Daniel Dunglas Home

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Fanboy artists of the 1800s helped spread the rumor Home was capable of levitation.
Putting the psycho in
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Men who stare at goats
By the powers of tinfoil

Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886) was a Scottish spiritualist medium who was exposed as a fraud.


Spiritualists have claimed in their publications that Home was never caught in fraud. This is completely false. Psychologist Andrew Neher has written that Home was detected in fraud by at least four people on different occasions.[1] The following is a list of these exposures:

  • At a séance in the house of the solicitor John Snaith Rymer in Ealing on July 1855, one sitter, Frederick Merrifield, observed that a "spirit-hand" was a false limb attached on the end of Home's arm. Merrifield also claimed to have observed Home to use his foot in the séance room.[2]
  • Poet Robert Browning and his wife Elisabeth attended a séance on July 23, 1855, in Ealing with the Rymers.[3] During the séance a spirit face materialized which Home claimed was the son of Browning who had died in infancy. Browning seized the "materialization" and discovered it to be the bare foot of Home. Browning had never lost a son in infancy. Browning's son Robert, in a letter to the London Times, December 5, 1902 referred to the incident: "Home was detected in a vulgar fraud."[4][5]
  • The journalist Delia Logan attended a séance with Home in London and during the séance Home positioned himself near a staircase where luminous hands were seen to appear every few minutes. The host of the séance noticed Home had placed a small bottle upon a mantlepiece and then slipped the bottle into his pocket. Upon examination the bottle was found to contain phosphorus oil.[6]
  • Count Petrovsky Petrovo-Solovo described séances in which Home was caught using his feet to create supposed spirit effects. Home wore thin shoes, easy to take off and draw on, and also cut socks that left the toes free. "At the appropriate moment he takes off one of his shoes and with his foot pulls a dress here, a dress there, rings a bell, knocks one way and another, and, the thing done, quickly puts his shoe on again". Home held a séance at Court, positioning himself between Eugénie de Montijo and Napoleon III. One of the séance sitters, a General Felury, suspected Home was utilizing trickery and asked to leave, but returned unobserved to watch from another door behind Home. He saw Home slip his foot from his shoe and touch the arm of the Empress, who believed it to be one of her dead children. The observer stepped forward and revealed the fraud, and Home was conducted out of the country. "The order was to keep the incident secret."[7]
  • The American sculptor Hiram Powers attended a séance with Home and wrote at length to Elizabeth Browning explaining how Home had faked the table-rappings and movements.[8]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ernest Barthez. (1912). The Empress Eugénie and Her Circle. London T. Fisher Unwin.
  • Bob Couttie. (1988). Forbidden Knowledge: The Paranormal Paradox. Lutterworth Press.
  • Trevor Hall. (1984). The Enigma of Daniel Home: Medium Or Fraud?. Prometheus Books.
  • Alexander Klein. (1958). The Double Dealers: Adventures in Grand Deception. Lippincott.
  • Frank Podmore. (1910). The Newer Spiritualism. London: Unwin.
  • John Sladek. (1973). The New Apocrypha: A Guide to Strange Science and Occult Beliefs. New York: Stein & Day.
  • Carlson Wade. (1976). Great hoaxes and Famous Impostors. Jonathan David Publishers.
  • Horace Wyndham. (1937). Mr. Sludge, the Medium. London: Geoffrey Bles.


  1. Andrew Neher. (2011). Paranormal and Transcendental Experience: A Psychological Examination. Dover Publications. pp. 214-215
  2. Joseph McCabe. (1920). Spiritualism: A Popular History from 1847. Dodd, Mead and Company. pp. 110-112
  3. Donald Thomas. (1989). Robert Browning: A Life Within Life. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. pp. 157-158
  4. Harry Houdini. (2011 reprint edition). Originally published in 1924. A Magician Among the Spirits. Cambridge University Press. p. 42
  5. John Casey. (2009). After Lives: A Guide to Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Oxford. p. 373: "The poet attended one of Home's seances where a face was materialized, which, Home's spirit guide announced, was that of Browning's dead son. Browning seized the supposed materialized head, and it turned out to be the bare foot of Home. The deception was not helped by the fact that Browning never had lost a son in infancy."
  6. Paul Kurtz. (1985). A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology. Prometheus Books. p. 255
  7. Count Petrovsky-Petrovo-Solovo. (1930). Some Thoughts on D. D. Home. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Volume 114. Quoted in John Casey. (2009). After Lives: A Guide to Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Oxford. pp. 373-374. "He then saw the latter open the sole of his right shoe, leave his naked foot some time on the marble floor, then suddenly with a rapid and extraordinarily agile movement, touch with his toes the hand of the Empress, who started, crying "The hand of a dead child has touched me!" General Fleury came forward and described what he had seen. The following day Home was embarked at Calais conducted by two agents; the order was to keep the incident secret."
  8. Hiram Powers' Paradise Lost. (1985). Hudson River Museum. p. 26. This letter can be found in Clara Louise Dentler. White Marble: The Life and Letters of Hiram Powers, Sculptor. p. 111 and is stored in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. Link