The following is the complete contents of Chapter 14 of Dr Tabori's biography of Harry Price which comprises a series of short essays by people who knew or worked with him. They are Mrs. Helen Bobby, Sidney Glanville, C.E.M. Joad, René Sudre, Hereward Carrington and Lucy Kaye
At the end of September, 1946, Harry Price sent my brother a copy of his book The Last [End] of Borley Rectory. They had never met but had probably known of each other in some business way. Joan (Mrs. Bobby's daughter) was then in a sanatorium and at that time we had no doubts of her ultimate recovery. My brother, knowing her keen interest in all such matters (probably inherited through myself and my Cornish father), sent the book on to her and in his letter of thanks to Harry Price said what he had done. By return of post Harry Price asked if there were any more books of his Joan would like, as most of them were out of print and he would be glad to lend her his own copies. I remember so well how she chose the ones from the list Harry Price sent. She, Eileen
(Joan's sister) and I were a little amused, but very pleased and that Sunday evening I sent her list on to my brother. The following Sunday she had the books, with which she was thrilled, and a delightful letter from Harry Price telling her special points about them and asking her opinion on certain aspects. From that time until Christmas I imagine they probably wrote about half a dozen letters to each other, but little was said and I don't know. After Christmas, Joan was moved to a special ward, where we hoped she would get strong enough for the operation which we hoped would cure her, and she wrote to her friends telling them of this and saying she would not be writing for some time as entire rest was necessary.
Early in March, Joan asked me to return the books, she had read them and was most interested, so I sent them back to Harry Price, and on March 11, 1947, received an answer saying he had thought so much about Joan and could he write to her. From that time he became her mainstay in life. Apparently he always wrote of the things she loved - birds and books and the country - always seeming to know her thoughts. But, of course, she never wrote any answers. On April 1, I had news from the sanatorium that we could see her at any time, which, of course, meant there was no hope; her strength could not be built up and the operation was impossible. I telephoned her sister, who was to us both a tower of strength, and almost the first thing Eileen said was: "You must write and tell Harry Price, I would not have him hear it suddenly for anything." I wrote at once and by return I had a frantic letter from him asking if nothing could be done. He was willing to fly a specialist from Germany or fly her anywhere for treatment. I could set anything in motion and he would pay the bills. Of course I knew there was nothing to be done; everything had been tried. But such a letter stiffened both Eileen and me and helped us enormously.
Now Joan had been worrying a little. She had said "It's all right while you're alive, Mummy, but I'm never going to be very strong and I shall hate to be dependent on other people." That was a worry neither Eileen nor I
could dispel, but in some miraculous way Harry Price did it. What his letters to her said of course we did not know (we burnt them all the day she died), but during the April (she died on the 27th) she was completely happy. She had no doubt about her future (and she thought she would far outlive me) - that was secure with Harry Price. So extraordinary for such an independent young person, who couldn't even bear the thought of accepting help from the kindest uncles in the world!
The odd thing was that there was nothing sentimental about this friendship. It really had no beginning and no end; it was born complete. All through those weeks I heard regularly from Harry Price. Anything Joan wanted she was to have. Her wants were very few, just flowers and fruit, and then on April 24 came her 26th birthday. That was on a Thursday, and until the Monday I would have no preparations made, but I felt then that she would just live for that day. Harry Price had asked what he could send her and on that Sunday we discussed it. Joan had a passion for rings, but Eileen and I were giving her one, and another she had had recently, so she said: "Tell Harry Price to send me a little bangle I can wear in bed". This of course I did, never mentioning anything about rings. On the Tuesday he rang me up at the office and said: "I know what I am going to send Joan. It's a ring!" When I got to the sanatorium on the Thursday, there was Joan propped up in bed surrounded by flowers, letters, cards, telegrams and presents, and on her hand, Eileen's and my ring and a beautiful single stone diamond ring set in platinum from Harry Price.
