Swaffer, Hannen (1879-1962)

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Swaffer, Hannen (1879-1962)

Journalist, drama critic, author, and publicist for Spiritualism. He was born on November 1, 1879, in Lindfield, Sussex, England, and was educated at Stroud Green Grammar School. The family moved to London, where young Swaffer discovered that his neighbor was a journalist; he immediately decided that this would be his profession. Many years later, that neighbor worked for Swaffer on the Weekly Dispatch.

Swaffer joined the Daily Mail in 1902 and spent a number of years working under Lord Northcliffe, becoming, in succession, news editor, art editor, night editor, and assistant editor of the Daily Mirror. He originated a gossip column in the Daily Sketch that was soon extensively copied by other newspapers. He also worked on the Daily Herald and was drama critic for the Daily Express. He was editor of the Weekly Dispatch, and later he was editor of The People. For many years, "Swaff" was a familiar and eccentric figure in London's Fleet Street, center of the national newspaper offices. He affected somewhat Bohemian dress, as befitted a drama critic, and was popularly known as "The Poet."

He became convinced of survival in 1924, through attending direct voice sittings with the medium Gladys Osborne Leonard in the circle of H. Dennis Bradley. These sittings were strongly evidential of the survival of Swaffer's old chief Lord Northcliffe, who had died in 1922. Swaffer published accounts of the séances in The People and created a sensation with his book Northcliffe's Return (1924).

He became an indefatigable propagandist for Spiritualism, and argued that Spiritualism and socialism were two halves of one great whole. He succeeded Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as honorary president of the Spiritualists' National Union and the Spiritualist Community, and he was connected with other Spiritualist organizations.

In 1932, Swaffer was one of the three cofounders of the well-known British newspaper Psychic News the other two were his accountant Jack Rubens and his friend Maurice Barbanell (who was editor for many years). He died January 16, 1962.


Driburg, Tom. "Swaff": The Life and Times of Hannen Swaffer. London: Macdonald, 1974.

Swaffer, Hannen. Adventures with Inspiration. N.p., 1929.

.Behind the Scenes. N.p., 1928.

.Hannen Swaffer's Who's Who. London: Hutchinson,1929.

. Norcliffe's Return. London: Hutchinson, 1925.

.Studies in Psychology. N.p., 1933.