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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Price, Harry (1881-1948) A prominent British “ghost hunter” whose major investigation was of Borley Rectory, Price lived a life which was a strange mixture of fact and fraud. He claimed to be descended from an aristocratic family, to have inherited wealth, and to be an expert archaeologist, bibliographer, numismatist, and——most importantly——a psychic researcher.
      Price organized the National Laboratory of Psychical Research in 1927, in direct opposition to the London-based Society for Psychical Research. He wrote on numismatics for a short time, and then extensively on his psychic interests. Among his books are Leaves from a Psychist's Case-Book (1933), Confessions of a Ghost-Hunter (1936), Fifty Years of Psychical Research (1939), The Most Haunted House in England (1940), Search for Truth (autobiography, 1942), and The End of Borley Rectory (1946).
      Among the many rare books in Price's extensive library were several volumes dealing with conjuring, and a number that discussed specific techniques applicable to the spiritualistic type of trickery that can be used to approximate ghost phenomena. Price was well versed in conjuring, belonged to a well-known conjurors' organization, and served there as a librarian.
      Even during his lifetime, Price was exposed as a charlatan. A brilliant and competent researcher, he apparently wished to add to his reputation by fraud. Following his death, investigations showed that Price had been more of an adventurer than what he had purported to be. He had faked, plagiarized, and bluffed his way into the confidence of his many and enthusiastic supporters, along the way accomplishing some valuable and genuine research.
      To quote Dr. Eric J. Dingwall, who knew and collaborated with Price on various projects:  

      When I first knew him [Price] showed no signs of the ability to present psychic material in a way which appealed not only to the popular press but to the intelligent general reader who wanted to know what was being done in this field. At the end of his life he was by far the greatest master of this type of narrative. The most trivial incident or haphazard meeting could be made into an enthralling tale through the imaginative pen of Harry Price.

      His very extensive and valuable library, amounting to 4,376 books and thousands of pamphlets, photographs, and periodicals, filled eighty-seven packing cases when it was accepted by the University of London, where it resides today.

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