The odd thing about it was that it fitted her perfectly, and Eileen and I could neither of us get it even on our little fingers. (This ring I of course returned to him on the day of Joan's funeral. It gave her immense happiness.) That was the last time I saw her. She died quite peacefully in her sleep on Sunday morning, and when Eileen and I went down to the sanatorium there, above her empty bed, were wireless earphones specially fitted up and a letter from Harry Price telling her that he would
be broadcasting for a few minutes in "Monday Night at 8."
Harry Price came to her funeral. There he met my brother and Eileen for the first time (I had heard him lecture at Edgware on Borley Rectory). I gave him a photograph of Joan and he said: "I knew she looked like that." I believe that was the truth. I cannot explain any of it. We grew to accept it as a miracle that gave Joan the peace which the world cannot give and which will keep our own faith strong. Harry Price himself told me he could not explain it. He never remembered even making such an offer of lending his books before. To us both there was no explanation, but it was a beautiful fact.
The next contribution is by Mr. Sidney H. Glanville, who was a friend and neighbour of Harry Price's for many years and played an important part in the Borley investigation.
My first meeting with Harry Price was many years ago when, uninvited, I called on him at his home in Pulborough, a few miles from the Sussex village in which I live. Looking back, I am surprised that he received me with such kindness and patience, because in later years I was to learn that he had a very pronounced dislike of casual visitors to his home. Callers to his rooms in Berkeley Street, Piccadilly, came by the score and were enthusiastically welcomed. They came from all parts of the country and from overseas, but his home was a refuge. Here in the quiet comfort of his study and free from interruption he did nearly all his writing.
For many years before this meeting I had been an interested observer of the supernormal, and the purpose of my visit was to ask his advice on a matter connected with apparent psychic phenomena; but as he had been listening to very similar incidents for over thirty years, perhaps it
was not surprising that his response was not very enthusiastic. It was a chance remark disclosing the fact that I was connected with the engineering industry that aroused his interest and brought us closer together.
If ever a man was born an inquisitor, it was Harry Price. He had an almost boyish love of anything that "worked" either mechanically or electrically. Any description of machinery or piece of apparatus interested him and as my own sphere of activity brought me into close contact with many different types of engineering and experimental work, it was not difficult to hold his attention. He had a wide experience of mechanics himself and had designed and made many pieces of ingenious apparatus for his own use in research. It was this knowledge that contributed in no small measure to the undoing of some of the spurious mediums whom he had examined and exposed, and also enabled him and his co-investigators to prove beyond reasonable doubt the existence of genuine phenomena. Had he chosen a commercial career instead of giving his life to psychical investigation and writing and had gone into one of the branches of industrial engineering, he would almost certainly have been successful.
Our friendship grew quickly and in due course I became intimately associated with him not only in his work but in his home. Although he spent a large part of his time arranging and attending meetings in London, lecturing in all parts of the country and travelling here and abroad, he always returned to his home as fast as transport could carry him. It was here, where he and his wife lived for over forty years, that the happiest part of his life was spent. He had a great affection for West Sussex and was never tired of looking across the valley of the river Arun, which formed one boundary of his garden, to the Downs beyond. The river here is popular with amateur fishermen, but I do not think he ever indulged in this pastime although his land included a hundred yards of river bank. He was a particularly humane man and the taking of life for amusement was distasteful to him.
An outstanding trait was his love for dogs, and between himself and his wife, who has no less an affection for
them, a "dog's life" at their home was a thing to be envied by many a human being. Then one of his minor hobbies was the breeding and keeping of gold-fish. Some of them were over twenty years old, and when there was an idle moment, he would sit on the dwarf wall of the large fishpond in the garden and feed them, holding out the food which they would, by leaping up, snatch from his fingers. When he first started keeping them he was very puzzled by the disappearance of some of the fish overnight. This went on for some time until, one morning when he had risen unusually early, he looked out of the window and saw a heron standing motionless in the pond! The undesirable visitor no doubt came from Parham Park, a few miles away, which retains one of the oldest heronries in England. Apart from the fishponds, of which there are two, I do not think he was interested in the garden or in gardening. His interests lay inside the house and in his study particularly.
