Lodge, Sir Oliver Joseph

Lodge, Sir Oliver Joseph,

1851–1940, English physicist, grad. University College, London (B.S., 1875; D.Sc., 1877). He made valuable contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy and conducted research on electrons, the ether, and lightning. From 1881 to 1900 he was professor of physics at University College, Liverpool, and from 1900 to 1919 principal of the Univ. of Birmingham. In 1902 he was knighted. Lodge was greatly interested in reconciling science and religion and was an ardent believer in spiritualism and in survival after death. His writings on both physical and psychical research are listed in Bibliography of Sir Oliver Lodge (1935), compiled by Theodore Besterman.


See his autobiography (1932).

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Sir Oliver Lodge, noted physicist, mathematician, and psychical researcher. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.

Lodge, Sir Oliver Joseph (1851–1940)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

liver Joseph Lodge was born at Penkhull, Staffordshire, England, on June 12, 1851. He was destined to become a world famous physicist and psychical researcher. At twenty-one, Lodge entered University College, London, and obtained his doctorate in 1877. Two years later he became assistant professor of applied mathematics at the college. In 1881, he became the Chair of Physics in University College, Liverpool, where he remained until 1900. At that time Lodge became the first principal of Birmingham University. He was knighted in 1902 and retired in 1919.

Although Lodge had dabbled in psychical research since 1883, it was from 1910 onward that he became especially prominent in the field. He sat with such mediums as Eusapia Paladino and Leonore Piper. He witnessed Paladino séances in the house of Professor Charles Richet, on the Île Rouchard. In his report for the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, he wrote, “There is no further room in my mind for doubt. Any person without invincible prejudice who had had the same experience would come to the same broad conclusion, viz., that things hitherto held impossible do actually occur.” His sessions with Leonore Piper, a mental medium, were very thorough, the first sitting taking place in 1889 in England. His first report was published the following year.

In 1908, that Lodge publicly stated that he believed it was quite possible to make the connection and to speak with those who had passed on. In 1913, speaking as President of the British Association, he said he had become convinced that “memory and affection are not limited to that association with matter by which alone they can manifest themselves here and now, and that personality persists beyond bodily death.”

On August 8, 1915, Leonore Piper gave Lodge a message from the spirit of Richard Hodgson, who had died ten years before. The message was an obscure reference to the Roman poet Horace’s account of his own narrow escape from a falling tree, due to the intervention of Faunus, the ancient Roman deity of wild nature. The message indicated that Lodge would have such a near-devastating experience but would survive it. Shortly after, Lodge received news that his son, Raymond, had been killed in World War I action on September 14, which was a tremendous blow to Lodge.

Lodge was a spokesman for Spiritualism who strongly believed in the ability to communicate with the dead. His many books include Man and the Universe (1908), The Survival of Man (1909), Life and Matter (1912), Science and Religion (1914), Raymond, or Life and Death (1916), Raymond, Revised (1922), Why I Believe in Personal Immortality (1928), The Reality of the Spiritual World (1930), and his autobiography Past Years (1931). He died at Lake, near Salisbury, England, on August 22, 1940.


Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The History of Spiritualism. New York: Doran, 1926
Encyclopedia Britannica. Chicago: William Benton, 1964

Fodor, Nandor: Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. London: Arthurs Press, 1933

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