Why the Victorians became spellbound by the paranormal – Telegraph.co.uk

When we think of the Victorians in Britain, we tend to conjure up an image of austere folk in possession of a stern and Gradgrindian outlook. Stiffly posed photos from the time do little to dispel such a view. But take another look at life towards the end of the era, and you’ll see a far more playful spirit – and a passion for a subject unrelated to hard facts and figures. Namely: the paranormal and our ability to connect with it.

Low life expectancy meant that even by the 1890s, the average age of the population was somewhere in the early 20s, compared to today’s average age of 40. With this mass youthfulness came a fondness for amusement and mischief. Meanwhile, death was all around. You could…