To a layman his mail was an alarming affair. I have seen his study table piled with letters from all parts of the world and overflowing on to chairs. All these had to be read (which would sometimes require translation from a foreign language) and many of them answered. Some of them entailed a good deal of work, checking references, hunting up information or giving the titles of books where the details sought could be found. His stationery and stamp account must have been a considerable item in the year. Replies to some of these letters would be dictated to his secretary for typing, some would be of little value and relegated to the waste paper basket, but to a very large number he would reply with his own hand. The bulk of the correspondence was naturally concerned with his own subject, psychic phenomena, and during the last few years there had accumulated several hundreds of cases of alleged poltergeist activities. These arrived almost daily from all parts of the country, from castle and cottage, until one got the impression that these interesting affairs were epidemic. All of them were no doubt sent in good faith, but the majority of them which were investigated could not be substantiated and had to be
discarded. Some, of course, were true poltergeist manifestations and were carefully examined and the findings filed for reference. This was harder work than it may sound, but for the last two years of his life the heart trouble from which he suffered (and from which he ultimately died) was becoming more evident, and he was feeling the strain of dealing with so much detail. Nevertheless, and despite medical advice to rest, he continued his work writing books and articles, many of them for American periodicals, lecturing in the provinces and at the Universities, investigating alleged phenomena and travelling to London on several days a week.
All his life, books had a fascination for him and despite the thousands he had presented to the University of London Council for Psychical Investigation, he still possessed a very large number in his own library and most of these he bequeathed to the University under his will. These were not only books dealing with psychic matters but included works on topography, microscopy, archaeology, mechanics, chemistry and many other subjects. I never saw him reading a work of fiction or remember him speaking of one. Informative books were his favourite and almost exclusive reading.
Two of the outstanding features of his own books were the ample foot-notes, of which he never omitted to give the sources and the indices. He would take immense trouble in compiling an index and they are models of clarity and thoroughness. A badly indexed book, and there are all too many of them, was anathema to him.
Of the twenty or so books which he wrote, I believe the two best to be Search for Truth and Fifty Years of Psychical Research. Neither of these are scientific works nor were they intended to be. They are the result of some thirty years of intimate connection and observation of an absorbing but difficult subject and written for the attention of those who have not the time, inclination or opportunity for making a study of supernormal phenomena. These two books are not to be compared with the Bulletins and Papers issued by the National Laboratory of Psychical Investigation, of which he was the founder and
director. They dealt with purely laboratory experiments and investigations of the claims of many celebrated mediums, including Rudi Schneider, Stella C., Eleonore Zugun and many others who had voluntarily submitted themselves for examination. These are therefore intended for the use of people who are interested to consider the recorded results of literally thousands of laborious tests. Then there are the two books on Borley Rectory ("The Most Haunted House in England") which will probably stand by themselves as a record of the most extraordinary supernormal manifestations which ever took place in one house.
During his writing life he was the subject of a good deal of criticism. I do not know of any writer on such an elusive and contentious matter who has not had his full share of detraction. A lot of the criticism, as is so often the case, came from those who were less informed than their victim and sometimes from those who had their own reasons for trying to discredit the validity of the evidence. To these disapprobations I never heard him reply with any bitterness either in speech or writing. He took them all in his stride. On the other hand, he had the respect and support of a very much larger public than his critics, including dignitaries of the Church, scientists, lawyers and eminent laymen.
There were some who accused him of egotism. I do not know whether egotism and conceit are synonymous terms, but if he was egotistical in speaking too much of his own work, he was not conceited or prone to self-praise. He knew too well his own limitations and shortcomings. In his autobiography, Search for Truth, he says: "I am afraid I have used the capital letter 'I' rather freely ... I apologise." In the same vein, did not Sir Edward Marsh once remark, in rising to reply to a toast to himself, that "If I speak of myself, I shall appear egotistical and, if I do not, I shall be irrelevant"? It is not easy to please everyone. Again, although he could be very positive, he was not dogmatic and was always ready to consider an opinion contrary to his own if he felt it to be right or more convincing.
