Cook, Kate Selina (1859–1923)
One of the more famous British materialization mediums
and sister of Florence Cook, Kate Cook was comparatively less
known, as she sat more privately and did not undergo the same
scrutiny as her sister.
Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace writes about a series of sittings
he attended in My Life (1902)
‘‘. . . They took place in the rooms of Signor Randi, a miniature
painter, living in Montague Place, W., in a large reception
room, across one corner of which a curtain was hung and a
chair placed inside for the medium. There were generally six
or seven persons present. Miss Cook and her mother came
from North London. Miss Cook always dressed in black, with
a lace collar, she wore laced boots and had earrings in her ears.
‘‘In a few minutes after she had entered the cabinet the curtains
would be drawn apart and a white-robed female figure
would appear and sometimes come out and stand close in front
of the curtain. One after another she would beckon to us to
come up. We then talked together, the form in whispers; I
could look closely into her face, examine the features and hair,
touch her hands and might even touch and examine her ears
closely, which were not pierced for earrings. The figure had
bare feet, was somewhat taller than Miss Cook, and though
there was a general resemblance, was quite distinct in features,
figure and hair.
‘‘After half an hour or more this figure would retire, close
the curtains and sometimes within a few seconds would say
‘Come and look.’ We then opened the curtains, turned up the
lamp, and Miss Cook was found in trance in the chair, her black
dress, laced boots, etc., in the most perfect order as when she
arrived, while the full-grown, white-robed figure had totally
disappeared.’’
Writing of a séance with Mrs. Ross in New York, Wallace
adds
‘‘But what specially interested me was that two of the figures
beckoned to me to come up to the cabinet. One was a beautifully-draped
female figure, who took my hand, looked at me smilingly
and on my appearing doubtful, said in a whisper that she
had often met me at Miss Kate Cook’s séances in London. She
then let me feel her ears, as I had done before, to prove that
she was not the medium. I then saw that she closely resembled
the figure with whom I had often talked and joked at Signor
Randi’s, a fact known to no one in America.’’
Stainton Moses sat with Kate in 1878, and F. W. Myers sat
with her a number of times between 1878 and 1882. Both were
impressed with her performance.
In 1907, three years after her sister Florences’s death, Kate
married her widower. In 1923 she inherited what was left of the
fortune wealthy Manchester citizen Charles Blackburn originally
put at Florence’s and then at Kate’s disposal.
Sources
Marryat, Florence. There Is No Death. New York John W.
Lovell, 1891. Reprint, New York Causeway Books, 1973.
Medhurst, R. G., and K. M. Goldney. ‘‘William Crookes and
the Physical Phenomena of Mediumship.’’ Proceedings of the
Society for Psychical Research 54 (1964) 25.
Wallace, Alfred Russel My Life A Record of Events and Opinions.
London Chapman & Hall, 1902.

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