The German Somnambules
The English Mesmerists
General Survey of the Movement