Like many people who have their share of self-assurance, he was very sensitive to being found in error. I remember an occasion when we were making a recording at Broadcasting House and his script gave the line: "So you actually saw the ghostly coach?" What he in fact said, was: "So you actually saw the ghastly coach?" The recording was immediately stopped by the producer who pointed out the slip. A look of utter astonishment and then indignation crossed his face and he started to defend himself, when a sepulchral voice from a loud-speaker grill in the wall said, "Sorry, but I've got it here." He was apologetic and crestfallen at being the cause of a repetition of the scene. I think it really hurt him. Those who have faced the unresponsive ear of the microphone will no doubt sympathise.
I suppose most of us have some queer little idiosyncrasies and his lay in allowing himself little personal extravagances. For instance, he was a fairly heavy pipe smoker but would use only those made by a well-known London maker. Nothing but Balkan Sobranie Mixture would satisfy him. There was always a large tin on his writing table and his cigars and cigarettes were the best obtainable. His car was a Rolls-Royce saloon. Even the cakes for the tea-table were regularly supplied by a world famous shop in Piccadilly. And I have never seen anyone else with such an array of fountain pens and propelling pencils with black, blue, red and green leads; a particularly large pen was his favourite and with this he wrote at least six of his last books. Then the workshop with its electrically driven lathe and tool kit, capable of meeting any eventuality, would be the envy of most amateurs. There was nothing ostentatious about this; it was merely that the best of everything gave him innate satisfaction and pleasure. On the other hand, he had no interest whatever in clothes and no cajoling on the part of Mrs. Price would make him buy a new hat. The older and more decrepit the hat, the greater was his affection for it; and the same can be said of his suits. If tailors and hatters can die of heartbreak, his must surely have departed this life long ago.
Perhaps it was natural that he was regarded by a wide public as a man of one subject, psychic phenomena. This was incorrect, because he had a great deal of knowledge of other matters, such as numismatics, astronomy, Roman Britain, microscopy and optics, photography and cinematography. He was completely familiar with all the processes of paper-making and printing, apart from the production of his own books. An unusual hobby, known to only a very few of his intimate friends, was pistol-shooting, and I remember his chagrin at having to surrender his two .45 automatics to the police during the war. I am glad to say that, in due course, he received them back in perfect condition.
From the time he founded the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, it was his ambition to see a Chair of Psychical Science established at the University of London. He did not speak much of this, but I know it was an end towards which he worked unceasingly. His writings, lectures, investigations and indeed most of his activities were all directed towards this goal. He was not a rich man at any time and did not regard the making of money, to the exclusion of other interests, as an admirable thing. But a considerable proportion of the income derived from his writings was spent on the purchase of books which he presented to the library of the University of London, some thirteen thousand volumes. Whether this Chair will become a reality lies in the hands of others - but if it does, the name of Harry Price should be one of the most prominent in that connection.
On Easter Monday last I passed him while driving through Pulborough and we waved a hand to each other. Little did I think it was a greeting and a farewell; for a few hours later I received a message telling me that he had died while seated in his study chair. His life could not have come to an end in a more appropriate place. By his passing psychical research lost an outstanding worker and I lost a friend for whom I had a very great regard and respect.
Dr. C. E. M. Joad needs no introduction. His name has figured on many pages o f this biography. Here he pays his tribute to his friend.
For eight years of my life Harry Price was one of my best friends, and in his company I enjoyed some of the most diverting experiences which the gods have been good enough to grant me, culminating in a riotous forty-eight hours spent in not turning a goat into a young man on the top of the Brocken. I can still see Harry Price, in spotless evening dress, drawing magic circles at midnight round the goat, while around the circumference of the circle there milled turbulent mobs of young Nazis and young Communists - the period was a month or so before the Nazis' counter-revolution - turning the occasion into a demonstration of their antipathies.
