On 24 October 1917, four days after his marriage, according to Yeats’s not always reliable recollection, his wife surprised him “by attempting automatic writing” (VB 8). Although he suggests, without saying so, that he and George were novices, in fact both of them, but Yeats especially, had been deeply involved in such experiments before their marriage. As a member of the SPR from 1913 to 1928, he had no doubt studied the extensive records of psychical experiments published in the Proceedings of both British and American SPRs. He was also well acquainted with Light,1 the official organ of the London Spiritualist Alliance (EPS 203). In fact, he may have known — and he almost certainly read the work of — William Stainton Moses, first editor of Light and a founding member of the SPR. His widely admired automatic scripts are described in his books Spirit Teachings and Spirit Identity.2 Through these books and publications in Light Moses’ scripts were well known to spirtualistic acquaintances of Yeats, notably Andrew Lang, Sir William Crookes and F. W. H. Myers. Almost certainly Yeats read Myers’s “exhaustive analysis” of the scripts in the Proceedings of the SPR.3 Like the automatic writing of the Yeatses, that of Moses was written in the form of a dialogue and almost wholly in his “own hand, while he was in a normal waking state” (EPS 249).4
KeywordsPreliminary Examination Double Vision Psychic Distance Cyclical Theory White Horse
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- 3.See also Myers, Human Personality… (London, 1903) II, pp. 223–37.Google Scholar
- 37.See Lady Gregory’s Sir Hugh Lane: His Life and Legacy (Gerrards Cross, Bucks.: Colin Smythe, 1973) pp. 209–15.Google Scholar
- 98.Crawford’s Experiments in Psychical Science (1919) was just out, apparently.Google Scholar