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William Eglinton

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William Eglinton
BornLouis William Eglington
July 10, 1857
Islington, London
DiedMarch 10, 1933 (age 75)
Bromley Kent

William Eglinton (1857–1933). also known as William Eglington. was a British spiritualist medium who was exposed as a fraud.


Eglinton, born in London, claimed to materialize spirits in his séances. The accounts of his séances were dramatic and included a number of materializations that took place outdoors and in broad daylight.[1]

In 1876 Eglinton was exposed as a fraud when the psychical researcher Thomas Colley seized the "spirit" materialization and cut off a portion of its cloak. It was discovered that the cut piece matched a cloth found in Eglinton's suitcase. Colley also pulled the beard off the materialization and it was revealed to be a fake, the same as another one found in the suitcase of Eglinton.

In 1882, Harry Kellar was baffled by an alleged levitation of Eglinton. Massimo Polidoro has written that Kellar did not "impose any form of control" and "couldn't see anything" in the dark séance room but still convinced himself Eglinton levitated. According to Harry Houdini although Kellar was originally baffled by Eglinton's levitation when he gave the subject fuller consideration he was able to reproduce the same phenomena by trickery. Houdini wrote "it was not strange that Kellar did not detect Eglinton's method instantly nor is it strange that he acknowledged that he was baffled. No magician is immune from being deceived and it is no way beneath a magician's dignity or demeaning to professional reputation to openly admit that he cannot always account for what he thinks he sees." Magic historian Barry Wiley wrote Eglinton was exposed as a fraud several years later.

In 1886 the spiritualist John Stephen Farmer wrote a biography of Eglinton. Eglinton performed Slate Writing and his leading critics were the psychical researchers Eleanor Sidgwick and Richard Hodgson. In 1886 and 1887 a series of publications by S. J. Davey, Hodgson and Sidgwick in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research exposed the slate writing tricks of Eglinton. Due to the critical papers, Stainton Moses and other prominent spiritualist members resigned from the SPR.

Hereward Carrington has written that Eglinton was involved with Madame Blavatsky in producing fraudulent Mahatma letters.


  • Twixt two worlds: a narrative of the life and work of William Eglinton (1886), by John S. Farmer


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  • Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, Vol. 1, (A-L), Eglinton, William (1858–1933), page 477