Eusapia Palladino
Eusapia Palladino
Eusapia Palladino was born of peasant stock in Minervo-Murge, near Bari in Italy, in 1854. Her mother died at her birth and, when she was 12 years old, her father was murdered by brigands. Soon after, she began to show signs of psychic gifts, and for most of the rest of her life she became the subject of a succession of scientific investigations.

While she was being securely held or fastened, investigators reported, there would be raps and bangs on the furniture in the room, the bodies of the investigators themselves would be touched, and various objects - even tables - would be moved or levitated.

In the year 1894 the eminent French physiologist Professor Richet invited two leading members of the Society for Psychical Research in London to take part in experiments with Eusapia at his summer villa. They returned to London convinced of her paranormal powers.

But the secretary of the American SPR, Dr Richard Hodgson, declared that the experimental conditions had been insufficient to prevent fraud, and in twenty seances held in Cambridge he proved his point: Eusapia was caught cheating. In 1908, however, the SPR reported that she 'was not detected in fraud in any one of 470 phenomena at eleven seances.'

The American psychic investigator Hereward Carrington brought Eusapia to America, and at a seance at Columbia University she was caught once more using tricks. But Carrington remained convinced that, in the right conditions, she could produce genuine phenomena.