Verrall, Margaret de Gaudrion Merrifield
(1859–1916)
Prominent British psychical researcher, medium and lecturer
in classics at Newnham College. She was born December 21,
1859, at Brighton, England, and educated at Newnham College,
Cambridge University. She married A. W. Verrall, the
well-known classical scholar, in 1882.
Verrall joined the Society for Psychical Research, London,
in 1889. She wrote a number of papers for the Proceedings at the
request of Frederic William Henry Myers, held sittings with
the medium Leonora S. Piper when she visited England, and
was elected to the Council in 1901.
Eventually she developed psychic powers herself and in
1901 through automatic writing obtained the first significant
results after the death of Myers. Afterwards she produced hundreds
of scripts which often contained matter of paranormal interest.
In 1906, she published an analysis of her own scripts in
the society’s Proceedings which formed the starting point of a serious
study in cross-correspondence.
Sir Oliver Lodge paid the following tribute to Verrall in his
book The Survival of Man (1909)
‘‘The fame of Mrs. Piper has spread into all lands, and I
should think the fame of Mrs. Verrall also. In these recent cases
of automatism the society has been singularly fortunate, for in
the one we have a medium who has been under strict supervision
and competent management for the greater part of her
psychical life; and in the other we have one of the sanest and
acutest of our own investigators, fortunately endowed with
some power herself, some power of acting as translator or interpreter
between the psychical and the physical worlds.’’
After years of experiments and testing, Verrall concluded
‘‘It cannot be denied that the ‘communicator’ of the Piper
sittings and of my own scripts presents a consistent personality
dramatically resembling that of the person he claims to be. I
entirely acquiesce in this judgment. . . . The boundary between
the two states—the known and the unknown—is still substantial,
but it is wearing thin in places; . . . and we are at liberty,
not indeed to announce any definite conclusion, but to adopt
as a working hypothesis the ancient doctrine of a possible intercourse
of intelligence between the material and some other,
perhaps ethereal order of existence.’’
She died July 2, 1916, at Cambridge. Her daughter Helen
married W. H. Salter, another prominent psychical researcher.

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