KATHARINE, KATHERINE OR CATHERINE or EMILY BATES
File Seven: LIFE BY DATES 1903 TO JULY 1907 when SEEN AND UNSEEN WAS PUBLISHED
PROBLEMS WITH SOURCES WRITTEN BY KAT HERSELF
One reviewer described Seen and Unseen as an autobiography, but it isn’t one really and Kat didn’t call it that herself, she preferred to think of it as “Psychic reminiscences” - with all that that implies about its accuracy. It’s based on her spiritual experiences and the people she had met through spiritualism. References to her life outside spiritualism – especially her early life – are mentioned in a few words if at all and usually without specific dates. Her two travel books suffer from the same problem. In them, Kat does mention a lot of places she had already visited – though again without dates – but both are written as guides for travellers who might choose to follow the same route, and concentrate on the pleasures and pains of Kat’s current travels, rather than journeys in the past.
Seen and Unseen seems to have made Kat rather a star in the spiritualism world. She was encouraged to write several more books between 1908 and 1920, on her experiences in spiritualism; on where she thought the movement ought to be going in the future; and on the new age of Mankind’s spiritual evolution that she was taking part in. Some events mentioned in earlier books are elaborated in the later ones, in a way that worries me: I can’t decide whether Kat is just allowing more detail of a particular event to be published; or whether she was adding more and more invented superstructure to an original core of a spiritualistic event that she had experienced, often many years before. In Do the Dead Depart?, she described her own method as a medium as intuitional automatic writing, by which she meant that a general outline of the event was supplied by the spirit guide with the medium then filling in the detail. I’m not sure of the dividing line, in that case, between Kat’s method, and fiction.
And then there are the people. Especially in Seen and Unseen Kat makes no bones about mixing up real names with pseudonyms and it’s not always obvious which is which! So with most of the people she meets or knew before, I’ve no real idea who it is I should be researching.
It’s clear that some of her novels are set in places Kat had visited; but under the circumstances I’ve thought it better not to assume that the incidents that occur in them actually happened to Kat.
Kat’s a bit of a trickster!
for Kat’s description of Seen and Unseen: Do/Dead p10.
For Kat’s method of intuitional automatic writing: Do/Dead pp167-168 and p185. There’s also a lot of being wise after the event; but that’s true of all kinds of prediction.
GETTING TO THE START – SHORT FORMS FOR THE SOURCES
GR1; GR2 A Year in the Great Republic, Kat’s account of her travels in Canada and the US.
She is named on the original cover as E Catherine Bates. 2 volumes, London:
Ward and Downey 1887.
KSS Kaleidoscope: Shifting Scenes from East to West. Kat’s account of her time in Australasia, the Far East and Alaska. She’s named on the original cover as E
Katharine Bates. London: Ward and Downey of Covent Garden 1889.
S/U Seen and Unseen London: Greening and Co 1907; New York: Dodge Publishing Company 1908.
The page numbers are from my own copy, printed 2016 by Filiquarian Publishing Llc, see www.Qontro.com
Do/Dead Do the Dead Depart? I can’t say which name appeared on the front cover of the
British edition as I can’t find any copies of it. E Katharine Bates is the name on
the title page of the American edition published New York: Dodge Publishing
Company 1908. My page numbers are from a modern reprint by
www.forgottenbooks.com of the US edition.
P/Sci/Chr Psychical Science and Christianity where Kat’s name is E Katharine Bates on the
front cover. London: T Werner Laurie. No publication date but the British Library stamp says “1 SEP 09”.
P/Realm The Psychic Realm on whose front cover Kat’s name is given as E Katharine Bates. London: Greening and Co 1910.
PHFL Psychic Hints of a Former Life by E Katharine Bates. London: Theosophical
Publishing Society of 161 New Bond Street. 1912.
Cope The Coping Stone: its True Significance by E Katharine Bates. London: Greening and Co Ltd 1912. The dates given are very vague in this one.
OLD Our Living Dead: Some Talks with Unknown Friends by E Katharine Bates with a
Preface by Alfred E Turner. London: Kegan Paul Trench Trubner and Co Ltd
C/Dawn Children of the Dawn by E Katharine Bates (sic). London: Kegan Paul Trench Trubner and Co. NewYork: E P Dutton and Co 1920. Kat’s last published work.
GETTING TO THE START – LAYOUT
As with my other great life-by-dates – Isabel de Steiger – what was happening will be in italics with the sources and my comments in Times New Roman.
CARRYING ON FROM 1903
Kat went to a séance led by Mrs Corner – formerly Florence Cook. Mrs Cook’s French-speaking control Marie materialised and spoke to people.
