Friday, 9 November 2018

Her Eyes Were Wild: Fairies and Madness

7.45pm Thursday 25 April 2019
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook Page

Many today wish to see a fairy; many in the Middle Ages wished that they had not. To encounter a spirit was to be drawn out of the warm world of human solidarity into solitude, wasting, grief and madness. Fairies brought mental illness in their train, and even the healing power of saints found it hard to stitch up a broken mind. 

The fairy mythology provided ready-made narratives for understanding and containing mental disturbance, stories continuing in Irish and Scandinavian culture. Fairies – with their caprice, their deceptions, their insubstantial grandeur – were like the shadows cast by a disordered mind. 

Folklorist Jeremy Harte reveals how mental illness was often ascribed to fairies – and how a troubled person, led astray by fairies, could imagine their way back to human society 

7.45pm Thursday 25 April 2019
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook Page

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Super-Recognisers: Spotting Faces in a Crowd

7.45pm Thursday 28 March 2019
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East


Crowd Of Faces by Dawn Hudson (Public Domain)
The use of police super-recognisers in London has vastly increased suspect identification rates from CCTV in recent years. They perform exceptionally highly at familiar and unfamiliar face recognition, simultaneous face matching and spotting target faces in videos of large crowds. Non-police super-recognisers are also superior to most people at long-term face recognition, even when faces are heavily disguised. 

Psychologist Dr Josh P Davis of the University of Greenwich explores his research on these very rare individuals and his work with the police and courts

7.45pm Thursday 28 March 2018
£4 / £2 (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Diagnosis: Unexplained

Tuesday 19 March 2018
8pm (doors 7.45pm)
£5 / £2 concessions  (Advance tickets
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS
Tube & Rail: London Bridge
Facebook page

Early medical journals contain numerous cases which appear inexplicable to modern science. One Victorian patient apparently had an entire family of slugs living in her stomach; another started to emit urine from her eyes, ears and even her navel. 

Thomas Morris examines some of the strangest tales ever reported in the medical literature, from exploding teeth to the world's first amphibious baby. 

Thomas is a writer based in London.  He as  worked as a radio producer for the BBC for 17 years, making programmes including Front Row, The Film Programme, Open Book and
Night Waves – and spent five years at Radio 4 as producer of Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time.  In early 2015 he left the BBC to write full-time.  His journalism has appeared in publications including The Lancet, The Times, the Financial Times and The Cricketer.

Tuesday 19 March 2018
8pm (doors 7.45pm)
£5 / £2 concessions  (Advance tickets
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS
Tube & Rail: London Bridge
Facebook page

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Interview with a Vampire Expert

7.45pm Thursday 28 February 2018
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East


The Vampire has fascinated Western Europe from the early 1700s, but the tradition was a real part of Eastern European lives for a considerable time before that. The archetype has been taken up by art of all kinds, but what is the authentic history behind the tales of the predatory, living dead?

Deborah Hyde, editor of The Skeptic, looks at recent attempts to understand the folklore and tries to work out how an eastern European ritual made its way to late 19th-century New England.

7.45pm Thursday 28 February 2018
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Thursday, 1 November 2018

The Mermaid’s Tale

7.15pm Thursday 7 February 2018
£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page



The Mermaid’s Tale examines the complex family tree of the mermaid, from ancient images to modern media. Mythology, symbolism, romance and lechery, with a touch of fraud and a taste of salt. Sophia Kingshill has written the history of the mermaid, travelling back 3,000 years to discover the enduring myths and the vibrant folklore that continue to enchant us and ensure the mermaid’s survival.

Sophia  is the author of Mermaids (Little Toller, 2015), a cultural history of sirens, selkies and other sea women. She is co-author of The Fabled Coast (Random House, 2012) and The Lore of Scotland (Random House, 2009), with the late Jennifer Westwood. Her YA fantasy novel Between the Raven and the Dove was published by Accent Press in 2017, and she is currently working on the sequel. She lives in London and is a member of the Folklore Society.

7.15pm Thursday 7 February 2018
£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

Methods from Madness: Magic, Ghosts and Experimental Psychology

Dr Matt Tompkins mixes storytelling and magical scientific demonstrations to explore how scientists, past and present, have approached the study of illusion. 

7.45pm Thursday 31 January 2018
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East






On Sunday November 18th 1877, at 3pm in the afternoon, Wilhelm Wundt, sometimes identified as the “Founder of Experimental Psychology”, joined hands with a group of academics and bore witness to a series of “miracles” in the presence of a visiting American spirit medium. Wundt was unconvinced by what he saw – but a number of his esteemed colleagues, including world-renowned physicist Johann Zöllner, believed that the events they had witnessed called for a complete revision of the fundamental laws of physics – a revision that could accommodate immortal fourth-dimensional spirit people. 


