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Born on this day
Muhammad Ali
2nd week in year
17 January 2021

Important personalitiesBack

Harry Price17.1.1881

Wikipedia (18 Mar 2013, 14:37)
Harry Price (17 January 1881 – 29 March 1948) was a British psychic researcher and author, who gained public prominence for his investigations into psychical phenomena and his exposing of fake spiritualists. He is best known for his well-publicized investigation of the purportedly haunted Borley Rectory in Essex, England.

Early life

Although Price claimed his birth was in Shropshire, he was actually born in London in Red Lion Square on the site of the South Place Ethical Society's Conway Hall. He was educated in New Cross, first at Waller Road Infants School and then Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham Boys School. At 15, Price founded the Carlton Dramatic Society and wrote small plays including a drama about his early experience with a poltergeist which he said took place at a haunted manor house in Shropshire.

A few years later, Price came to the attention of the Press when he claimed an early interest in space-telegraphy. He set up a receiver and transmitter between Telegraph Hill, Hatcham and St Peter's Church Brockley and captured a spark on a photographic plate, though according to the most recent biography of Price by Richard Morris, this was nothing more than Harry writing a press release saying he had done the experiment as nothing was verified. The young Price also had an avid interest in coin collecting and wrote several articles for The Askean, the magazine for Haberdashers' School. In his autobiography, Search for Truth, written between 1941 and 1942, Price claimed he was involved with archaeological excavations in Greenwich Park, London but in earlier writings on Greenwich denied he had a hand in the excavation.

From around May 1908 Price continued his interest in archaeology at Pulborough, Sussex where he had moved to before marrying Constance Mary Knight that August. As well as working for paper merchants Edward Saunders & Sons as a salesman he wrote for two local Sussex newspapers the West Sussex Gazette and the Southern Weekly News where he wrote about his remarkable propensity for discovering 'clean' antiquities. One of these, a silver ingot, was stamped around the time of the last Roman emperor Honorius, a few years after another celebrated Sussex archaeologist Charles Dawson found a brick at Pevensey Fort in Sussex which was purportedly made in Honorius' time. In 1910 Professor E.J Haverfield of Oxford University, the country's foremost expert on Roman history and a Fellow of the Royal Academy announced it a fake. A report for the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries (number 23, pages 121-9) in the same year reported that:

'...the double axe type of silver ingot was well known and dated from late Imperial times but the one recovered from Sussex was an inferior copy of one found at the Tower of London, with alterations to give it an air of authenticity. Both the shape and lettering betrayed its origin.'

Interest in magic and conjuring

In his autobiography, Search for Truth, Price said the “Great Sequah” in Shrewsbury was "entirely responsible for shaping much of my life’s work", and led to him acquiring the first volume of what would become the Harry Price Library, Price later became an expert amateur conjurer, joined the Magic Circle in 1922 and maintained a lifelong interest in stage magic and conjuring. His expertise in sleight-of-hand and magic tricks stood him in good stead for what would become his all consuming passion, the investigation of paranormal phenomena.

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