THE SHADOW AND THE LIGHT: A Defence of Daniel Dunglas Home, the Medium by Elizabeth Jenkins

THE SHADOW AND THE LIGHT: A Defence of Daniel Dunglas Home, the Medium

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Previous biographers have not been fair to renowned 19th-century medium D. D. Home, claims historian Jenkins (Elizabeth the Great, The Princes in the Tower). Jenkins, however, goes so far to redress the balance that portions of her book do little more than paraphrase Home's autobiography and his widow's memorial volumes. Worse, Jenkins suppresses faults and incidents that Home freely admitted, and anxiously excuses traits that need no justification. (Home's liking for jewels, for example, was not vanity or greed, ""but was subtly connected with the relation of jewels to the visionary experience."") All this is confounding, since Home needs less special pleading than most figures in spiritualist history. Far from being a pathetic victim, he rose from humble origins to international success as a medium-about-town. Also, uniquely, Home was never exposed, and never even seriously challenged; he was capable of producing more phenomena in a better light than anyone before or since. So he doesn't gain from being classed, by Jenkins, with notorious fakes. But one thing she does provide, as a chronicler also of Victorian murder mysteries, is an exceptionally full account of the celebrated trial, Lyon v. Home. In every other respect, the prime source is still Jean Burton's old (1944) Heyday of a Wizard.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1983
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton--dist. by David & Charles