Source: Do/Dead pp194-201 followed by a scientific explanation of how materialization might occur. This was the first time Kat had been to a séance with Florence Cook. It was held by a Miss Macartney at her flat, and Kat’s friends Mr and Mrs Harrington were the other participants (I’m assuming those surnames are two of Kat’s fakes; perhaps Mr and Mrs ‘harrington’ are actually the well-known psychic investigator Hereward Carrington, and his wife).
Comment by Sally Davis: despite Florence Cook Corner’s reputation, Kat was sure that on this occasion there hadn’t been any faking. Florence Cook and her supposedly materialized spirit Katie King were amongst the spiritualist phenomena investigated by William Crookes. Florence Cook had been caught in the act of being Katie King herself in 1873 and again in 1880, after which Katie King didn’t materialize for her again; but Crookes caused uproar by concluding that the materialisations were genuine.
Sources: wikipedia pages of Florence Cook and Katie King. And michaelgallagherwrites.com, his article Florence Cook: Materializing Medium or Mendacious Fraud?, in which he confirms that Florence Cook was born in 1856. She married Edward Elgie Corner in 1874.
Trying to tie down the date of the séance: wikipedia on Florence Cook gives 22 April 1904 for the death of Florence Cook Corner.
BEGINNING EARLY 1903
Kat and her frequent travelling companion – the woman she calls Miss Greenlow – went to Burma and India. While they were walking around the Schwe Dagon temple in Rangoon, Kat had a fall on a flight of steps which she put down to malign influences. From Rangoon, the two women went on a boat up the Irrawadi and back, turning at Mandalay. Returning to Rangoon, they went by boat to India, via Ceylon. From Calcutta they went to the Himalayas, staying at the hill stations at Simla, Mussoorie and Dehra Dun before going on to Peshawar, the Khyber Pass and Kashmir.
S/U pp157-158 which doesn’t mention Ceylon. P/Realm pp86-87 mentions a conversation about the coming new era in Mankind’s history. Kat was discussing this with a man she knew “in Colombo” and later on board ship. Though the only date for this is “years ago” I can’t find another time Kat would have passed through Colombo.
UNKNOWN DATE PROBABLY AFTER 1902
Kat read an article by W T Stead on spirit photography. As a result, she became determined to have her photograph taken by the man who had photographed Stead, Robert Boursnell. The very first shot Boursnell took of her showed the spirit of an old man who Kat identified as the Egyptian who had sent her the automatic writing message about the Pyramids, the Sphinx and the future of the human race.
On the message from the Ancient Egyptian: see my life-by-dates for 1893.
On the date: W T Stead’s wikipedia page says that Stead had a series of photographs done by Boursnell in 1902.
Robert Boursnell has a wikipedia page.
Comment on Robert Boursnell by Sally Davis: Boursnell (1832-1909) was a professional photographer, caught faking spirit photographs several times, including by Kat’s friend William Usborne Moore. However, he seems to have had a gift for persuading people that sometimes the spirits in his photographs were genuine: Usborne Moore thought some might be; while Kat, A P Sinnett and Arthur Conan Doyle believed that they all were. It was not as though Kat wasn’t aware of how the process of photography could be manipulated – in Seen and Unseen (1907) she said she’d often helped amateur photographers do fakes, by walking away while the shutter was still open during a long exposure.
Glimpses of the Next State: The Education of an Agnostic by Vice-Admiral William Usborne Moore. London: Watts and Co 1911. In chapter IV p123.
The History of Spiritualism Arthur Conan Doyle. 2 volimes. London, New York, Toronto, Melbourne: Cassell and Co Ltd 1926. Volume 2 pp123-124, p133, p140. Conan Doyle reports that in 1908 the Daily Mail brought together a group with both believers and non-believers in it, to investigate Boursnell. The group decided that there was not enough proof that spirits or ghosts appeared in photographs. The results were published in Light 1908 p256 and 1909 pp 290, 307, 329. A P Sinnett had been a member of the group, one of its believers.
Source for Kat’s first trip to Boursnell: Cope pp49-50, p60 in which she says it happened one year after she had received the Egyptian’s message.
Cope pp60-61 at least as late as 1912, Kat was maintaining her stance that Boursnell did not fake spirit photographs; and that those who said he did just didn’t understand what was going on.
AND CONNECTED WITH THE ABOVE; probably after 1902, definitely BEFORE 1909
During one of Kat’s sessions having her photograph taken by Robert Boursnell, she recognised the spirit of her old nurse – dead 40 years by then - in one of the shots. She also recognised two children she knew, Reggie and his older sister Stella, as ‘children of the dawn’ - harbingers of the new era of humanity’s evolution. She wrote a book about them in 1920.
