Alfred Russel Wallace and The Medium

Among London’s spiritualists during the late 19th century, the undisputed queen had to have been Lizzie Nichol Guppy.

Born Agnes Nichol (although she preferred to be called Lizzie when she became an adult) , she would later claim to have been linked to the spirit world all her life (possibly due to being orphaned as an infant).   After seeing her first spirit at the age of nine, Lizzie found herself besieged by ghosts and quickly became known to a widening circle of friends and admirers due to her talent as a physical medium.   Along with seeing ghosts, she also became well-known for being able to “apport” physical objects such as fresh flowers and fruit. Her career began in 1866 when she first apported flowers at a séance attended by various spiritualists who gravely testified that her mediumship abilities were real.   One of the ones attending, whose reputation as a scientist was unimpeachable, was the great biologist (and scientific heretic) Alfred Russel Wallace.

While Wallace was famous for being a co-discoverer of evolution, his fondness for, ahem, unconventional scientific views is not so well-known.   Along with being an early opponent of vaccination (and lending considerable scientific legitimacy to the anti-vaccination movement as a result) Alfred Russel Wallace was also an ardent phrenologist and spiritualist.   After being introduced to spiritualism in 1865, Wallace began attending séances regularly and this was where he first met Lizzie Nichol.   Though Wallace always considered himself to be a skeptical man of science, he was still heavily influenced by his favourite sister, Fanny Sims, who was an enthusiastic spiritualist.

To read more, check out my new post on the JREF Swift Blog. 

Related Stories

  • The Evolution of Charlotte Bach
  • Surviving The Essex Disaster (Part 1 of 3)
  • Exploring the Placebo Effect


The information provided on the is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?
Total votes: 3979