Cooper, Blanche (ca. 1927)
British direct voice medium at the center of the famous
Gordon Davis case. In 1921–22, S. G. Soal, then a teacher at
the University of London carried out a series of experiments
and observations surrounding Cooper’s mediumship. He was
concerned with the remarkable communications he obtained
from a deceased brother, from presumably fictitious entities,
and from a friend, Gordon Davis. Davis was believed to have
died in the war but was later discovered alive in 1925 and was
ignorant of the communications that came through in his
‘‘voice.’’ (See Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research,
vol. 35, 1926.)
In his report, Soal says Cooper
‘‘ . . . does not go into trance and in the intervals when the
voice is not speaking she is apparently normal and able to converse
with the sitters and sometimes even able to repeat words
which the voice has just said. There is, however, right through
the sittings a certain degree of absentmindedness and the medium
is sometimes slow to respond to questions addressed to
her by the sitter. While the voice is not speaking she keeps up
a continuous humming noise with her lips, and this humming
noise ceases when the voice comes into play. Throughout the
period of my own experiments the medium seemed unable to
sustain the voice for more than a minute or two at a time and
the information was given for the most part in rapid snatches
punctuated by periods of silence lasting from a minute up to
a quarter of an hour. Moreover, it appeared that the voice
could only be produced while the musical box was playing, and
only on one or two occasions were words spoken a second or
two after the music had ceased. Objective lights were seen at
every sitting but these appeared in the silent intervals and were
never simultaneous with the voices. These lights varied in appearance
from dim amorphous patches to bright bluish discs
about the size of a half a crown.’’
Soal noticed the peculiar feature that ‘‘questions asked by
the sitter are seldom answered immediately in the case when
the sitter is holding the correct answer in his conscious mind.’’
In such cases it was usually found that the idea had to pass back
into the unconscious mind of the sitter before it could emerge
from the automatism of the medium. The communicator, when
asked for an answer, would usually reply, ‘‘I cannot give it now,
but will try to give it later.’’ Then at a later period of the sitting,
when the sitter had forgotten the question, the correct answer
would be given. In cases when the correct answer was not
known to the sitter, a direct question would often result in immediate
In the case of Gordon Davis, his voice, accent and manner
of speech were reproduced fairly accurately. He described incidents
of his boyhood known to Soal, and described his last
meeting with Soal and the substance of their conversation. He
expressed a desire to send messages of comfort to his wife and
child, and though he did not give the circumstances of his
death, spoke as if he were deceased. He gave an accurate description
of the environment and interior arrangements of a
house which he did not occupy until a year later.
In the debate over Soal’s paper before the Society for Psychical
Research, Dr. Wolley suggested that when the house was
described in Davis’s spirit voice (Soal) the sitter was unconsciously
forseeing an event in his own life, i.e., his visit to the
house in April 1925.
This theory, however, would allow almost any piece of information
given by a medium and afterward verified by the sitter
to be considered the sitter’s forseeing the future and subconsciously
passing it along to the medium.