Crosland, Camilla (1812–1895)
Well-known author who, under her maiden name, Camilla
Toulmin, became one of the early champions of Spiritualism
in England. She was born in London on June 9, 1812, the
daughter of a solicitor. Her father died when she was eight,
leaving the family impoverished. Camilla’s education was mostly
the result of private study. During the 1850s a constant guest
of her house, a young lady, was discovered as the possessor of
remarkable mediumistic powers. Three years of investigation
brought conviction of survival to both Camilla and her husband.
In 1856 Newton Crosland published a small book entitled
Apparitions. This was followed in 1857 by the more important
work of Camilla’s, Light in the Valley My Experiences in
Spiritualism. Because of strong public prejudice against the new
Spiritualist ideas filtering into the country at the time, the Croslands
suffered both financially and socially for publishing their
opinions. As a result, however, several people, including Robert
Chambers, Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall, and Mary and William
Howitt, came to investigate. They all became convinced of the
genuineness of the manifestations. Michael Faraday was invited
to test his unconscious muscular action theory regarding
table movement, but he sent John Tyndall instead. In Fragments
of Science for Unscientific People (1871) Tyndall published a derisive
account of the sitting.
Crosland went on to write a number of books. In her last
work, Landmarks of a Literary Life (1893), she devoted a chapter
to the bold defense and elucidation of Spiritualism. She died
in East Dulwich, England, on February 16, 1895.
Crosland, Newton. Apparitions. N.p., 1957.
Toulmin [Crosland], Camilla. Light in the Valley My Experiences
in Spiritualism. London; New York G. Routledge & Co.,
Tyndall, John. Fragments of Science for Unscientific People. New
York Appleton, 1872.

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