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Emma Hardinge Britten
(1823-1899)

Emma Hardinge Britten is, perhaps, the most renowned and most respected advocate and proponent in the early Modern Spiritualist Movement.

She was the daughter of Captain Floyd Hardinge, whom writers call a seafaring man. Early in her life, she had shown gifts as a musician, singer, and speaker. In fact, at age 11 she was earning her living as a music teacher.

Under contract with a theatrical company, she went to America in 1856 where, through the mediumship of Miss Ada Hoyt (Mrs. Coan), she became converted to the Spiritualist philosophy. There, she began developing her own abilities as a medium and sat publicly for the Society for the Diffusion of Spiritual Knowledge of New York (what a wonderful name).

As a young medium, she furnished one of the best attested cases of early Spirit return. A member of the crew of the mail steamer, Pacific, which had sunk in the ocean, controlled young Emma and, in trance, disclosed the facts of the tragedy. Because of the nature of the details given through her mediumship, Emma Hardinge was threatened with prosecution by the owners of the boat when the story was made public, but all the details were found to be true and accurate.

Her mediumistic gifts embraced automatic and inspirational writing, psychometry, healing, prophecy, and inspirational speaking. She was best known for her inspirational addresses, which were very eloquent, inspiring, and informative. They were given completely extempore, and the subject was generally chosen in the auditorium by a committee from the audience.

Most historians agree that, as a propagandist for Spiritualism, she was unequaled in her zeal, commitment, and enthusiasm. For years she traveled all over the United States, Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand, expounding the truths of Spiritualism and related areas of thought.

Emma Hardinge Britten founded and edited for five years the Two Worlds of Manchester. She was also among the founders of the Theosophical Society in New York, in 1875. However, she soon severed her connections with Madame Blavatsky.

Although she was not alive to see this happen, her dream of establishing a proper and formal "school of prophets" (training school for mediums) was realized in 1900, with the founding of the Britten Memorial Institute and Library, in Manchester, England.

Emma Hardinge Britten's writings include: Modern American Spiritualism, New York, 1870; Nineteenth Century Miracles, New York, 1884; Faith, Fact and Fraud of Religious History, Manchester, 1896; Extemporaneous Addresses, London, 1866. She was editor of the American periodical, The Western Star, 1872, and the British The Unseen Universe, 1992-1893.

Her classic, Modern American Spiritualism, is still considered the finest and most complete analysis of the early American Movement. We remember her as a true pioneer and dedicated advocate of Spiritualism.

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