Harris, Melvin (1940– )
Contemporary British author, researcher, and radio commentator
who has investigated claimed paranormal phenomena.
His position is skeptical and has been bolstered by his own
personal detailed research. After years of teaching and lecturing,
Harris became a full-time broadcaster with BBC Radio,
presenting dozens of programs on such topics as the history of
the phonograph, unusual inventions, the telephone centenary,
magnetic recording, and the story of the bassoon. He actually
makes baroque oboes as a hobby, and the Melvin Harris Collection
of early recordings of performances on wind instruments,
at the University of Washington, Seattle, is the largest in the
He was a researcher for the television series Arthur C. Clarke’s
Mysterious World and Strange Powers, and was described by the
producer Simon Welfare as ‘‘a great detective of the supernatural.’’
His radio series Strange to Relate dealt with many classic
mysteries and bizarre events of history, and his book Sorry,
You’ve Been Duped! (1986) debunks many misconceptions about
such well-known mysteries as the Amityville Horror, the Bloxham
Tapes, the Angels of Mons, and mediums.
Based on scores of earlier books and articles about the celebrated
Jack the Ripper case by other writers, his own book Jack
the Ripper The Bloody Truth (1987) exposes fake documents,
doctored quotations, and falsified references on the subject.
Harris concludes, in a well-argued presentation, that the probable
identity of the Ripper was an occultist with a medical background
who committed his grisly crimes as part of a black
magic ritual. Harris claims that the Ripper was known to Theosophist
Mabel Collins and also to journalist W. T. Stead.
Harris, Melvin. Jack the Ripper The Bloody Truth. London
Columbus Books, 1987.
———. Sorry, You’ve Been Duped! London Weidenfeld and
Nicolson, 1986.