Swaffer, Hannen

Swaffer, Hannen (1879–1962)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Hannen Swaffer was a British Fleet Street journalist—known as “the Pope of Fleet Street"—who became a great advocate of Spiritualism. He wrote for the newspapers the Daily Express and the Sunday Express as theater critic, among other things. Swaffer created a lot of enemies with his blunt assessments of actors’ performances. The actor Raymond Massey said, “Hannen Swaffer, a critic and theatre writer on the Daily Express, entered Noel Coward’s dressing room after a fine performance in S. N. Behrman’s The Second Man unannounced. He had been insufferable in his abuse of Noel (and of me too). ‘Nowley,’ he sneered in his assumed cockney accent, ‘I’ve always said you could act better than you write.’ ‘And I’ve always said the same about you,’ was Noel’s instant reply.”

Swaffer once said, of his own job, “Freedom of the press in Britain means freedom to print such of the proprietor’s prejudices as the advertisers don’t object to.”

Swaffer was a good friend of Maurice Barbanell and many other prominent Spiritualists. Sir Henry Segrave went to talk with Swaffer about Spiritualism after receiving a lifesaving message from spirit by way of an anonymous sitter with a home circle group. The journalist arranged séances at his own apartment, which Segrave attended. At one of these, the medium Archie Emmet Adams caused a piano to levitate and produced other physical phenomena. Later in his racing life Segrave commented, “The only time I was ever frightened was when I saw a piano jump in Hannen Swaffer’s flat.”

Swaffer also introduced Lionel Logue to medium Lilian Bailey, at a time when Logue was desperate and considering suicide after the death of his wife. Logue was the Austalian speech therapist who cured England’s King George VI of his stutter. Bailey was able to help Logue and he remained forever grateful to Swaffer for the introduction. Swaffer was one of the people most active in the Spiritualists’ National Union, along with Arthur Findlay, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Maurice Barbanell. He died in 1962.


Barbanell, Maurice: This Is Spiritualism. Oxshott: The Spiritual Truth Press, 1959
Hannen Swaffer Quotations: http://www.saidwhat.co.uk/quotes/h/hannen_swaffer_1535.php
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