ABSTRACT

Although an avid skeptic, Charles Dickens can be found having conversations with spiritualist communities while he was alive—and after he was dead. The most intriguing use of Dickens’s name in the spiritualist community was through the American medium T. P. James, who became known as Dickens’s medium, and gained popularity when he published Part Second of the Mystery of Edwin Drood (1873) from the “spirit-pen of Charles Dickens.” In addition to the publication of the manuscript itself, writers for the spiritualist press were quick to attempt to prove or disprove the text’s validity. Later, James started his own spiritualist magazine, The Summerland Messenger (1874), which continued to publish short stories and social commentary from the “spirit-pen of Charles Dickens.” This article will analyze the various spiritualist messages that James included in Part Second while connecting it to the supernatural themes present in Dickens’s original novel. It will examine James’s claim that his manuscript was written through the spirit-pen of Charles Dickens, evaluating the text and its influence on its audience. It concludes that James, and the spiritualist press, used Dickens’s work and name to increase the followers of Spiritualism, proving that it was at its core, a community of readers.

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