The Nineteenth Century: Medicine, Spiritualism and Christianity

  • Jonathan Barry
Part of the Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic book series (PHSWM)


This chapter considers three alternative (but linked) approaches to supernatural accounts in the nineteenth century. The first exemplifies their treatment as the product of hallucinations or mental illness if not of fraud as exemplified by essayist Leigh Hunt. Those interested in mesmerism and then spiritualism, such as Dr John Ashburner and William Howitt, sought to harness the power of invisible forces for healing, and to foster a revitalized Christianity against materialism. For those wedded either to biblical fundamentalism or Anglo-Catholicism (such as Rev. Frederick George Lee) spiritualism was the latest manifestation of the Devil’s operations, and the Perks story illustrated the dangers of exploring a spirit world which was a kingdom of darkness.


mesmerism spiritualism Victorian medicine Leigh Hunt Victorian Christianity 


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Copyright information

© Jonathan Barry 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Barry
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ExeterUK

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