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An engrossing tale of malevolent spirits

Kate Summerscale's new history is her most empathetic work to date

Alma Fielding's Thorton Heath house was apparently haunted Credit: Creative Commons

Alma Fielding's Thorton Heath house was apparently haunted Credit: Creative Commons

Nandor Fodor first encountered 34-year-old Alma Fielding in London in 1938. Crowds had gathered outside Alma’s Thornton Heath house, whose occupants, including husband, son and lodger, were quaking in their beds: saucers and lumps of coal flew through the air, ornaments smashed, handprints appeared on mirrors. The house “seemed to be under siege from itself.”

Alma—the apparent focus of the haunting—had written to the Sunday Pictorial urging them…

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