The spirit photographs of William Hope

01.13.09

If you saw the exhibition or have read the catalogue The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult and you just cannot get enough of those great photographic mediums then just take a look at this Flickr set of spirit photographs of William Hope from the National Media Museum’s photostream which I learned about via iheartphotograph.com.

William Hope, Mrs Bentley and the spirit of her deceased sister. Taken some time in 1920

William Hope, Man surrounded by signs of spirit presence. Taken some time in 1920.

“These photographs of ‘spirits’ are taken from an album of photographs unearthed in a Lancashire second-hand and antiquarian bookshop by one of the Museum’s curators. They were taken by a controversial medium called William Hope (1863-1933).

Born in 1863 in Crewe, Hope started his working life as a carpenter. In about 1905 he became interested in spirit photography after capturing the supposed image of a ghost while photographing a friend.

He went on to found the Crewe Circle – a group of six spirit photographers led by Hope. When Archbishop Thomas Colley joined the group they began to publicise their work.

Following World War I support for the Crewe Circle grew as the grieving relatives of those lost to the war sought a means of contacting their loved ones.

By 1922 Hope had moved to London where he became a professional medium. The work of the Crew Circle was investigated on various occasions.

The most famous of these took place in 1922, when the Society for Psychical Research sent Harry Price to investigate the group.

Price collected evidence that Hope was substituting glass plates bearing ghostly images in order to produce his spirit photographs.

Later the same year Price published his findings, exposing Hope as a fraudster. However, many of Hope’s most ardent supporters spoke out on his behalf, the most famous being Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Hope continued to practice, despite his exposure. He died in London on 7 March 1933.”

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One Response to “The spirit photographs of William Hope”


  1. these are amaaaazing.

    i have an old art in america article that i think would be of interest to you. i’ll try to remember to bring it by next time i’m at your place.

    chris


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