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Frederic William Henry Myers

Frederic William Henry Myers (6 February 1843, in Keswick, Cumbria – 17 January 1901, in Rome) was a poet, classicist, philologist, and a founder of the Society for Psychical Research.[1]

Early life[]

Myers was the son of Revd Frederic Myers (1811–1851)[2] and his second wife Susan Harriet Myers nee Marshall (1811–1896).[3] He was a brother of poet Ernest Myers (1844–1921) and of Dr. Arthur Thomas Myers (1851–1894).[2] His maternal grandfather was the wealthy industrialist John Marshall (1765–1845).[4]

Myers was educated at Cheltenham College and at Trinity College, Cambridge where he received a B.A. in 1865,[5][6] and university prizes, including the Bell, Craven, Camden and Chancellor's Medal: however he was forced to resign the Camden medal for 1863 after accusations of plagiarism.[4] He was a Fellow of Trinity College from 1865 to 1874 and college lecturer in classics from 1865 to 1869. In 1872 be became an Inspector of schools.[4]

In 1867, Myers published a long poem, St Paul, which became popular. It was followed in 1882 by The Renewal of Youth and Other Poems. He also wrote books of literary criticism, in particular Wordsworth (1881) and Essays, Classical and Modern (in two volumes, 1883), which included an essay on Virgil.[citation needed]

Psychical research[]

Myers was interested in psychical research and was one of the founder members of the Society for Psychical Research in 1883.[7][8][9] He became the President in 1900.[10]

In 1893 Myers wrote a small collection of essays, Science and a Future Life.[11]

In 1903, after Myers's death, Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death was compiled and published. It was two large volumes at 1,360 pages in length, which presented an overview of Myers's research into the unconscious mind.[9][12][13] Myers believed that a theory of consciousness must be part of a unified model of mind, which derives from the full range of human experience, including not only normal psychological phenomena but also a wide variety of abnormal and "supernormal" phenomena.[12][13]

Frederic Myers has been described as an "important early depth psychologist", who influenced William James, Pierre Janet, and Théodore Flournoy and also Carl G. Jung.[14]

Metetherial World[]

Myers speculated on the existence of a deep region of the unconscious (collective unconscious) or what he termed the “subliminal self” which he believed could account for paranormal events. He also proposed the existence of a “metetherial world,” which he wrote to be a world of images lying beyond the physical world. He wrote that apparitions are not hallucinations but have a real existence in the metetherial world which he described as a dream-like world.[15] Myers’ belief that apparitions occupied regions of physical space and had an objective existence was in opposition to his contemporaries views such as Edmund Gurney and Frank Podmore who wrote that apparitions were hallucinations.[16]


Myers' research into psychical research and his ideas about a "subliminal self" are metaphysical and have not been accepted by the scientific community.[17] English author Ronald Pearsall wrote that Myers had sexual interests in the young lady mediums that he investigated.[18]

Personal life[]

In 1880, Myers married Eveleen Tennant (1856–1937), daughter of Charles Tennant and Gertrude Tennant. They had two sons, the elder the novelist Leopold Hamilton Myers (1881–1944), and a daughter.[4]

See also[]


  • Bruce Greyson
  • Irreducible Mind


Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Frederic William Henry Myers
  1. William James. Frederic Myers's Service to Psychology The Popular Science Monthly, August 1901, pp. 380–389.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Template:ODNBweb
  3. Kripal, Jeffrey J. (2010). Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Gauld (2004)
  5. Myers, Frederic William Henry in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  6. Catherine W. Reilly (2000). Victorian poetry, 1860–1879: an annotated biobibliography Continuum International Publishing Group, p. 332.
  7. (2004) Analytical psychology: contemporary perspectives in Jungian analysis, Psychology Press.
  8. Grattan-Guinness, Ivor (1982). Psychical Research: A Guide to Its History, Principles & Practices – in celebration of 100 years of the Society for Psychical Research, Aquarian Press.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Gail Marshall (2007). The Cambridge companion to the fin de siècle, Cambridge University Press.
  10. Society for Psychical Research:Past Presidents
  11. Frederic William Henry Myers. Science and a Future Life
  12. 12.0 12.1 Emily W. Kelly and Carlos S. Alvarado. Images in Psychiatry: Frederic William Henry Myers, 1843–1901 American Journal of Psychiatry, 162:34, January 2005.
  13. 13.0 13.1 W. McDougall. Review: Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death Mind, Vol. 12, No. 48 (Oct., 1903), pp. 513–526.
  14. Book review:Irreducible Mind, The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Vol.29, No 4, Autumn 2008.
  15. Myers, F. H. W. (1903). Human personality and its survival of death. London: Longmans.
  16. Gurney, E., Myers, F. W. H., & Podmore, F. (1886a). Phantasms of the living. Vol I and II London: Trubner.
  17. Jenny Hazelgrove. (2000). Spiritualism and British Society Between the Wars. Manchester University Press. pp. 194-195
  18. Ronald Pearsall. (1972). The Table-Rappers. Book Club Associates. p. 50
  • Template:ODNBweb

Further reading[]

  • Hall, Trevor H. (1980). The Strange Story of Ada Goodrich Freer, Gerald Duckworth and Company.
  • Hall, Trevor H. (1980). The Strange Case of Edmund Gurney, Gerald Duckworth and Company.
  • Hamilton, Trevor (2009). Immortal Longings: F.W.H. Myers and the Victorian search for life after death, Imprint Academic.
  • Kripal, Jeffrey J. (2010). Authors of the Impossible; the Paranormal and the Sacred, University of Chicago Press.
  • Oppenheim, Janet (1988). The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England, 1850–1914, Cambridge University Press.

External links[]

Template:Spiritism and Spiritualism

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