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The inventor of “spirit photography” meaning, he photoshopped ghosts before photoshop existed

Tijana Radeska
William Hope
William Hope

Even though he started working as a carpenter in his youth, Willian Hope soon became known in Spiritualist circles for his ability to capture images of spirits on a camera.

He started his career in 1905 and established the Crewe Circle Spiritualist group with many members joining in and following Hope.

William Hope

William Hope

It didn’t take long until spiritualists and investigators of paranormal activities started to reveal their opinions that Hope’s photographs were fake. However, since 1906 he was protected by William Crookes, who received a spirit photograph of his wife. Crookes was a convinced spiritualist and a respected scientist, and not many could argue against his word.

A couple with the spirit of their deceased daugther

A couple with the spirit of their deceased daughter

When he saw the photograph of Lady Crookes, the physicist Oliver Lodge claimed that Hope was using double exposure and that the picture was copied from a wedding anniversary photo.

Crookes was still convinced that the photo was genuine, but doubts about Hope never settled down. However, the man pursued with his business.

Mrs Longcake and the spirit of her deceased sister-in-law

Mrs. Longcake and the spirit of her deceased sister-in-law

In 1920, Hope was caught in a trap and exposed by Edward Bush who used the fake name “Wood” and sent a letter to Hope with a photograph od a living person. When Hope produced a photo with the spirit looking exactly like the photo he received from Bush and on it were the words “Dear Friend Wood.” Many got convinced that Hope’s photographs were fake.

Reverend Charles L Tweedale, his wife, and the spirit of her deceased father 1919

Reverend Charles L Tweedale, his wife, and the spirit of her deceased father 1919

 

Mr and Mrs Gibson and the spirit of their deceased son (1919)

Mr. and Mrs. Gibson and the spirit of their deceased son (1919)

And for those who still believed they are genuine, investigations followed to prove them wrong. In 1922, the Society for Psychical Research and the paranormal investigator Harry Price and few other people revealed Hope’s fraud.

Price set a trap for Hope by secretly marking his photographic plates and giving him a few additional ones covertly etched with the brand image of the Imperial Dry Plate Co. Ltd. in the knowledge that the logo would be transferred to any images created with them.

Hope made a few photos of spirits but none of those contained the Imperial Dry Plate Co. Ltd logo which meant that he used prepared materials of fake spirit images. Price have said that Hope was found guilty of a fraud and that none of his photographs was genuine.

Harry Price, and friend. As taken by William Hope

Harry Price, and friend. As taken by William Hope

During this time, many spiritualist frauds have been exposed publicly by spiritualists themselves and by investigators of paranormal activities.

The annual meeting of the "Society for the Study of Supernormal Pictures". Including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife (Center, Left) (1922)

The annual meeting of the “Society for the Study of Supernormal Pictures”. Including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife (Center, Left) (1922)

 

Mrs Hortense Leverson and the spirit of her deceased husband, Major Leverson (1931)

Mrs. Hortense Leverson and the spirit of her deceased husband, Major Leverson (1931)

When Price published an article of the Hope’s exposure, Arthur Conan Doyle led a massive resignation of 84 members of the Society for Psychical Research because he believed their investigations are rather opposed to spiritualism.

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Even though Hope was exposed by Price and a few times before that, and many spiritualists suspected him, he remained a prominent figure in spiritualist circles and continued to provide images of spirits.