Source: C/Dawn p134 which reproduces the photographs of Reggie, and Stella holding Reggie.
Kat left the Society for Psychical Research.
Source: OLD p136 but without a specific date. I presume Kat didn’t resign, she just stopped paying her subscription. In P/Realm p50 she is critical of the Society’s methods and its attitude to the new era she was sure was beginning; and she thought its members too cautious.
BEGINNING 16 NOVEMBER 1904, TO DECEMBER 1904
Kat took William Usborne Moore along to a series of seances organised by Mr Gambier Bolton. The first one was held in a studio in Acacia Gardens, St John’s Wood and the others took place in the houses of members of the group. The blind medium Cecil Husk was employed. On other occasions, Kat told Usborne Moore of her experiences at seances held in the United States, which inspired him to go to the US in December 1904, to investigate further.
From Kat’s side:
Do/Dead pp100-01 though without a more useful date than “Some years ago”. Just after the séance began, Kat saw the room bathed in “soft but brilliant violet light”. She mentioned it to Usborne Moore but he hadn’t seen it. Only one other person, it transpired, had seen it.
An account by Usborne Moore:
Glimpses of the Next State: The Education of an Agnostic by Vice-Admiral William Usborne Moore. London: Watts and Co 1911: pxv, pxvii. The exact date of the séance and its whereabouts: p15. On pxiv Usborne Moore says that he had already been to a couple of seances in Portsmouth when Kat took him to Gambier Bolton’s group; and had read works by Crookes and other investigators.
On the medium James Cecil Husk (known as Cecil) who was well-known and very experienced:
The Spiritualist and Journal of Psychological Science volume 15 July-December 1879 p270 issue of 5 December 1879 announced him as “a new medium”, specialising in manifestations. At this early stage in his career he was being sponsored by Mrs Woodforde of 90 Great Russell Street London WC: she was lending her house for him to be the medium at a series of Friday-evening seances.
In 1887 he was advertising his services regularly in the London Spiritualist Alliance’s magazine Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research, published for the LSA at its offices in Duke Street Adelphi. The advert on piii of the issue of Sat 30 June 1887 was typical, inviting readers to seances held on Sunday evenings at 8pm, at 29 South Grove, Rye Lane, Peckham which was presumably his home.
Comments on William Usborne Moore by Sally Davis: I think that in 1904, the Usborne Moores were new friends of Kat. William Usborne Moore (born 1849) had been in the Navy, mostly serving in the Pacific and Far East, until 1901. He and his wife had married in Australia in 1877.
As late as 1903 he did not believe in spiritualism, but under the influence of Kat and others, he changed his mind and became a keen and rather credulous investigator of mediums. Kat became a good friend of both William and his wife Maria Gertrude and visited them very often at their seaside home in Southsea.
Sources for him: a short entry on wikipedia.
Times Wed 8 May 1901 p5 a letter mentions Captain Usborne Moore as still on active service: commander of HMS Dart which was based in Australia.
Usborne Moore’s book The Cosmos and the Creeds: Elementary Notes on the Alleged Finality of the Chr istian Faith was published in London: Watts and Co 1903. In Glimpses of the Next State… pix Usborne Moore said that The Cosmos and the Creeds was a defence of the teachings of Jesus, against the doctrines of the Church in the centuries since – a point of view Kat will have agreed with. On px of it, Usborne Moore said that when he wrote The Cosmos and the Creeds he was not a spiritualist.
And on the organiser of these seances, Robert Gambier Bolton: there’s a short wikipedia page on him as an author and photographer. There’s more at www.bonhams.com, a photograph of a lion taken by Gambier Bolton (1854-1928) the first well-known photographer of animals. FRGS. FZS. Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.
At findagrave.com there’s information that he died in Bournemouth; perhaps Kat kept up their friendship when she too was living there.
Kat spent some time “convalescing” in a hotel on the English south coast.
Source: Do/Dead p218 though with no clearer date than “Three years ago”.
The woman Kat called Mrs Hope left England for South Africa. She left Kat the transcripts of all her automatic writing communications from her dead son.
Source: Do/Dead p240 and see my life-by-dates for 1902 when Kat met her. Kat says that the transcripts were exactly as received by the medium, Mrs Hope’s servant Nellie; with no tidying or editing.
Comment by Sally Davis: Kat took the transcripts at face value as an example of what life was like for young people after death; and as comfort for all bereaved mothers. She equated Mrs Hope’s experience with that of another mother she knew whose son had died suddenly and young – the woman she calls Mrs Forbes (Diana, Mrs Francis William Raikes).
