Ambrose Bierce was an American short story writer and journalist at the turn of the century. According to Times Magazine, he’s most famous for his short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. His book “The Devil’s Dictionary” was dubbed one of the “100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature”. He was said to have had a “morbid fascination with horror and death”. (Who here can relate?) (Time Magazine). A civil war veteran, Ambrose Bierce accomplished a lot in his 71 + years of life. But it’s his disappearance and presumed death that has had everyone speculating and theorizing over the last hundred years.
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.
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”