Daniel Dunglas Home was the most celebrated medium of the 19th century. Although his name is not very well known today, he astonished audiences, friends, heads of state, and the rich and famous with startling paranormal feats and levitation. His seemingly impossible powers bewildered those who witnessed them, including many respected scientists and journalists.
Did D. D. Home truly possess extraordinary paranormal abilities? Or was he a gifted magician, far ahead of his time, who was able to fool even the closest of observers with slight of hand and magician's illusions? Although there were certainly many skeptics among his contemporaries who denounced him as a clever fraud, they could never really prove how he accomplished his many incredible demonstrations. To this day, there is much mystery surrounding Home.
A CHARMING PRODIGY
Home (pronounced "Hume") was born in 1833 in Currie, Scotland. Like many people who seek the public spotlight or a presence in "show business," Home seems to have exaggerated or fabricated details of his early life and heritage. For example, he was baptized as Daniel Home and seems to have adopted the middle name of Dunglas. Although he claimed to that his father was the bastard son of the tenth earl of Scotland, his father was actually an ordinary laborer and, by some accounts, an abusive drunk. As a baby, he was adopted by an aunt and at age nine was brought to America where his new family settled in Connecticut.
Home may also have created some myths about his childhood. He said that as an adolescent he began to experience premonitions. At age 17, poltergeist activity would occur when he entered a room: mysterious raps would be heard and furniture would move by itself. Were these stories Home made up to enhance his mystical persona, or were they early signs of unexplained abilities that Home would later be able to control?
Although he had little formal education, as an adult Home could converse intelligently on a number of subjects, could play the piano, and developed an easy wit and charm that facilitated his profession as a "professional house guest." It was at this time that his remarkable abilities came to prominence. His early reputation as a medium was made by his séances, which participants declared as uncanny, and his apparent powers of clairvoyance and healing.
Over his controversial career, these are just some of the feats D. D. Home was seen to perform around the world:
- In a well-lit room before Professor David Wells of Harvard and three other spiritualist investigators, Home caused a table to move all about, even though he stood nowhere near it. It took all the strength of two of the witnesses to restrain the table. Upon its release, the table levitated completely off the floor for several seconds. When Wells and two others sat on the table, it continued to rock. They could find no scientific explanation for the experience.
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