Goodrich-Freer, Ada (1857-1931)

views updated May 14 2018

Goodrich-Freer, Ada (1857-1931)

Pioneer psychical researcher who wrote under the pseudonym "Miss X." Goodrich-Freer was born May 15, 1857, in Rutland, England. Mystery surrounds much of her life and parentage, and she appears to have been responsible for the deliberate clouding of many details, probably to impress influential patrons and associates. However, she was also noted for useful research and for her valuable editorial association with W. T. Stead, with whom she coedited the magazine Borderland. In 1905 she married the Reverend Hans H. Spoer, although continuing to be known professionally as "Miss Freer" or "Miss Goodrich-Freer."

She was an early member of the Society for Psychical Research in Britain and an associate of F. W. H. Myers, one of its founders. She was also a member of the Folklore Society. Between 1918 and 1920 she was assistant to her husband, who was then district commander under the Allied high commissioner in Armenia.

In addition to her collaboration with Stead on Borderland, Goodrich-Freer wrote a variety of articles for different journals in folklore and in psychical research, most of which appeared under the pseudonym "Miss X."

In 1897 Goodrich-Freer became involved in an investigation of a haunting at Bellechin. The affair turned into a fiasco, and she and Myers had a heated quarrel that led to a permanent break in relations. The period proved critical for her, since her employment with Stead at Borderland ended and three years later her patron, Lord Bute, died. In 1901 she left England for Palestine and eventually settled in the United States. She dropped out of psychical research during this period, though she wrote a number of books on her travels in the Middle East. She died in New York on February 24, 1931.

History has not treated Goodrich-Freer kindly. John L. Campbell and Trevor H. Hall, who looked over the body of material she left, accused her of a lifetime of falsification and deception, the pseudonym being only a small part of the ruse. She regularly plagiarized from others in her publications, said Campbell and Hall, and was accused of using fraud in her sittings.


Campbell, John L., and Trevor H. Hall. Strange Things. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968.

Goodrich-Freer, Ada. Arabs in Tent and Town. London: Seeley, Service, & Co. Int., 1924.

. Essays in Psychical Research. 2nd ed., London: G. Redway, 1899.

. Inner Jerusalem. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1904.

. Outer Isles. London: A. Constable, 1902.

, and John, Marquess of Bute. The Alleged Haunting of B. House. London: G. Redway, 1899.

Miss X

views updated May 17 2018

"Miss X"

Pseudonym of psychic researcher Ada Goodrich-Freer, used for her early writings on psychic subjects.