Smarty Pants Podcast

Between Science and Séance

The poltergeist that cemented a ghost hunter’s theory about the psyche

By Stephanie Bastek | April 30, 2021
Barry Fielding
Barry Fielding

On the eve of World War II, a young housewife named Alma Fielding found herself in the grip of a poltergeist hell-bent on flinging china through the air, toppling over dressers, and leaving no egg uncracked in her London home. Her case caught the attention of the Hungarian ghost hunter Nandor Fodor, whose tests at the International Institute for Psychical Research led to ever-odder phenomena from Alma: a bird flew from her skirts, beetles crawled beneath her gloves, stolen jewelry materialized on her fingers. In The Haunting of Alma Fielding, Kate Summerscale tells the story of an investigation that combines the supernatural and subconscious, revealing the very real anxieties of a changing society.

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