Everyone has heard of Agatha Christie. She wrote during the golden age of detective fiction, and she’s been crowned as the Queen of the Cozy Mystery. She’s written at least 74 books, including “Murder on the Orient Express”, “And then there were none”, and “Death on the Nile”. But there’s one mystery that she didn’t write. Instead, she lived it.
On December 3, 1926, Agatha Christie went into her seven-year-old daughter Rosalind’s bedroom in their home in Berkshire, England, and she kissed her on the cheek goodnight. Then, she got into her car and drove away. She wouldn’t be discovered for another ten days. Not only did she go missing for ten days, but when she was found, she claimed to have absolutely no memory of where she’d been or what she’d done.
The oldest bookstore in America, the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has been continuously running for over 270 years. There are some solid arguments that it’s actually the longest running bookstore in all of the world (Sullivan, 2016). Of course, a place like this would pick up a few ghosts over the centuries. There are at least two spirits haunting this bookstore—if you believe the stories, of course.
Today’s blog post is a little shorter, because I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and I’m writing an entire book in just thirty days. I don’t have many words to spare! I picked this story to dissect because there isn’t much evidence supporting or refuting the claims of the people who’ve seen strange things in this bookshop. But it still makes for a fascinating story…
In 1912, a St. Louis, Missouri housewife named Pearl Lenore Curran had a good friend and writer named Emily Grant Hutchings over for a visit. Emily brought a Ouija board with her, because she was interested in the resurgence in “spiritualism” that had taken over America at this time (Carroll, 2015). They experimented with the Ouija board, but it wasn’t until almost a year later that Pearl received her first message from the beyond.
Pearl began to channel the writings of “Patience Worth”, a British woman from the seventeenth century. Pearl would sit at the Ouija board, her hands whipping the planchard back and forth as her husband, John, transcribed the many poems, short stories, and novels of this seventeenth century author. Patience could also take over Pearl’s mouth, engaging the many scholars who came to observe this miraculous feat in delightful conversation. She also took over her hands, as Pearl later wrote by hand with what is considered “automatic writing”. Pearl/Patience would come up with poems at the drop of a hat, given only a prompt from a skeptical onlooker. Many scholars at the time praised her work, and they didn’t know what to believe (Diliberto, 2010). Was she writing these fully composed works of fiction off the top of her head? Or was she truly channelling the spirit of a seventeenth century writer? Otto Heller, Dean of Washington University’s Graduate School said: “I still confess myself completely baffled by the experience” (Diliberto, 2010). Many books have been written about her, and some, like Edgar Lee Masters, believed wholeheartedly that she was a true medium, while others, like Harry Houdini, believed her to be a fraud (Schlueter, 2012). Continue reading “A Genuine “Ghost” Writer”→
What do you do if your library has a ghost that’s so active she’s been seen floating among the stacks by numerous people over several decades? You issue her a library card! That’s exactly what the staff at the Bernardsville Public Library in New Jersey did. Although, their ghost hasn’t checked anything out. At least, not yet…
This post is going to dissect the story of Phyllis Parker, the ghost who haunts the Bernardsville Public Library. But this is more than just any old ghost story. This is a story of true love and high intrigue that deviates slightly from your typical bodice ripper.
With Halloween just around the corner, I’ve decided to deviate from my typical library and book-related theme. Much to my delight, horror movies have been playing on some TV channels around the clock. I’ve been reading The Amityville Horror, a book which inspired a classic movie and a whole slew of lame sequels. The book, however, just so happens to be based on a true story. A lot of horror movies are based on true stories: The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, The Girl Next Door, The Conjuring… But there’s one movie that’s based on a true story that you wouldn’t expect. This is a real head scratcher. The film is the 1958 B-movie, “The Blob”.
For those of you who have never seen it, the movie is about a a strange “blob” that falls out of outer space, but it doesn’t just sit there. It oozes around, consuming people, and, of course, getting bigger. The movie stars Steve McQueen in his first leading role. This isn’t a review of the movie, so I’ll just link to this trailer for “The Blob”, and you can watch it for yourself if you’re interested, before I tell you the “true” story.
Now, how can a movie about a killer “blob” be based on a true story? Let me tell you…
What happens in the archives stays in the archives. Nothing more true can be said of the Archives in the Vatican. Built long before their official establishment in 1475, the Vatican Archives are shrouded in mystery. They are called “Archivum Secretum Apostolicum Vaticanum”, which is Latin for “The Vatican’s Secret Archives”. Talk about being subtle. Almost every Roman Catholic conspiracy theory is linked back to these archives, probably because of this veil of secrecy surrounding them. Containing 53 million miles worth of books, they’re typically not open to the public, and historically only carefully vetted scholars have been allowed to enter. However, in 2010, following the release of the movie based on Dan Brown’s book “The Da Vinci Code”, there was an uprising in paranoia about the Illuminati, whether or not this secret society truly exists, and if their roots are really buried deep in the Vatican’s Secret Archives. To fend off some of these rumours, the Archives opened their doors to allow for select members of the public and journalists (Squires, 2010). But it’s safe to assume that the most sensitive areas of the Archives aren’t a part of the tour…
In addition to the Illuminati, there are many other well-known conspiracy theories surrounding the Vatican (“6 Creepy Conspiracy Theories,” 2016). These include the theory (or fact?) that these archives hold the largest pornography collection in the world, and that they contain evidence of Jesus Christ’s bloodline. Some say that the evidence proves that he was not the Messiah, which is definitely something that the church would want to keep hidden away for all of eternity. But I’m not going to talk about the conspiracy theories that have already been analyzed in excruciating detail.
In this post, I’m going to talk about a lesser known conspiracy theory. The theory that the Vatican Secret Archives holds a time machine.
An ironic ghost haunts the basement of Attic Books, an antiquarian and used bookstore in London, Ontario. I’ve decided to start BibliOccult with this story, because not only have I been to this bookstore, but I may have encountered its spirit. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Built in the mid-to-late 1800s, the stunning red brick building on 240 Dundas Street was initially only one storey, with the first and second storeys being added during renovations in 1880. The gargoyle, which adds a Gothic look to the building, was only added in 1996 (1).
The building has housed many businesses over the last century and a half. The first inhabitant of note is Abraham Spry. He worked as a tailor in the building in 1875 (1). However, he only stayed there a year before moving on, transferring his business to another building on Dundas Street. It’s my understanding that he didn’t stay there long enough to grow attached to the building. He didn’t stay there long enough to die.
Welcome to BibliOccult, Library of the Odd, the Obscure, and the Occult. Other than the fact that I clearly love alliteration, what does that tell you about this blog? This will be a place where you can find a variety of posts to tickle your fancy and send chills down your spine. If you thrive on the bizarre, and you’re intrigued by the unknown, then you’ve come to the right place.
Updated weekly, this website will curate strange (but not always supernatural) stories from the news and from history, as well as the occasional book or film review. I’m fascinated by the supernatural, especially ghosts, so they’ll be a highlight of this blog. In addition to being a librarian, I’m a murderino with a forensics degree, so there will inevitably be some analyses of unexplained murders (and their subsequent hauntings) thrown into the mix.
If you’re interested, click follow. The first official post will be on Friday the 13th. I look forward to unnerving you soon…