I can still feel the blow on the nose received in his company from a piece of soap thrown by an alleged poltergeist, and see myself being photographed with Harry in an allegedly haunted bed, after a tussle between three photographers, each of whom claimed that he had the exclusive right of taking photographs for his paper. Just above our heads there hung a bell rope, and on waking up in the light of early morning we noticed that it was swinging. Harry, greatly excited, hailed this as a phenomenon. It was only later that we discovered that the District Railway ran under the house and every time a train passed, its vibrations set the rope in motion.
And so on, and so on! . . . .
There is no end to my recollections of diversion and instruction in Harry's company. I say "recollections" as if somehow I had lost him. But you cannot lose such a man by his death; only by your own. And so, till then, I continue to rejoice in him.
Another distinguished name in the preceding pages is that of M. René Sudre, the eminent French writer and educator. From Paris he sent the following appreciation of Harry Price and his works.
I first met Harry Price at the time when we both arrived, in one way or another, at our "conversion" that is, we both recognised the reality of psychical phenomena. This was a little before 1923. I was at that time the close collaborator of Dr. Geley at the Institut Métapsychique International and I was striving to induce the men of science to adopt my own, very recent, conviction. But Price's conversion was more important than mine because I had no preconceived opinion about these extraordinary facts while he was held to be, until then, a resolute adversary of this kind of study. He was known as the terror of mediums because he could explain all their exploits by conjuring. In this last-named field he had acquired a very great reputation. He had thrown what might be called "cold light" upon the famous spirit photographs of Hope and Mrs. Deane, which he considered impudent frauds. In England Conan Doyle and in France Pascal Forthuny had come to the defence of the attacked mediums.
I presented the dispute quite impartially in the Revue Métapsychique. A little later I was visited in Paris by Harry Price. I must say that he made a good impression on me and appeared very sincere to me. He did not speak any French but our conversation was conducted, as best we could, in his language. He protested that the Hope affair was most suspect, but at the same time he assured me that he wanted nothing more than to see authentic phenomena. He would be willing to go to the end of the world to see them.
It was not necessary for him to leave his own country to achieve this, for he found in England Stella C., a most
gifted medium who produced truly remarkable phenomena of telekinesis and even clairvoyance under conditions which Harry Price imposed and which were completely scientific. He wrote a book about these decisive experiences which he asked me to translate and present to the French public. He had now become enthusiastic about these researches and created at his own expense a National Laboratory and equipped it with a lavishness which few countries had yet known. He appointed me his correspondent in France and expressed his desire for an active collaboration.
Geley had died and I published my Introduction à la Métapsychique Humaine, which earned me a great deal of hate in the spiritualist camp and forced me to leave the Institut Métapsychique. Price openly took my side and with a moving generosity gave me a chance to continue my activities in England and the United States. He helped me to contribute to the Journal of the American S.P.R. a monthly article throughout the next five years. He invited me several times to go to London and deliver lectures. The National Laboratory gave me a dinner in 1933 at the Hotel Splendide, Piccadilly, at which Dr. C. E. M. Joad presided and at which about a dozen eminent scientists were present. I had brought with me a message from my illustrious friend Professor d'Arsonval, and I attempted to define the connections between psychical research and official science.
The friendship between Price and myself remained constant all the time. Every time he came to Paris he was received at my home, in my family circle. We loved his simplicity and his good-tempered manner. He usually brought me one of his new works and we discussed his results. His oeuvre was considerable and he contributed greatly to metapsychics. Without being a scientist, Price possessed a scrupulous and ingenious mind which understood all the exigencies of scientific experimentation. He recruited for his work the aid of every sort of specialist scientists. He proved finally his respect for science by transferring his rich library and his laboratory to the University of London.
