This paper considers the way chemist William Crookes (1832–1919) utilized the editorship of the Quarterly Journal of Science to promote the scientific importance of spirit phenomena. It explores the publishing of Crookes’s series of sensational articles that investigated the ‘Psychic Force’ (1870–1874), a purported force of nature that Crookes discovered during experiments with the medium Daniel Dunglas Home (1833–1886). Crookes thus used the platform afforded to him in the journal to describe his experiments and present his evidence within the framework of an orthodox scientific discourse. While Crookes endured much criticism from certain scientific men, the serial format of his investigation meant that he was able to generate a great deal of interest. It also meant that his subsequent articles in the series could respond to critics by adjusting his experiments, overcoming perceived difficulties, and providing his readers with new and exciting details concerning his ongoing investigation as it was being conducted.

Assoc. Prof. Ian Hesketh is an Associate Professor in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland. Among his recent publications include Victorian Jesus: J. R. Seeley, Religion, and the Cultural Significance of Anonymity (2017) and the forthcoming edited volume Imagining the Darwinian Revolution: Historical Narratives of Evolution from the Nineteenth Century to the Present (2022).

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