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Cover of Women, Madness and Spiritualism

Women, Madness and Spiritualism

Edited by Roy Porter; Helen Nicholson; Bridget Bennett

  • Published: 11 Nov 2004
  • DOI: 10.4324/9780415276337
  • Set ISBN: 9780415276337

Set Contents

Susan Willis Fletcher


Towards the end of Twelve Months in an English Prison, Susan Willis Fletcher describes the sense of compulsion that drove her to write her narrative as soon as she had finished serving her prison sentence. She writes, ‘Every morning, from six o’clock to nine, I worked upon this story of my life, and my recent experiences, which I wished to record while fresh in my memory’ (p. 408). Read on its own, this seems like a conventional autobiographical sentiment that might come out of the memoirs of many a woman of the period who had some experience of public life and believed her life worthy of public inspection. Yet this is at odds with the book’s title that promises drama of a different order. Furthermore, the staggeringly blunt and frank first sentence of the book goes wholly against the notion of conventional middle-class female autobiography and throws the reader into an episode of nineteenth-century sensation that involved lack of convention at a whole range of levels: religious; sexual; social; gender. Fletcher writes, ‘In the summer of 1880, while visiting my mother in the United States, I was arrested on a charge of obtaining jewels and clothing of great value, by undue influence or false pretences, from a lady known as Mrs. Juliet Anne Theodora Heurtley Rickard Hart-Davis’ (p. 1). Her first arrest, as the book shows, took place while she was in the United States, though the case was dismissed when Hart-Davis left the country and returned to Britain before it came to court. It was her second arrest, which took place when Fletcher crossed the Atlantic to face charges made against her in Britain, that led to her imprisonment and to wide international coverage in the spiritualist and non-spiritualist press. The book describes her trial and imprisonment, but also her international career as a professional spiritualist medium and lecturer.

Volume Contents

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    Front Matter
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    11
    Introduction: Twelve Months in an English Prison (1884) By Susan Willis Fletcher
  • Twelve Months in an English Prison (Boston: Lee and Shepard; New York: Charles T. Dillingham, 1884)
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      I
      My Story
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      II
      Some Very Childish Manifestations
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      III
      Further Development, and an Early Marriage
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      IV
      My Dedication
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      V
      A Divorce.—An Engagement.—A Marriage
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      VI
      Our Future Revealed
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      VII
      A New Home and New Manifestations
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      VIII
      Remarkable Tests and Special Providences
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      IX
      Mr. Fletcher Visits Egypt and Palestine, and Wesettle in London
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      X
      22 Gordon Street, and Mrs. Hart-Davies
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      XI
      The Story of the Jewels and the Deed of Gift
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      XII
      How She Came to Live With us, and Went to Tours
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      XIII
      We Get More, Not to Say Better, Acquainted
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      XIV
      Our Excursion to America
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      XV
      New York, Boston, Camp-Meeting, Dr. Mack, Andsignor Rondi
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      XVI
      What Happened at the Camp-Meeting
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      XVII
      My First Night in Prison, and What Came of it
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      XVIII
      From Boston to Bow Street, London
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      XIX
      Before Mr. Flowers at Bow Street
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      XX
      I am Admitted to Bail, and the Government Prosecutes
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      XXI
      A Cross-Examination
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      XXII
      Cross-Examination Continued
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      XXIII
      Influence of the Press
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      XXIV
      Forty Yards of Indictment
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      XXV
      The Old Bailey
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      XXVI
      The Opening of the Case
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      XXVII
      The Testimony and Cross-Examination
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      XXVIII
      Speeches of Counsel, Witnesses to Character, and a Fatal Surrender
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      XXIX
      Sir Henry Hawkins’s Charge to the Jury, Verdict, and Sentence
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      XXX
      Some Comments on the Case
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      XXXI
      In the Pillory
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      XXXII
      The Other Side
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      XXXIII
      Some Comments on the Case
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      XXXIV
      Her Majesty’s Prison, Westminster
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      XXXV
      Prisoners and Prison-Life
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      XXXVI
      Spirits in Prison
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      XXXVII
      An Insane Prisoner
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      XXXVIII
      A Visit to my Husband
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      XXXIX
      Flowers Brought to my Cell.—A Lock of Hair and a Letter
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      XL
      Instantaneous Transmission of Letters Between London and Calcutta.—Manifestations of Spirit-power
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      XLI
      Further Experiences
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      XLII
      Release of a Prisoner.—Celebrating a Birthday
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      XLIII
      Memorials and Petitions to the Home Secretary
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      XLIV
      A Plea for Prison-Reform
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      XLV
      Freedom
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      XLVI
      At Liberty in London.—A Farewell Seance, and a Farewell to England
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      Appendix I
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      Appendix II
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      Appendix III
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      Appendix IV
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      Appendix V
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      Appendix VI