Emma Hardinge – Britten
(1823-99)

Born in London, the daughter of a ‘seafarer’, Captain Floyd Hardinge, Emma was a child with prodigious talents in music, singing and speaking. At the age of 11 she was earning a living as a music teacher. In 1856 she went to America as part of a theatrical company where the mediumistic abilities she had shown as a child became more apparent. In that year, she gave a message from a sailor who had drowned when the Pacific, a mail steamer went down. She avoided court proceedings when a few weeks later she was proven to have been accurate.

Emma built upon the work of the Fox sisters, who were promulgating the message of spirit survival through demonstrations of phenomena. Emma became a deep trance speaker touring and campaigning in America, Australia, New Zealand and England spreading the same message through mediumship and speaking.

After the assassination of President Lincoln she gave the ‘Great Funeral Oration on Abraham Lincoln’ in 1865 which earned her a lot of respect.

In 1870 she wrote the book ‘Modern American Spiritualism, considered the classic history of the Movement in America and married Dr Britten a fellow worker for Spiritualism the same year

Back home she turned her attention to the work of the Lyceums and with others she compiled the first Lyceum Manual which was published in 1887. She had already written three books and in 1887 she started ‘The Two Worlds’ which she edited for the first five years.

Although she had been born into an Evangelical family, Emma was by this time strongly anti-Christian and tried to get Spiritualist societies to stress the religious side of spirit teachings. She was the channel for Robert Owen when he gave the philosophy which became the basis of the Seven Principles, the cornerstone of spiritualist beliefs.

Emma had always advocated and worked for a national body of Spiritualists, succeeding in 1890 when the National Spiritualist Federation was formed, stating that the basis of the religion of Spiritualism should be a belief in the Seven Principles, a decision repeated when the Spiritualists’ National Union Ltd succeeded the earlier Federation. Spiritualists and Modern Spiritualism owe a lot to Emma Hardinge Britten.