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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. J. Romanes   21 September [1878]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Sept 21st

My dear Romanes.

If you do not take in the Spiritualist, order the copy published last Thursday.— It contains a splendid exposure of your friend (is this not unkind?) Williams.— H. Wedgwood brought it here: he admits that Williams is proved a rogue, but declares that he is a medium, & that he (H. Wedgwood) has himself seen John King, notwithstanding the old beard & old dirty ghost-clothes! Is this not a psychological curiosity?2

Ever yours | C. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to the exposure of the medium Charles E. Williams as a fraud in the Spiritualist newspaper (see n. 2, below).
A letter in the Spiritualist, Friday 20 September 1878, p. 133, described the finding of false beards, muslin, ribbons, phosphoric acid, and an instrument for writing on sealed slates on the persons of Williams and another medium, Mr A. Rita, at a séance in Amsterdam. For Hensleigh Wedgwood’s interest in spiritualism, see Correspondence vol. 23, letter to G. H. Darwin, 2 [April 1875] and n. 2. John King was Williams’s spirit guide. For Romanes’s interest, see E. D. Romanes 1896, pp. 48–9, and Correspondence vol. 24, letter from G. J. Romanes, [after 23 September 1876]. See also Oppenheim 1985, pp. 281–2.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Oppenheim, Janet. 1985. The other world: spiritualism and psychic research in England, 1850–1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Romanes, Ethel Duncan. 1896. The life and letters of George John Romanes M.A., LL.D., F.R.S. London, New York, and Bombay: Longmans, Green, and Co.


Discusses spiritualism. Says Williams, the medium, is exposed as fraud.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George John Romanes
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.548)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11699,” accessed on 10 May 2021,