Chapter Two - So where did all of this Ghost Hunting begin?

Did you know that the term ghost hunting was only first seen in writings by an Irish man named Elliot O'Donnell ( 1872-1965) in his book Confessions of a Ghost Hunter.

                                                        The dapper Mr Elliot O"Donnell

‘Let me state plainly that I lay no claim to being what is termed a scientific psychical researcher. I am not a member of any august society that conducts it’s investigations of the other world, or worlds, with the test tube and weighing apparatus; neither do I pretend to be a medium or clairvoyant — I have never undertaken to “raise” ghosts at will for the sensation-seeker or the tourist. I am merely a ghost hunter. One who lays stake by his own eyes and senses; one who honestly believes he inherits in some the degree the faculty of psychic perceptiveness from a long line of Celtic ancestry; and who is, and always has been, deeply and genuinely interested in all questions relative to phantasms and a continuance of individual life after physical dissolution.’  (O’Donnell; 1964)
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Elliot was known primarily for his books about ghosts. He claimed to have seen a ghost, described as an elemental figured covered with spots, when he was five years old. He also claimed to have been strangled by a mysterious phantom in Dublin (thanks Wikipedia)
He claimed descent from Irish chieftains of ancient times, including Niall of the Nine Hostages (the King Arthur of Irish folklore) .
In later life he became a ghost hunter.

His first book, written in his spare time, was a psychic thriller titled For Satan's Sake (1904). From this point onward, he became a writer. He wrote several popular novels, including an occult fantasy called The Sorcery Club (1912)
 Elliot specialized in what were claimed as true stories of ghosts and hauntings.
These were immensely popular, as they still are today, but he is said to have been a bit over zealous with his description of events leading some people to question his authenticity.
O'Donnell wrote material for numerous magazines,including Hutchinson Story Magazine, The Novel Magazine, The Idler, Weekly Tale-Teller, Hutchinson's Mystery-Story Magazine and Pearson's Magazine.
He became known as an authority on the supernatural and he was called upon as a ghost hunter.
He also lectured and broadcast (radio and television) on the paranormal in Britain and the United States.
In addition to his more than 50 books, he wrote scores of articles and stories for national newspapers and magazines. He claimed "I have investigated, sometimes alone, and sometimes with other people and the press, many cases of reputed hauntings. I believe in ghosts but am not a spiritualist."

Elliot O’Donnell was an extraordinary man to pursue such an unusual topic and make a career out of it.He was, perhaps, the first of the great media star ghost-hunters.
His fame has been largely eclipsed by Harry Price, another huge figure of the time,  yet he was in his day a household name all over the world.

 I have to say that I just adore the old books about ghosts and phantasms! They are so much more descriptively written and often offer insights that are valuable to those of us who seek out ghostly experiences. they are certainly not to be dismissed because they were written 50 or 100 years ago.

Ghost "hunting" is not a term I really like. I don't think that we are really trying to hunt them down (at least I am not) but it packs rather a more dramatic punch that saying 'ghost watcher or observer' which tends to suggest that we have no direct contact or interaction. I am sure Elliot was pleased with the reaction that he got when he coined the term Ghost Hunter - certainly its a term we all use today.


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