Cook, Kate Selina (1859-1923)

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Cook, Kate Selina (1859-1923)

One of the more famous British materialization mediums and sister of Florence Cook, Kate Cook was comparatively less known, as she sat more privately and did not undergo the same scrutiny as her sister.

Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace writes about a series of sittings he attended in My Life (1902):

" They took place in the rooms of Signor Randi, a miniature painter, living in Montague Place, W., in a large reception room, across one corner of which a curtain was hung and a chair placed inside for the medium. There were generally six or seven persons present. Miss Cook and her mother came from North London. Miss Cook always dressed in black, with a lace collar, she wore laced boots and had earrings in her ears.

"In a few minutes after she had entered the cabinet the curtains would be drawn apart and a white-robed female figure would appear and sometimes come out and stand close in front of the curtain. One after another she would beckon to us to come up. We then talked together, the form in whispers; I could look closely into her face, examine the features and hair, touch her hands and might even touch and examine her ears closely, which were not pierced for earrings. The figure had bare feet, was somewhat taller than Miss Cook, and though there was a general resemblance, was quite distinct in features, figure and hair.

"After half an hour or more this figure would retire, close the curtains and sometimes within a few seconds would say 'Come and look.' We then opened the curtains, turned up the lamp, and Miss Cook was found in trance in the chair, her black dress, laced boots, etc., in the most perfect order as when she arrived, while the full-grown, white-robed figure had totally disappeared."

Writing of a séance with Mrs. Ross in New York, Wallace adds:

"But what specially interested me was that two of the figures beckoned to me to come up to the cabinet. One was a beautiful-ly-draped female figure, who took my hand, looked at me smilingly and on my appearing doubtful, said in a whisper that she had often met me at Miss Kate Cook's séances in London. She then let me feel her ears, as I had done before, to prove that she was not the medium. I then saw that she closely resembled the figure with whom I had often talked and joked at Signor Randi's, a fact known to no one in America."

Stainton Moses sat with Kate in 1878, and F. W. Myers sat with her a number of times between 1878 and 1882. Both were impressed with her performance.

In 1907, three years after her sister Florences's death, Kate married her widower. In 1923 she inherited what was left of the fortune wealthy Manchester citizen Charles Blackburn originally put at Florence's and then at Kate's disposal.


Marryat, Florence. There Is No Death. New York: John W. Lovell, 1891. Reprint, New York: Causeway Books, 1973.

Medhurst, R. G., and K. M. Goldney. "William Crookes and the Physical Phenomena of Mediumship." Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 54 (1964): 25.

Wallace, Alfred Russel My Life: A Record of Events and Opinions. London: Chapman & Hall, 1902.