Celebrating Women's History Month


Continuing to celebrate the literary theme and Women's History Month, let's talk about a different form of ghostwriting. A story written last December by Emily Ludolph, reveals a whole new literary medium, automatic writing. Ludolph explains the process like this, "Automatic writing, where, according to believers, a spirit guides the pencil of a living medium as he or she writes out the spirit's message."  W.B. Yeats was obsessed with his much younger wife, Georgie Hyde-Lees, as she was a "ghostwriter." Yeats would have Georgie dedicate many hours a week, creating over 4,000 pages of material. As Ludolph continues, "Most importantly, the spirits provided Yeats with raw material for his poems. All of it was from Georgie's pencil." Not unexpected, she received none of the credit.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave his wife, Lady Doyle, a simple dedication acknowledgement for, Pheneas Speaks, a collection of his wife's (a spiritual collaborator) automatic writing. There are many representations of this sort of deception from the Victorian era and it went on for some time when finally, a spirit medium, Geraldine Cummins, took Frederick Bligh Bond to court after taking full credit for the publication of The Chronicle of Cleophas. "In a ruling, that would bizarrely, affect the course of intellectual property law forever after, Geraldine Cummins won the copyright. Cummins vs Bond determined that an author is the one who converts the message of the supernatural into readable language."

Read Emily Ludolph's essay (in its entirety), W.B. Yeats' Live-in "Spirit Medium", provided by JSTOR Daily, and you will soon see why the sub-heading reads: In the Victorian era, a different kind of ghostwriting became popular - largely because it allowed men to take all the credit.