(1882 to 1968)
Osborne was born on May 28, 1882, at Lythom, on the coast of Lancaster,
in England. She was the eldest of four children born of Isabel
and William Osborne. Her father was a wealthy yachting entrepreneur,
and for the first part of Gladys' life, money was no problem.
As often happens with many natural mediums, Mrs. Leonard exhibited
early signs of her sensitive nature. In her autobiography, My
Life in Two Worlds, she explains:
morning . . . I saw visions of most beautiful places. In whatever
direction I happened to be looking would gradually come valleys,
gentle slopes, lovely trees and banks covered with flowers of
every shape and hue . . . The most entrancing part to me was
the restful, velvety green of the grass that covered the ground
of the valley and the hills. Walking about . . . were people
who looked radiantly happy. They were dressed in graceful flowing
draperies, for the greater part, but every movement, gesture
and expression suggested in an indefinable and yet positive
way a condition of deep happiness, a state of quiet ecstasy."
She did not look upon these visions as anything abnormal. However,
an inner sense guided her to keep silent about them, until one
morning, at breakfast, she said to her father, "Isn't that a specially
beautiful place we are seeing this morning?" Inasmuch as her father
did not understand these visions, from that time forward she was
forbidden to look upon these "happy valleys."
As Mrs. Leonard approached adolescence, she experienced great
changes in her life. Her family underwent great financial loss
and, from then on, she had to manage for herself. She trained
her already lovely voice and then did some work in opera and theatrical
companies, singing and dancing in various leads and comedy parts.
During this part of her life, while she was singing at a local
Spiritualist church, a medium told her that her guides were preparing
her for a "great spiritual work." She accepted the message, albeit
not knowing quite what to do with it.
On December 18, 1906, her mother died. That evening, she had been
staying with a friend. Although her mother had not been well,
no one suspected that she was seriously ill. At 2:00 a.m., Gladys
awakened with a strange feeling. She relates the story:
looked up and saw in front of me, but about five feet above
the level of my body, a large, circular patch of light. In this
light I saw my mother quite distinctly. Her face looked several
years younger than I had seen it a few hours before . . . She
gazed down on me for a moment, seeming to convey to me an intense
feeling of relief and a sense of safety and well-being. Then
the vision faded. I was wide awake all the time, quite conscious
of my surroundings."
The next morning she learned that her mother had died at 2:00
Shortly thereafter, Gladys met an actor named Frederick Leonard,
who later became her devoted husband and lifelong friend. From
this point forward, her life as a medium took some definite directions.
Although Mrs. Leonard knew nothing of her guides, she had an inner
compulsion to investigate the philosophies of Spiritualism and
psychic research. She knew that the only way this could be done
with dedication and responsibility was for her and her husband
to remain in the London area. So, despite better offers elsewhere,
they decided to accept the low-paying theatrical jobs in London.
It was very difficult for the Leonards to make ends meet, but
they knew that there was a greater plan in store for them and
they would cope with the current situation, as best they could,
until this plan became revealed.
one of her engagements, Mrs. Leonard met two sisters, whom she
called Florence and Nellie, who were interested in Spiritualism.
Florence suggested that the three of them sit around a table to
see what, if anything, would happen. So they made an appointment
to sit regularly during the hour's break in the evening performance.
It took quite some time for anything to happen, but finally on
the 27th evening the table began to tilt up and down. Using the
old table-tilting method with the alphabet, a series of evidential
messages began pouring forth. It was during these table sittings
that Mrs. Leonard was introduced to her guide, Feda. Apparently,
Feda was a Hindu girl who had married Mrs. Leonard's great-great-grandfather,
William Hamilton. On the eve of her return to England with her
husband, sometime around 1800, Feda died after giving birth
to a son. She had been at the time only thirteen years old. It
should be noted that the guide's real name was not Feda,
but rather one much too long to be practical. It was Mrs. Leonard
who chose letters in the name and called the guide Feda.
told me . . . that she had been watching over me since I was born,
waiting for me to develop my psychic powers so that she could
put me into a trance . . . I must confess that the idea of going
into a trance did not appeal to me." Despite her objection, there
was a work to be done, and just as with so many of the truly dedicated
workers for Spirit, it was not long before Mrs. Leonard decided
to place the work ahead of herself and her concerns and allow
herself to become entrance by Feda. Thus began her long
life of dedicated service as a medium.
Mrs. Leonard was one of the most thoroughly investigated mediums
of the twentieth century. For more than fifty years she gave remarkable
evidence of personal survival to countless sitters. Perhaps the
most significant in her life was a series of sittings she gave
to Sir Oliver Lodge, the renowned physicist. In 1915, he and Lady
Lodge visited Mrs. Leonard, anonymously at first. With the information
given by Feda, they were convinced that they were communicating
with their son Raymond, who had recently been killed in the war.