He was accused of seeking too much the favours of the Press. But he knew that metapsychics were still a struggling science, needing the help of public opinion to overcome the indifference or prejudice of the cultured elite. He knew that a single spiteful article might awaken animosity against an alleged "superstition" and cause irreparable damage to a young and vulnerable science. To prove that he was not credulous, he went sometimes too far in his severity towards mediums who, like Rudi Schneider and Margery, had produced results which were undeniable. For myself, I remained convinced after my experiences with Rudi that he was an authentic medium. But what does it matter since Price was convinced of the reality of facts?
The last letter he wrote to me was dated April, 1946. It was long and friendly. He told me that his health had improved and that he hoped to come to Paris. After that, during a visit to Paris, Dr. Joad sounded me about the possibility of my giving a lecture in London. Time passed and there came the sad news of the death of my faithful friend. I mourned him with all my heart. No doubt it would be possible to talk to Harry Price in some Spiritalist circle - in the manner he talked himself to Conan Doyle soon after the latter's death. We hope that he is very happy in the Beyond, but if we talked to him we should not know any more about it nor would it advance metapsychics in any way.
Mr. Hereward Carrington, the veteran American psychical researcher, has sent the following contribution. He deals with Harry Price as an investigator.
I first met Harry Price in 1921 at the British College of Psychic Science, soon after his expose of the Crewe Circle, when his "Cold Light" pamphlet was creating considerable excitement in London. To me his attitude seemed
eminently fair and impartial, for he was quite willing to admit that this did not pretend to cover the whole case. It merely proved quite beyond all reasonable doubt that, in this particular instance, his plates - which had been secretly marked by means of X-rays - had been substituted for others which bore no such markings; the inference being, of course, that if substitution of the kind had been effected in this case, it might have been in others also; with the strong probability that such substitutions had been effected, in actual fact. Later developments seemed to bear out this supposition; and, as we know, the work of these spirit-photographers soon after this passed into oblivion, at least in so far as the S.P.R. was concerned. It was a blow from which they never really recovered.
Even at that time, Harry Price was a believer in genuine phenomena, though of course he exposed fraud whenever he found it. But it is doubtless true that this belief was more theoretical than actual, and that it only became a vital reality some years later, after his sittings with Stella C., Rudi Schneider and others. Thenceforth, until the day of his death, he continued to champion the actuality of psychical phenomena - while still maintaining, of course, that any individual case must stand on its own merits. Thus his further exposes went hand-in-hand with his valuable laboratory investigations and his clinical and instrumental tests of the genuine mediums he discovered. Having been an amateur conjurer all his life, it was only natural that he should have been particularly interested in physical phenomena, though he studied many mental mediums as well. Many of his studies in both these fields seem to many of us of extreme significance and importance.
In his own investigations, Harry Price showed enormous industry and tireless energy. One book alone, Poltergeist over England, shows this; and he continued his Borley Rectory investigations for many years. He unearthed and called attention to many historical cases of value, and his unique library is, of course, a mine of extraordinary information. We are indebted to him for a num-
ber of photographs of historical "haunted houses" which might otherwise never have been available. Merely from this point of view, his contributions to psychical research are of great value.
Many of his laboratory investigations may well be considered classic. His experiment with the "telekinetoscope," with Stella C., always impressed me as one of the prettiest ever undertaken. Much of his work with Rudi Schneider is of great interest. In many ways he proved himself to be a brainy, ingenious and resourceful investigator. In future years I have no doubt that his work will receive the credit which in my estimation it justly deserves.
To be sure, Harry Price had his faults. His vanity and his flair for publicity were perhaps the most outstanding of these. Like some other modern researchers, he seemed rather inclined to underestimate the work previously done by others, and to be unduly monopolistic in his attitude. Had he been willing to share some of his investigations, there can be little doubt that he would have been more "popular" in certain quarters. It is a great pity that this weakness on his part served to maintain a certain opposition to his investigations, which would otherwise not have been present, and which in my estimation was unjustified.
