William Fishbough Revealed as Author of ‘The Planchette Mystery’

Abstract : Citation : Online Sources : Other Notes

View this article on Notes and Querieswebsite or download the accepted manuscript (pdf).


Four hands rest on a planchette which scribbles on a piece of paper.

A 19th-century planchette scribbles away. Scientific American, 8 July 1868. Image: Public domain via Archive.org.

Currently available from around thirty e-book purveyors is a nineteenth-century Spiritualist work entitled The Salem Witchcraft, the Planchette Mystery, and Modern Spiritualism, with Dr. Doddridge’s Dream, generally attributed (as by Project Gutenberg and Amazon.com) to ‘Harriet Beecher Stowe and Phrenological Journal’. This book is a compilation of four independent works previously printed in the Phrenological Journal, published together with added notes by S. R. Wells in May 1872. New editions were printed until at least 1886, yet its proper authors have yet to be fully credited. ‘The Planchette Mystery’ and ‘Dr. Doddridge’s Dream’ are presented without authorial credit, and have been left as such for the last century and a half; thanks to the digitization efforts of Google Books, I have uncovered the author of the former.


Pentangelo, Joseph. 2016. William Fishbough Revealed as Author of ‘The Planchette Mystery.’ Notes and Queries 63(2), 263–265.

Online Sources

Many of the sources that I refer to in this and my other papers are publicly available online for free. This section provides links to all such sources. (It’s not my complete reference list.)

A Scientific Puzzle Board. 8 May 1885. The Plattsburgh Sentinel, 2.
(NYS Historic Newspapers)

Fishbough, William. 14 January 1854. Ancient Christian Spiritualism. The Spiritual Telegraph 2(37), 1.

Fishbough, William. September 1870. What They Say: ‘The Planchette Mystery’. The Phrenological Journal & Packard’s Monthly 3(3), 221–222.
(Google Books)

Hodge, Brandon. G. W. Cottrell. Mysterious Planchette.

Journal Miscellany, Ready May 1st. 1872. The Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated 54(5), 3.
(Google Books)

My Acquaintance with Planchette. 7 August 1868. The Native Virginian, 1.
(Chronicling America)

The Spiritualists’ Directory. 6 June 1857. Spiritual Telegraph 6(6), 2.

Weird Writings. 14 November 1893. The Morning Call, 8.
(Chronicling America)

Wells, S.R. (ed.). 1886. The Salem Witchcraft, the Planchette Mystery, and Modern Spiritualism, with Dr. Doddridge’s Dream. New York: Fowler & Wells Co.

What is Planchette? 1868. Scientific American 19(2), 17–18.

Other Notes