Stokes, Doris (1920–1987)
British psychic who established a worldwide reputation for
her clairaudience. Born Doris Sutton, January 6, 1920, in
Grantham, Lincolnshire, she grew up in poverty. Her father
was gassed in World War I and retired on a small pension;
Doris’s mother was obliged to take in laundry work to augment
the family income. Her father died while Doris was still in
school. She left school at age 14 and became a nurse. During
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Stokes, Doris
this period she discovered she had psychic abilities, but they remained
At 24, she married John Stokes, an army paratrooper. During
World War II, she was officially notified that her husband
had been killed in action. Reportedly, her dead father appeared
to her, however, and stated that her husband was alive
and would return, which he did.
Later Doris had another vision, in which her father appeared
again to warn her that her baby son would soon die but
that he would take good care of him after death. Although the
child was perfectly healthy, he died at the time and date predicted.
Subsequently John and Doris attended a local Spiritualist
church, where Doris claimed she was told that she would become
a medium. She was unwilling at first, but gradually her
mediumship developed. It principally took the form of hearing
spirit voices.
In her autobiography, Voices in My Ear (1980), she describes
the problems and temptations of a young medium. She was
often worried about losing continuity with the spirit voices and
the members of the audience for whom the messages came. She
was advised by a visiting medium to use one of the ‘‘tricks of the
trade’’ by arriving at the meeting early, listening to what people
said to each other, then slipping away and writing down conversations
and names, to be used later to keep contact between
the spirit voices and the audience.
It seemed like cheating, she said, but at her next meeting
Stokes tried it, and it was successful, until in the middle of a
communication that had been ‘‘helped out’’ in this way contact
with the spirit voice was suddenly broken. She struggled to continue,
but dried up and had to break off. After two more spirit
communications, her spirit guide, ‘‘Ramonov,’’ supposedly told
her to go back to the recipient of the message and apologize.
This happened at two meetings, after which Stokes determined
never again to help out spirit communications in that
way, in spite of the fear she felt at losing contact. After that, she
openly admitted it to the audience if she lost contact with the
spirit voices and simply tried to reestablish the link. She warned
other developing mediums to be brave enough to admit it if no
messages were being received. In 1948 her credentials as a
bona fide clairaudient were endorsed by the Spiritualists National
Union in England.
In more than thirty years of mediumship, Stokes attracted
large and enthusiastic audiences and also appeared on popular
radio and television shows in Australia, New Zealand, and the
United States. She often dumbfounded skeptical reporters and
presenters by the accuracy of her spirit messages. Her reputation
as a Spiritualist superstar was phenomenal. On her Australian
tour, she packed the massive Sydney Opera House three
nights in a row, and a private plane was chartered to take her
from city to city. A television soap opera was postponed to
make room for her.
Yet this international fame came only in later life. Prior to
the mid-1970s, she had lived in modest circumstances in Lancaster,
working as a nurse, or giving her mediumistic services
to Spiritualist churches for no more than modest traveling expenses,
sometimes giving private consultations for £1 (two or
three dollars).
Stokes moved to London and became well known as a
clairaudient medium, but she never ceased to be amazed by her
growing fame. She made no showbiz concessions but appeared
on stage in a simple frock, sitting in an armchair, and speaking
to her audience in colloquial language.
Her fame attracted derisive and often hostile criticism from
skeptics, but she met controversy head on and would not be
bullied. In 1980 she appeared on a British television show with
professional magician James Randi, who denounced her (without
evidence) as a liar and a fake. When Doris challenged Randi
to appear with her and prove her a fake, he declined.
In addition to Voices in My Ear Doris Stokes wrote several
other popular books of reminiscences More Voices in My Ear
(1981), Innocent Voices in My Ear (1983), A Host of Voices (1984),
Whispering Voices (1985), Voices of Love (1986), and Joyful Voices
(1987). Their combined sales exceeded two million copies. Unfortunately,
in her last years, she was quite ill and had to go
through several operations. She died May 8, 1987, two weeks
after surgery for removal of a brain tumor.