Although Harry Price was subjected to constant attacks in the spiritualistic press because of his exposures of fraudulent mediums and his allegedly sceptical attitude, his viewpoint always struck me as on the whole eminently fair and impartial, and justified by the facts presented. I was in fact constantly struck by the great similarity between his attitude and my own; for in many respects we thought exactly alike. Perhaps this was due in part to the similarity of our early background and our initiation into the subject. For I, too, had been an amateur conjurer all my life, but one who had been convinced of the reality of supernormal physical phenomena through the mediumship of Eusapia Palladino, just as he had been convinced through Stella C. and Rudi Schneider. But, while this was true, and we were
both interested in laboratory investigations, we both remained innately sceptical of other cases which came to our attention, feeling that each of these must stand on its own merits. Perhaps the attacks occasionally levelled at me by a certain section of the Spiritualistic press made me feel a certain kinship for him, which supplemented our own similarity of thought! But, whatever the cause, this kinship was there.
In many ways Harry Price made invaluable contributions to psychical research, and now that he is no longer with us, it is my sincere hope that personalities will now be disregarded and that his work will henceforth receive the appreciation which in my estimation it justly deserves.
For five years Mrs. Lucie Meeker-then Miss Lucie Kaye-was Harry Price's secretary, and she has written this appraisal o f her former employer.
The first time I met Harry Price he was a harassed man.
It was the opening night of his National Laboratory of Psychical Research - January, 1926 - and he was playing host to some thirty or forty visitors, all anxious to be shown over the new "psychic laboratory." I had gone there with my mother and was fascinated by the place. The Laboratory itself was crowded with cameras, microscopes, an old X-ray apparatus, gadgets of every kind and description, shelves full of test-tubes, beakers, scales, bottles of dye, of chemicals, of acids, developers, etc. There was an optician's cabinet of filters, lenses, stopwatches, luminous séance-room clocks and the Lord knows what else. Harry Price was in his element - he positively loved his gadgets (I always said he knew every screw by
its Christian name) and was as proud when showing off his new toy as a schoolboy.
In this turmoil I was introduced to him and said: "What a lovely place to work in!" I did not think he had heard me, for he had already turned to speak to a newcomer, but a few minutes later, while I was admiring rows of the most unfeminine chisels, screwdrivers, gimlets and such things in his meticulously neat workshop, he came up to me and said, almost crossly: "Well, why don't you? You can see, I need help!" and rushed off again. When I next saw him, I murmured : "But I don't do shorthand," only to be told: " I don't want shorthand. Can you type?" Well, actually I typed rather well, but I suddenly remembered I had accepted the offer of a French model house to act as mannequin for the coming spring parades. So I said: "Yes, I type." And that was that. For the next five years I was secretary to this newly-born stepchild of orthodox science from which so much was expected.
Harry was an indefatigable worker with a nervous energy and patience for detail that sometimes staggered me and often wore me out. He would come up from Pulborough every morning and was usually in the office by 9.40. Punctually at 3.50 he would be gone again to catch the 4.20 from Victoria. It was during this daily five hours' travelling that he did most of his reading and much of his writing. These hours would be upset only in the case of late sittings, such as Rudi Schneider's, which lasted till near midnight, but in a way Harry resented evenings spent away from home. "I like to sleep in my own bed," he would say, and even the nights spent at Borley Rectory later were cut down to a minimum. Everything he did followed the same pattern of well-controlled organisation. His books, papers, photographs, press-cuttings were all in meticulous order and he was invariably able to lay his hand on anything he wanted.
Of his books much has been written. The Harry Price Collection, bequeathed to the University of London and housed at Senate House, Bloomsbury, is the finest of its
kind in the world. The short-title catalogue was prepared while I was working with him, and the actual preparation of the sheets for the printers was left to me. The work was a sheer delight. I often wondered, though, whether Harry did not get more pleasure out of his hobby of photography. In 1927 he had some sixteen cameras, all different. He did most of his own developing and printing, and some of the sets of photographs he took in Rome, Venice and Copenhagen are really beautiful. My memory of Copenhagen, apart from the sittings with Anna Rasmussen for which we went there, is of interminable waiting, bedecked with spare cameras, tripods, extra stereoscopic slides, with pockets full of filters, looking like an old junk shop, always waiting for Harry to get just the right light on some building, which, more often than not, perversely remained in the shade for the rest of the afternoon. I got quite expert at this, but didn't mind a bit, as I was most generously fed with cream cakes afterwards!