Sir Oliver was not one to accept mediumistic utterances blindly,
and he put Mrs. Leonard through a severe series of tests. But
the evidence kept coming forth, and it became impossible to deny
the obvious: Raymond lived on. Sir Oliver Lodge's book, Raymond,
or Life After Death, is an examination of his search for survival
Investigations into Mrs. Leonard's mediumship were conducted by
the world's most noted psychic researchers of the time: Rev. C.
Drayton Thomas, Rev. Vale Owen, James Hewat McKenzie, Mrs. W.
H. Salter, and Whately Carington, to name but a few. She was subjected
to very close scrutiny, not for any moral reasons, but because
all noted mediums were being investigated at this time. Amazingly
enough, she never seemed to be bothered by this, for she knew
that she had nothing to hide in her work.
The material which came through Mrs. Leonard did so in a variety
of ways, many of which were used by the researchers to determine
its origin. They include:
TESTS, in which Feda would direct the sitter to a certain
book in a certain place in his or her home where, on a given
page, the sitter would find a special message. Significant
results from these tests were reported by many investigators.
SITTINGS, in which the person present with her would be acting
as a proxy on behalf of the actual sitter. The sitter was
known neither to the medium nor to the person acting as a
CORRESPONDENCE, in which part of a message would come through
her mediumship and part through another medium.
For a complete list of investigations on Mrs. Leonard's mediumship,
you may consult the Society for Psychical Research - Combined
Index, Part III, pages 50 through 52, and Part IV, page 104.
What, in my opinion, is most interesting about Mrs. Leonard's
mediumship is the way in which she and Feda worked together.
Mrs. Leonard was, primarily, an evidential medium. However, rather
than relating clairvoyant images and clairaudient messages to
the sitters, herself, Feda would entrance Mrs. Leonard,
and it was Feda who would give the actual messages from
the Spirit people.
Mrs. Leonard functioned as a trance medium, with Feda controlling
her. In that state, Feda, herself, acted as a message medium
and related what she saw and heard from others in Spirit. What
we have, here, are two mediums -- one in body and one in Spirit
-- both working together, as one channel for communication. Absolutely
A good deal of the research done with Mrs. Leonard revolved around
Feda's relating how she worked with the medium and how
she, herself, was able to link with the various Spirit people
and relate their messages through Mrs. Leonard. One would think
that, with this setup, Feda would very easily be able to
see and hear what others, in Spirit, had to say; but, such was
not the case. Even though Feda was in Spirit, she had to
mentally "reach out" to the various Spirit communicators and invite
them to draw closer -- in terms of vibration -- to the circle
of energy-consciousness which was established around Mrs. Leonard
at the time of the sitting. In other words, until they "stepped"
into that light, Feda was neither able to see nor hear
the Spirit people with any real degree of clarity.
All mediums know that the key to successful Spirit communication
lies in establishing a strong vibrational link with the Spirit
Hundreds of pages of the Society for Psychical Research's Proceedings
were devoted to the Leonard mediumship. Personally, I learned
more about how mediumship works from the research done on Mrs.
Leonard's mediumship and from what Feda related about how
she worked with the medium and the Spirit communicators than from
any other source, bar none. It really does represent an amazing
wealth of information and insight into the details and intricacies
of Spirit communication. I would recommend to both beginners and
veteran mediums: Consult these Proceedings. You will learn
an amazing amount about your own mediumship and what you can do
to increase its effectiveness.
Even though Mrs. Leonard never lacked for work as a medium and
was often surrounded by many of England's finest minds, she considered
herself an ordinary woman using a means of communication which,
to her, was just as natural as talking on the telephone. She was
always open to investigation and never succumbed to the temptation
of cheating. She had a firm understanding of mediumship and knew
that one does not simply turn it on and off. When she found herself
unable to work properly -- something which rarely happened --
she would accept this and acknowledge that fact to the sitter.
When her husband became very ill and needed nearly constant attention,
all work with mediumship ceased and she serviced him in his time
In the forward to Mrs. Leonard's autobiography, Sir Oliver Lodge
communicate with the spiritual world most of us require the
services of a human being with an organism trained to allow
itself to be used by other intelligences, who are thus able
to demonstrate their existence and to send messages of affection
or comfort. Mrs. Leonard is such a medium and has proved herself
in the past to be the best or one of the best that I have known."
This represents just one of the many testimonials concerning the
fine work and character of Mrs. Gladys Osborne Leonard. Her work,
recorded in the annals of psychic research, represents a great
source of understanding and dedication to the work of Spirit.
In her work, she set an example of honesty, integrity, and professionalism
which, to this day, may be used as a basis of all types of mediumship.
On March 10, 1968, at the age of 85, during her sleep, Mrs. Gladys
Osborne Leonard quietly passed out of the body, in order to continue
her work on that higher realm of Spirit.