Verrall, Margaret de Gaudrion Merrifield (1859-1916)

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Verrall, Margaret de Gaudrion Merrifield (1859-1916)

Prominent British psychical researcher, medium and lecturer in classics at Newnham College. She was born December 21, 1859, at Brighton, England, and educated at Newnham College, Cambridge University. She married A. W. Verrall, the well-known classical scholar, in 1882.

Verrall joined the Society for Psychical Research, London, in 1889. She wrote a number of papers for the Proceedings at the request of Frederic William Henry Myers, held sittings with the medium Leonora S. Piper when she visited England, and was elected to the Council in 1901.

Eventually she developed psychic powers herself and in 1901 through automatic writing obtained the first significant results after the death of Myers. Afterwards she produced hundreds of scripts which often contained matter of paranormal interest. In 1906, she published an analysis of her own scripts in the society's Proceedings which formed the starting point of a serious study in cross-correspondence.

Sir Oliver Lodge paid the following tribute to Verrall in his book The Survival of Man (1909):

"The fame of Mrs. Piper has spread into all lands, and I should think the fame of Mrs. Verrall also. In these recent cases of automatism the society has been singularly fortunate, for in the one we have a medium who has been under strict supervision and competent management for the greater part of her psychical life; and in the other we have one of the sanest and acutest of our own investigators, fortunately endowed with some power herself, some power of acting as translator or interpreter between the psychical and the physical worlds."

After years of experiments and testing, Verrall concluded: "It cannot be denied that the 'communicator' of the Piper sittings and of my own scripts presents a consistent personality dramatically resembling that of the person he claims to be. I entirely acquiesce in this judgment. The boundary between the two statesthe known and the unknownis still substantial, but it is wearing thin in places; and we are at liberty, not indeed to announce any definite conclusion, but to adopt as a working hypothesis the ancient doctrine of a possible intercourse of intelligence between the material and some other, perhaps ethereal order of existence."

She died July 2, 1916, at Cambridge. Her daughter Helen married W. H. Salter, another prominent psychical researcher.

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Verrall, Margaret de Gaudrion Merrifield (1859-1916)

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