The resulting debate was not itself immortalised in any mainstream psychology textbooks, but, arguably, it played a fundamental role in the subsequent emergence of Experimental Psychology as a formal scientific discipline. Magician and experimental psychologist Dr Matt Tompkins mixes storytelling and magical scientific demonstrations to explore how scientists, past and present, have approached the study of illusion. 

7.45pm Thursday 31 January 2018
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Strange December Book Fair: UFOs, Ghosts, Zombies and Much More

Christmas should be stranger. Join London Fortean Society for an afternoon of talks on ghosts, UFO art, voodoo, the world's first amphibious baby and much more. There will be book sales, stalls pizza and beer to mark the darkening days before Yule.

Saturday 1 December 2018
12pm-6pm
£15 / £10 concessions (advance tickets)
Black Magic Friday! All tickets £10 this weekend
Backyard Bar and Kitchen, 231 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 0EL
Train & Tube: Bethnal Green
Tube: Whitechapel / Train: Cambridge Heath




Speakers include:

Cathi Unsworth - Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?
Sophia Kingshill - The Mermaid’s Tale
David Clarke - In the Eye of the Beholder: UFO Artwork
Susan Owens - The Appearance of Ghosts
John Cussans - Bond's Black Ops: Graham Greene, Papa Doc and Loa OS 22
Thomas Morris - Diagnosis: Unexplained

Stall to be confirmed

Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?
Cathi Unsworth is the author of six pop-cultural crime novels based on real-life unsolved or controversial cases. Her latest, 'That Old Black Magic' (Serpent's Tail), interweaves the true stories of the Hagley Woods mystery of 1943 and the trial of Helen Duncan, the last woman to be prosecuted for witchcraft in the UK, in 1944.


Real life characters mingle with the imagined in a secret history of spiritualists, stage magicians and spooks of all persuasions under the blackout of Britain's bleakest hours. 

Sophia Kingshill - The Mermaid’s Tale
‘The Mermaid’s Tale’ examines the complex family tree of the mermaid, from ancient images to modern media. Mythology, symbolism, romance and lechery, with a touch of fraud and a taste of salt.

Sophia Kingshill is the author of Mermaids (Little Toller, 2015), a cultural history of sirens, selkies and other sea women. She is co-author of The Fabled Coast (Random House, 2012) and The Lore of Scotland (Random House, 2009), with the late Jennifer Westwood. Her YA fantasy novel Between the Raven and the Dove was published by Accent Press in 2017, and she is currently working on the sequel. She lives in London, and is a member of the Folklore Society.

Dr David Clarke - In the Eye of the Beholder: UFO Artwork

Dr David Clarke from Sheffield Hallam University's Centre for Contemporary Legend will talk about his book UFO Drawings at The National Archives. He will look at the myriad ways in which people have depicted strange phenomena in the sky, from the earliest times to the drawings, paintings and other artwork that was submitted to the former Ministry of Defence UFO desk that closed in 2009.

Dr. Susan Owens - The Appearance of Ghosts: shrouds, sheets or see-through? 


The idea that the dead can return to haunt the living is deeply rooted in the British imagination, and ghosts are central to countless plays and paintings, stories and ballads, photographs and films. But why has the appearance and behaviour of ghosts in art and literature altered over time? When did they stop wearing shrouds and put on white sheets or become see-through? And what do these changes reveal about them – and us?

Dr. Susan Owens, former Curator of Paintings at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is the author of The Ghost: A Cultural History.


Bond's Black Ops - Graham Green, Papa Doc and Loa OS 22

John Cussans, author of 'Undead Uprising: Haiti, Horror and the Zombie Complex' examines the story of Papa Doc, François Duvalier: President of Haiti from 1957 to 1971, emulated the Vodou loa of the dead Baron Samedi, a tale first promoted by Graham Greene that finds an uncanny precedent in Ian Flemming's 1954 novel Live and Let Die.


Thomas Morris - Diagnosis: Unexplained

Early medical journals contain numerous cases which appear inexplicable to modern science. One Victorian patient apparently had an entire family of slugs living in her stomach; another started to emit urine from her eyes, ears and even her navel. Thomas Morris examines some of the strangest tales ever reported in the medical literature, from exploding teeth to the world's first amphibious baby.


Christopher Josiffe - Black Books: the Curious Career of Rollo Ahmed
A friend to Aleister Crowley, Tom Driberg and Dennis Wheatley (who consulted him on supposedly authentic details for several of his 'black magic' novels), author, lecturer and magician Rollo Ahmed was one of very few Black people on the mid-20th century literary and occult scenes. An eloquent writer and by all accounts a charming and magnetic personality, there is still mystery surrounding his background and even his real name. Christopher Josiffe will attempt to shed some light on this elusive character.'


Saturday 1 December 2018
12pm-6pm
Black Magic Friday! All tickets £10 this weekend
£15 / £10 concessions (advance tickets)
Backyard Bar and Kitchen, 231 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 0EL
Train & Tube: Bethnal Green
Tube: Whitechapel / Train: Cambridge Heath