Tillyard, R(obin) J(ohn) (1881–1937)
British psychical researcher and biologist, vice president of
the National Laboratory of Psychical Research in 1926. He
was born in Norwich, England, on January 31, 1881. He was
educated at Dover College, and Queen’s College, Cambridge
University (M.A., Sc.D.). Following his graduation in 1903 he
migrated to Australia and taught at the Sydney Grammar
School for a decade (1904–13) before becoming a Fellow in Zoology
at Sydney University (1914–17) and then a lecturer in zoology
in 1917. In 1920 he became Chief Entomologist to the
Commonwealth of Australia.
He traveled to England and the United States in the 1920s
to sit with mediums, especially Mina Crandon (‘‘Margery’’).
This sitting convinced him of survival of bodily death. He published
his convictions in 1928 in Nature. In a ‘‘solus’’ sitting with
‘‘Margery’’ in Boston, he obtained apparent fingerprints of
‘‘Walter,’’ the control. In his enthusiastic letter to Sir Oliver
Lodge he stated ‘‘This séance is, for me, the culminating point
of all my psychical research; I can now say, if I so desire, nunc
dimittis, and go on with my own legitimate entomological
work.’’ However, there now seems little doubt that this particular
phenomenon was fraudulent.
During his association with psychical researcher Harry
Price at the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, Tillyard
also investigated the phenomena of Eleonore Zügun and
Stella C.
In his book Confessions of a Ghost Hunter (1936; 1974), Harry
Price described a visit to Jeanne Laplace, a French clairvoyant,
who gave a remarkable series of correct statements about Tillyard
through simply holding a letter from him (without seeing
the letter itself). The impressions included the prediction, later
fulfilled, that he would die in a railway accident.
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Evans, J. W. The Life and Work of Robin John Tillyard,
1881–1937. St. Lucia University of Queensland Press, 1963.
Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
New York Helix Press, 1964.
Tillyard, R. J. ‘‘Evidence of Survival of a Human Personality.’’
Nature 122 (August 28, 1928).
———. ‘‘Science and Psychical Research.’’ Nature 118