[Drury Lane Ghost, London.] Seven related items including short paper 'I Believe in Ghosts' and informative letter by theatre historian W. J. MacQueen-Pope, letter from 'Britain's No. 1 Ghost Hunter' Elliott O'Donnell, asking about holding 'a vigil'.

The Drury Lane Ghost, London; Elliott O'Donnell (1872-1965), 'Britain's No. 1 Ghost Hunter'; W. J. MacQueen-Pope (1888-1960), theatre historian; F. Terry Newman
Publication details: 
The seven items dating from 1951. O'Donnell writing from 8 Oakland Road, Redland, Bristol; MacQueen-Pope from 359 Strand [London]; F. Terry Newman from 5 St Mary's Road, Camberley, Surrey.
SKU: 22919

Seven items from the papers of theatre historian W. J. MacQueen-Pope. The collection is in fair condition, on aged and worn paper. ONE: Duplicated Carbon copy of short article titled 'I Believe in Ghosts | by | W. Macqueen-Pope'. 2pp, 4to. Undated, but written in response to Item Six, and composed in September 1951 (see also Item Seven). Begins: 'I believe in Ghosts because I believe in what I see. And I am a confirmed ghost see-er. I have seen our Ghost at Drury Lane Theatre constantly. I have seen one of the two ghosts which haunts the now closed Royalty Theatre in Dean Street London. I have experiened the phenomena connected with two other Theatrical ghosts of repute. I have seen many such sights.' He proceeds to describe how he saw his 'first ghost or the first I remember as such', while staying as a child at 'a very ancient country house': 'the figure of a very oddly dressed woman [...] dressed in the Stewart period', going 'up the broad staircase in front of me': 'At dinner I told my hostess - and I heard the story of what I had seen. In the Civil War a woman had been pursued up that staircase and killed at the top'. He goes on to explain that he does not 'believe these ghosts are supernatural', and that 'one day science will discover the secret. It is in some way linked with television, radio and the like. Most haunts are where there has been a sudden and violent end. I think that the rough release of that force which is within us all - you can call it what you like - makes some imprint on the ether which under certain conditions and by certain people - can be seen.' When science finds 'the secret', ghosts 'will be turned on like television. That is only my idea, it may be absurd but then it is not so long ago that television would have been considered so. I am not a Spiritualist either - just a plain ordinary man who sees ghosts. And there are quite a lot like me.' The next three items attached at one corner with rusty pin. TWO: TLS from O'Donnell to MacQueen-Pope. 1p, landscape 18mo. He is 'very interested to hear there is rumoured to be a ghost at Drury Lane Theatre', and asks if it would be possible for him 'to hold a vigil in the theatre after the New Year'. He has 'held vigils in all kinds of places' and has 'lectured and written on ghostly phenomena (vide Who's Who)', and would 'very greatly appreciate hearing from you with regard to the haunting'. Autograph Signature '(Elliott O'Donnell)' beside signature in type. THREE: Unsigned carbon copy of MP'sreply. 1p, 4to. On aged and creased cartridge paper. He thanks him for the letter, 'sent over to me from Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on the staff of which I am and whose historian I am too'. He continues: 'I fear a night vigil would be of little use so far as the Ghost is concerned. He is a day time visitant. Never yet has he been seen before 9 a.m. or after six p.m. Between those hours - frequently. There is a full account of his phenomenon in my book Theatre Royal and I have written many articles about him. His visitations are quite frequent although irregular. Nor does anyone know who he is. All sorts of psychich [sic] societies have visited the theatre with me. When next you are in town I should be glad to see you.' FOUR: Duplicated Typed Circular Advertisement headed 'The Press had this to say about | Elliott O'Donnell's | HAUNTED BRITAIN'. 1p, 8vo. Quotations from nine newspapers, followed by: 'Elliott O'Donnell's latest book Ghosts with a Purpose[], published by Rider and Co, is now procurable at libraries and book-shops.' The advertisement evidently dates from 1951, the year which saw the publication of 'Ghosts with a Purpose'. FIVE: Unsigned Carbon Copy of covering note to Item One above. 14 September 1951, from 359 Strand, WC2. Reads: 'Dear Mr Newman, | Perhaps this will do? I am very busy at the moment finishing a book.' SIX: Typed Letter Signed from F. Terry Newman [editor of 'The Times Anthology of Ghost Stories' (1977)] to MP. 9 September 1951; on his letterhead, 5 St Mary's Road, Camberley, Surrey. 1p, 8vo. He is 'writing a symposium to appear in a leading British magazine in December of this year, under the tentative heading: Do You Believe in Ghosts?' and asks MP to let him 'have a few words for inclusion in answer to the question implicit in the title. A sentence or so describing a psychic experience or one which concerns a friend or associate; or why you believe - or do not believe in the existence of ghosts.' He explains that 'this symposium will not be in too serious a vein', and that it will be 'expertly handled'. Others giving their 'viewpoint' are 'L.A.G. Strong, Hannen Swaffer, Beveley Nichols; Elliott O'Donnell, Shaw Desmond and Prof. J. B. Rhine'. SEVEN: TNS from T. Terry Newman to MP. 15 September 1951, on same letterhead as Item Six. 'A few words of thanks in appreciation of your kindness in letting me have your comments in reply to my question: Do you believe in ghosts?'