Nervous and irritable at times, he was yet a most charming and considerate man to work with. He hated untidiness and untidy thinking, too. He liked things concrete - he liked value for money, yet he was never mean. When he found I liked a bet on a horse occasionally, he was positively rude about it. The fact that I usually lost didn't improve his language, but there came a day when the matter was mentioned for the last time. We had asked Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Bird, of the American S.P.R., to lunch, and the subject of racing cropped up in the course of the meal. I said that I had meant to have a small flutter on Gordon Richards that day but had forgotten to phone my bookmaker. So Harry, thinking no doubt he was on a good thing, said he would hold my bet if I told him what I wanted. He added with a laugh, "It'll pay for the lunch." I mentioned four bets and took £16 off him - the best day I had had for years. He paid like a lamb, of course, but sulked for weeks!
We had a lot of fun over the car, too. We ran a small two-seater jointly. The point was that Harry flatly refused to drive himself in London. His eyesight was good and
he was an excellent driver, but I never knew him break this rule. So he liked to have both a car and a driver handy for emergencies, and for outlying places like Borley a car was a necessity. When the car went well he referred to it as "the Laboratory car," but in its less dignified moments it was "this contraption of Miss Kaye's." The latter was the case when Harry and Hannen Swaffer, coming to lunch with us at the Savoy, became firmly wedged in the tiny dickey, and the efforts of two hefty commissionaires were required to release them. Harry always had a great respect for his dignity and it only just survived the awful moment.
Socially, I should be inclined to say, Harry was somewhat "unsociable," if that is not too Irish. He was rather shy in strange society, especially with women, and very difficult to get to know at all well. Casual acquaintance was apt to leave him at a loss. He had no "small talk," always appeared to be in a hurry, and seldom gave his acquaintances a chance to know him better. It was probably against him that he had no home in town, nowhere to dispense hospitality, with the result that friends were only seen over a restaurant luncheon table or a hurried and early cup of our famous Russian tea in the Laboratory. He lived as on a volcano, nerves strung and his agile brain always two jumps ahead of himself.
He has been much criticised for his love of publicity, but I, for one, maintain that he approached the subject of publicising physical and other psychic phenomena from a most sensible angle. He limited his investigations almost entirely to physical mediums, the results of whose séances would give something concrete to the public, and I believe his was a most courageous attempt to bring to the man in the street the most mystery - and humbug-ridden subject in the world. There is absolutely no doubt that the results of such experiments as the thermal variations, in séances are of the utmost importance, and Harry himself acknowledged his realisation of this when he made them the subject matter of his lecture at the Sorbonne in 1927. If I remember rightly, his address to the students
at Oslo University was on the same subject - the Oslo circle of reseachers gave us such a tremendous feast that evening that my memory of events is somewhat hazy!
Wherever Harry Price went on his lecture tours, he was most heartily welcomed, and though not a very fluent speaker, he spoke without notes. His manner of address was on the "intimate" side and the gist of his talk vital. He usually took lantern slides with him, and these were popular. I wish I could see anyone with the knowledge and experience necessary to follow in his tradition of investigation. Scientific research into physical mediumship has died with Price, more's the pity, for the greater usefulness of his work will be lost. Less than six months after his death, I heard the present Research Officer of the S.P.R. say that "physical phenomena were not proven." Admittedly, he was too young to have known the galaxy of mediums which Harry had to choose from, yet - just because there are no mediums worthy of the name to-day - it remains that Harry's work goes for nothing, because the younger generation was not there to witness it!
His death is a great loss to psychical research and I think it is a pity he was not able to leave the National Laboratory as a going concern to carry on his work. His few intimates will miss him greatly, for he was a most loyal friend.
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