Kat’s friend Isabel Finch (previously Smith) became translator and editor of the French psychic magazine known in English as The Annals of Psychical Science.
Source: Do/Dead pp41-42, p221-224; on p206 Kat says that by this time Isabel had married Charles Finch. See my life-by-dates for early 1901 for Kat and Isabel’s introduction, brought about by Kat’s brother Charles.
At iapsop.com there are two issues of Isabel’s English-language translation, which she also edited. But she’s called Laura I Finch, not Isabel, and this has made finding her on family history websites rather difficult. Iapsop has the English translation’s volume 2, July-December 1905; and volume 4, July-December 1906. Sir William Crookes was a member of the magazine’s governing committee.
Website www.encyclopedia.com says that the original French magazine was founded in 1891.
Kat started to worry about the decline in her brother Charles’ health.
Source: S/U p163.
BEGINNING NOVEMBER 1905
Kat went on a visit to friends in Eastbourne.
Source: S/U p163; though she doesn’t say who they were, see below, entries for September 1906.
Kat was in Rome. She and her friend the Countess di Brazza went to see the spirit photographs of Signor Volpi.
Kat’s account: P/Sci/Chr (published 1909) p191 with Kat saying it happened three or four years ago.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research volume 9 1889 p141 announced that a supposed spirit photograph taken by Captain Volpi would be on show at the Paris Congress of Spiritualists; and a note saying that during the Congress the Captain would prove that it was authentic. The Captain’s work was known to the Paris-based magician known as Papus, who later joined the GD’s Paris temple. On p461 issue of 28 September 1889, Light had some coverage of the Congress. The magazine’s representative at the Congress reported that he wasn’t convinced that Volpi’s photograph was of a spirit. William Stainton Moses, as Light’s editor, was annoyed by Volpi’s endorsement of the French spiritualist Allen Kardec as the founder of modern spiritualism.
Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the National Spiritualist Association of Churches volumes 2-3 1894 p182 mentions the translation of an article on spirit photography by Volpi.
Kat’s friend the Contessa di Brazza Savorgnan was American:
At digital.library.upenn.edu/women/eagle/congress/brazza.html there’s an article by her: The Italian Women in the Country, with some biographical details. She was Cora Ann Slocomb, born 1862. The article was originally a talk on the women of Friuli, given by Cora at the Congress of Women, part of the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893.
The Business of Charity: The Women’s Exchange Movement 1832-1900 by Kathleen Waters Sander 1998: p64 on the New Orleans’ women’s exchange. Cora had been Queen of the New Orleans mardi gras in 1881.
At www.findagrave.com there are details of Cora’s parents. Her father was Cuthbert Harrison Slocomb 1831-73. He was born in New Orleans and before the Civil War was a partner in Slocomb Baldwin and Co hardware merchants. He served in the Confederate Army. He married Abigail Hanna Day (1836-1917). Cora was their only child, born New Orleans and buried there; though she died in Rome.
At www.pinterest.co.uk a picture of Cora has some biographical information: 1862 to 1944; married 1887 Detalmo di Brazza Savorgnan, Conte di Brazza.
Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine volumes 46-47 1915 p217: Abigail Slocomb mentioned as the “regent” of the Daughters’ Anna Warner Bailey chapter.
Occult Review published an account by Kat of her two seances with the American medium Leonora Piper.
Occult Review volume 3 January-June 1906. Issue of March 1906: pp136-143: Miss Piper and her Controls by E Katharine Bates. The seances had taken place in the spring of 1897 but Kat had agreed to Richard Hodgson’s request that she shouldn’t publish anything about them. Hodgson had died in 1905 and Kat no longer felt bound by the promise she had made. See 1897 for an account of what happened at the seances.
Kat was staying with William and Maria Gertrude Usborne Moore in Southsea when there was a sharp decline in her brother Charles’ health.
Source: S/U p167.
5 SEPTEMBER 1906
Kat had gone on from the Usborne Moores to Buxton to take the waters. There she received news that her brother Charles had had a heart attack. She was advised not to go to his bedside.
Source: S/U p166. Kat writes that medical advice to close relations at this time was to keep away from someone who had had a heart attack, for fear of agitating them and bringing on another. She stayed away, therefore, and was kept up-to-date by several telegrams a day.
24 SEPTEMBER 1906
Kat’s brother Charles Ellison Bates died, at Carlton in Bedfordshire. Kat had left Buxton and gone to stay with her friend Mrs Finch in Eastbourne.
