Stella C.


















Harry Price & Stella Cranshaw - the 'Electric Girl'

Portrait of Stella Cranshaw by Navana (Reproduced from the British Journal of Psychical Research, Vol.1, No.1, 1926)

"Whenever Harry Price spoke or wrote about Stella, the girl-medium he had discovered, a note of affection and pride crept in.  In some ways he considered her as the daughter he never had.  It is the dream of every psychical investigator to discover a medium all by himself, to develop and test her according to his own ideas and then present her and her results to the world.  And Stella C. came into Price's life when he was getting weary of fraudulent mediums."

I have begun this section of the website with the above quotation from Dr Paul Tabori's Harry Price - The Biography of a Ghost-Hunter because it sums up in a few words the importance of the Stella C. sittings in Harry Price's career in psychical research.  In the years following the First World War, Price had encountered many fake mediums and phoney psychics who were taking advantage of the appalling loss of life in the trenches to ply their trade to members of the public who had lost loved ones and were desperate to achieve contact with them again.  Price had been elected as a member of the Society for Psychical Research in June 1920 and was soon collaborating with fellow member Eric Dingwall on a facsimile reprint of the notorious spirit de-bunking handbook Revelations of a Spirit Medium - an exposure of the séance room tricks of many late nineteenth century psychic fraudsters in America - as a printed antidote to the current plague of charlatanry. 

Despite being part of the country's foremost psychical research society, to whom he had made available his extensive library of occult and magical literature on loan, once he had decided to make a career out of investigating the abnormal, Harry Price's intention was that he would "reorganise British psychical research" and be at the forefront himself.  This was to be achieved by setting up his own organisation which he later called the National Laboratory of Psychical Research and his chance encounter with Dorothy Stella Cranshaw, whom he realised possessed mediumistic powers, was the way that this was to be achieved.  Rather than involve the S.P.R., once Stella - whom Price met on a train travelling home one day to his home in Pulborough, West Sussex - had agreed to attend sittings, Price made arrangements to conduct a series of experiments under his own control and direction and booked accommodation at the offices of the London Spiritualist Alliance for the purpose.

Price eventually carried out three series of sittings with Stella Cranshaw.  The first was between March and October 1923 for which Price himself developed equipment specifically to be used in the séance room as part of the experiments.  The second series of sittings took place between January and August 1926, with the last taking place during the spring and summer of 1928.  Price was able to experience phenomena which was tested entirely under his own conditions and the results gave him much needed confidence in the course of work he had decided upon after the years of trickery and clumsy frauds which he had exposed.  Price's work with Stella C., and later with Rudi Schneider, go a long way to proving that he was more than just a journalist in psychic subjects, especially during the initial years of the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, when he was actively engaged in carrying out original work to try and come to terms with the problems of mediumship and survival after death.

Cover of Price's report into his first series of sittings with Stella C. in the French translation by René Sudre.

As with other sections of the website, articles and papers by Harry Price and his contemporaries are included alongside modern essays and writings.  Click on the titles to access the articles.

Stella C - A Record of Thirteen Sittings for Thermo-Psychic and Other Experiments by Harry Price, F.R.N.S. (1924)   This is Price's report on the first series of sittings with Stella Cranshaw which was published in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research  (Vol. XVIII, No. 5, May 1924).

The Return of Miss Stella C. by Harry Price (1926)   Announcement from the first issue of the British Journal of Psychical Research of the commencement of the second series of sittings with Stella Cranshaw at the newly opened National Laboratory.

Stella C. by Dr Paul Tabori (1950)   A short piece by Tabori taken from Chapter Five of his biography of Price which gives a brief resume of the Stella C. sittings.









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