Swaffer, Hannen (1879–1962)
Journalist, drama critic, author, and publicist for Spiritualism.
He was born on November 1, 1879, in Lindfield, Sussex,
England, and was educated at Stroud Green Grammar School.
The family moved to London, where young Swaffer discovered
that his neighbor was a journalist; he immediately decided that
this would be his profession. Many years later, that neighbor
worked for Swaffer on the Weekly Dispatch.
Swaffer joined the Daily Mail in 1902 and spent a number
of years working under Lord Northcliffe, becoming, in succession,
news editor, art editor, night editor, and assistant editor
of the Daily Mirror. He originated a gossip column in the Daily
Sketch that was soon extensively copied by other newspapers.
He also worked on the Daily Herald and was drama critic for the
Daily Express. He was editor of the Weekly Dispatch, and later he
was editor of The People. For many years, ‘‘Swaff’’ was a familiar
and eccentric figure in London’s Fleet Street, center of the naSurvival
Joint Research Committee Trust Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
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tional newspaper offices. He affected somewhat Bohemian
dress, as befitted a drama critic, and was popularly known as
‘‘The Poet.’’
He became convinced of survival in 1924, through attending
direct voice sittings with the medium Gladys Osborne
Leonard in the circle of H. Dennis Bradley. These sittings
were strongly evidential of the survival of Swaffer’s old chief
Lord Northcliffe, who had died in 1922. Swaffer published accounts
of the séances in The People and created a sensation with
his book Northcliffe’s Return (1924).
He became an indefatigable propagandist for Spiritualism,
and argued that Spiritualism and socialism were two halves of
one great whole. He succeeded Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as
honorary president of the Spiritualists’ National Union and
the Spiritualist Community, and he was connected with other
Spiritualist organizations.
In 1932, Swaffer was one of the three cofounders of the wellknown
British newspaper Psychic News—the other two were his
accountant Jack Rubens and his friend Maurice Barbanell
(who was editor for many years). He died January 16, 1962.
Sources
Driburg, Tom. ‘‘Swaff’’ The Life and Times of Hannen Swaffer.
London Macdonald, 1974.
Swaffer, Hannen. Adventures with Inspiration. N.p., 1929.
———. Behind the Scenes. N.p., 1928.
———. Hannen Swaffer’s Who’s Who. London Hutchinson,
1929.
———. Norcliffe’s Return. London Hutchinson, 1925.
———. Studies in Psychology. N.p., 1933.