Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886) was and is considered by many as the greatest medium of all time. Home was noted for his abilities in levitation, as a medium, and as a clairvoyant. Scottish by birth, Home moved with his aunt and uncle to America, and later as an adult, returned to England.
From a young age, Home began making accurate predictions of family members’ deaths. His aunt recalled that at the age of four, Home predicted his cousin’s death (Home 1). As he grew, his abilities became more pronounced. The first visitation he could recall occurred when he was only thirteen years old. One night when he went to bed, he saw his friend Edwin at the foot of his bed. He called family members into the room and related his vision ( 3). It proved to be too true.
Despite his sickly childhood, Home’s abilities continued into adulthood. Home believed his psychic talents were passed down from his mother, who was gifted (or cursed) with second sight. She predicted her own death. When her death came, Home was confined to bed himself with sickness; nevertheless, his mother appeared to him to say farewell (5).
Soon after, Home began hearing “knockings” in his aunt’s house. Home claimed, “there had been some talk of the so-called Rochester knockings through the Fox family, but apart from casually hearing of them, I had paid no attention to them; I did not even know what they meant” (6). Indeed, Home rarely associated or even acknowledged other Spiritualists or mediums (D.D. Home). Whatever the truth may be, soon furniture began to move around the rooms, and increasingly, neighbors were attracted to the house (Home 8).
Unfortunately for him, his aunt Mary Cook did take an active interest in the stories of the day, and fearing that Home was associated with the devil, she threw him out of her house (8).
At the age of 18, Home was on his own with little to call his own but his sickly disposition and his psychic abilities. Home moved in with a friend in a nearby town, and the furniture soon began to twirl, dance, and rise in his new abode. This time, Home attracted the notice of a reporter. After an article recounting the events appeared in 1851, Home became a household word (9).
Home bitterly reflected on his loss of privacy since supplicants besieged him all of the time. Nevertheless, Home’s path was clearly marked. He became the master of the séance, but unlike other mediums of the day (such as the Fox sisters), Home conducted his séances in a brightly lit room and allowed any and all investigations. He was adamant that he had nothing to hide (D.D. Home).
At one of these séances, Home began levitating and flew across the room (D.D. Home). Perhaps more importantly was Home’s ability to heal others. Home claimed he often fell into a trance, and at that time, spirits would tell him where to go and what to do. Through this method, Home was able to fully cure Mr. B-‘s mother from a fatal illness (Home 15).
In England, Home’s popularity grew, and famous names, such as Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Conan Doyle, attended his séances. Robert Browning refused to accept Home’s ability, and immortalized Home in “Sludge the Medium.” However, Elizabeth Barrett Browning disagreed with her husband and believed Home was psychic (Lamont 50).
It wasn’t long before Home fell into a spot of trouble in England when a wealthy widow accused him of scamming her for a great deal of money. Home argued that the money had been freely gifted to him; further, it was only when he refused the widow’s rather obvious sexual passes that she cried foul. In the end, Home was required to return the money, but the pecuniary loss was less of a burden than the loss of his supporters. Many of his faithful supporters were embarrassed by the scandal and subsequently dropped their association with Home (D.D. Home).
Many skeptics have attempted to refute Home’s abilities, but during his life time, he was never debunked.
Home, Daniel Douglas. Incidents in My Life. Original Publication: 1864. New York: Cosimo, 2005. Print.
Lamont, Peter. The First Psychic: The Extraordinary Mystery of a Notorious Victorian Wizard. New York: Abacus, 2005.
Taylor, Troy. “The Man Who Could Fly?” The Haunted Museum. 2002. September 7, 2012. Web.