Comment by Sally Davis: In Do/Dead pp41-42 Kat says that “my whole life was overshadowed by my loss”; so I do find it very hard on her that the latest medical thinking at that time meant that Kat was not there to attend Charles on his death bed.
In Do/Dead p42, pp221-224 she goes into more detail. After a fortnight of worry and sleepless nights she could bear it no longer and resolved to go to see Charles, no matter what. She was preparing to set out from Eastbourne when she received a telegram saying that Charles had died. By that time, she said, it had come to her in the night tha
t there had been a great change in her brother; which might or might not have been his death. Comment on that by Sally Davis: in Do/Dead p222 that in the face of such anxiety she had been taking sedatives in a vain attempt to get some sleep. She wasn’t asleep when she felt the great change in her brother’s condition, but she might have been rather drugged up.
For Kat’s friend Isabel Finch see my life-by-dates for early 1901; and early 1905.
Times Sat 29 September 1906 obituaries.
Times Sat 29 Sep 1906 p1 death notice and details of cremation date.
Source for death of Charles Ellison Bates: Probate Registry entries 1906.
Comment by Sally Davis: see my life-by-dates for 1901, for Kat’s meeting with Isabel Smith; and 1905 for Isabel as translator of a French psychical magazine. By 1905 Isabel had married a man Kat calls Charles Finch, and was living in Eastbourne. The ‘finch’ at least seems to be correct though I can’t find much information on a ‘charles finch’ on family history websites.
27 SEPTEMBER 1906
Charles Ellison Bates was cremated, at Woking.
Source: Times Sat 29 September 1906 p1.
Comment by Sally Davis: cremation was still relatively new and controversial. As someone who had spent his working life in India, Charles Bates would have been familiar with it.
29 SEPTEMBER 1906
Kat’s one-time suitor, the man she writes about as ‘judge Forbes’, died.
Source for the death of F W Raikes:
Times Mon 1 October 1906: obituary Judge Francis William Raikes KC, LlD.
Probate Registry entries 1906.
AUTUMN 1906 TO 1907
Kat was busy preparing a second publication based on Charles Ellison Bates’ common-place book. She continued to communicate with him after her death.
More Leaves from the Common-place Book of C.E.B. “In Memoriam Col Charles Ellison Bates, Bengal Staff Corps”. As with the first commonplace book (1900 and edited by Kat’s eldest brother Henry) it was printed for private circulation only, by Arthur F Bird of 22 Bedford Street Strand. 1907. The British Library’s copy has on an inside page a hand-written note signed “E Katharine Bates”, sending the book to a Mrs and Miss Nicholson, “In memory of a pleasant meeting - London Nov 4". The Nicholsons might be relations of Kat’s Indian Mutiny hero John Nicholson of the East India Company, who died of wounds received during the siege of Delhi; see his wikipedia page.
Sources for how Kat’s relationship with Charles continued after his death:
Do/Dead pp42-44 in which Kat describes how she heard from Charles within a fortnight of his death. The night before a business interview Kat was dreading, he contacted her to tell her not to worry about it, that it would all go well – which it did, perhaps because Kat was more confident, after hearing from him.
Psychical Science and Christianity dedication to the friends – some living, some dead – who urged Kat to write it. Initials only but one of the sets is “C.E.B.”
She was probably in London:
Kat spent a few weeks in London and made her first visit to Westminster Cathedral.
Source: Do/Dead pp72-73 though with date of “About eighteen months ago” (which I take to mean, 18 months before Do/Dead was published).
Comment by Sally Davis: Kat was setting the scene for a rather complex explanation of how psychic messages work. She wrote that although not a Catholic, she often stopped off to spend half an hour in Brompton Oratory when she was in London, as she “found the spiritual atmosphere there very helpful”. On that day in autumn 1906 she spent an hour in the Cathedral; but it doesn’t seem to have had the same effect on her as the Oratory did. She spent the rest of the day trying to pay calls on people, all of whom were out.
Kat may have made another trip to India.
Source: C/Dawn p16 has a passing reference to a conversation Kat had with a judge in Allahabad, about the work of the Society for Psychical Research. She gives a very specific date for this conversation – 1907 - which is odd in itself: Kat’s usually vague about dates. She never refers to a trip to India in 1907 in any of her other works and I think she must be mistaken in the year.
Kat’s book Seen and Unseen – which she described later as “psychic reminiscences” - was published in the UK.
Source for UK publication: title page of Seen and Unseen by Emily Katherine Bates. London: Greening and Co. 1907. And for Kat’s description of what was in it: Do/Dead p10.
That’s the end of this file in my life-by-dates sequence for Emily Katharine Bates.
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
16 April 2018
Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: