Emma Hardinge Britten
Emma Hardinge Britten is, perhaps, the
most renowned and most respected advocate and proponent in the early Modern
She was the daughter of
Captain Floyd Hardinge, whom writers call a seafaring man. Early in her
life, she had shown gifts as a musician, singer, and speaker. In fact, at
age 11 she was earning her living as a music teacher.
Under contract with a
theatrical company, she went to America in 1856 where, through the
mediumship of Miss Ada Hoyt (Mrs. Coan), she
became converted to the Spiritualist philosophy. There, she began
developing her own abilities as a medium and sat publicly for the Society
for the Diffusion of Spiritual Knowledge of New York (what a wonderful
As a young medium, she
furnished one of the best attested cases of early Spirit return. A member
of the crew of the mail steamer, Pacific, which had sunk in the
ocean, controlled young Emma and, in trance, disclosed the facts of the
tragedy. Because of the nature of the details given through her mediumship,
Emma Hardinge was threatened with prosecution by the owners of the boat
when the story was made public, but all the details were found to be true
Her mediumistic gifts embraced
automatic and inspirational writing, psychometry, healing, prophecy, and
inspirational speaking. She was best known for her inspirational addresses,
which were very eloquent, inspiring, and informative. They were given
completely extempore, and the subject was generally chosen in the
auditorium by a committee from the audience.
Most historians agree that, as
a propagandist for Spiritualism, she was unequaled in her zeal, commitment,
and enthusiasm. For years she traveled all over the United States, Canada,
England, Australia, and New Zealand, expounding the truths of Spiritualism
and related areas of thought.
Emma Hardinge Britten founded
and edited for five years the Two Worlds of Manchester. She was also
among the founders of the Theosophical Society in New York, in 1875.
However, she soon severed her connections with Madame Blavatsky.
Although she was not alive to
see this happen, her dream of establishing a proper and formal "school
of prophets" (training school for mediums) was realized in 1900, with
the founding of the Britten Memorial Institute and Library, in
Emma Hardinge Britten's
writings include: Modern American Spiritualism, New York, 1870; Nineteenth
Century Miracles, New York, 1884; Faith, Fact and Fraud of Religious
History, Manchester, 1896; Extemporaneous Addresses, London,
1866. She was editor of the American periodical, The Western Star, 1872,
and the British The Unseen Universe, 1992-1893.
Her classic, Modern
American Spiritualism, is still considered the finest and most complete
analysis of the early American Movement. We remember her as a true pioneer
and dedicated advocate of Spiritualism.
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