Friday, 22 August 2014

Supernatural: The World Guide to Mysterious Places

The book is beautifully produced with lots of atmospheric photographs and illustrations. The problem arises where information in the text is provided. Take, for example, Sarah Bartlett's entry on Highgate Cemetery where just about everything she says about the investigation is either erroneous or falsely attributed.

We are told of a "Romanian nobleman and practitioner of the black arts" (in fact, it was first muted by a journalist in a local newspaper back in February 1970). Sarah Bartlett attributes the claim and vampire theory to David Farrant. The newspaper, of course, did not; and nor did the theory originate with Farrant.

We are then told that Farrant believed "after the cemetery opened in the 19th century the vampire occupied one of the vaults." That will certainly come as news to Farrant because it was most definitely not him who stated this.

Referring to the "official vampire hunt on Friday, March 13, 1970," the authoress misinforms her readers that the vampire hunters "found nothing." Anyone the least bit familiar with this case will know that statement to be unsupported by what is written in The Highgate Vampire (BOS, 1985; Gothic Press, 1991). Not only was the vampire's lair  located on that night, but also the vampire's empty coffin was found.

Sarah Bartlett continues: "Meanwhile, Farrant, under the guidance of a psychic, claimed to learn the location of the vampire's grave. One night, he entered an undisclosed family vault and lifted the massive lid off one of the coffins. He was about to drive a stake through the body when his companion persuaded him to stop. Reluctantly, Farrant shut the coffin, and left garlic in the vault."

The scene she describes is taken directly from Seán Manchester's book The Highgate Vampire, but she has attributed everything that happened to a man who was not even present, ie David Farrant, much less was he part of the serious investigation that took place into the vampire case. Sarah Bartlett might just as well as have named Farrant as being the author of The Highgate Vampire instead of the person who actually did write it.

There are other errors in her entry in the chapter titled "Vampire Haunts," but the point has been made. 

The question remains, however, as to how this could come about?

The authoress describes herself as someone with a Diploma in Psychological Astrology who has written twenty "psychospiritual books" and "divides her time between London and the south of France where she teaches and practices astrology and other occult arts." David Farrant describes himself as someone who has been involved in witchcraft and the occult. In the 1970s, Farrant was jailed for graveyard vandalism, desecration and threatening people with black magic. Seán Manchester is a well known author, vampirologist and exorcist who took holy orders in the previous century to become a bishop holding traditional beliefs and views. Were the false attributions in Supernatural: The World Guide to Mysterious Places by accident or design? If the former, the authoress is so inadequate as a researcher that she should surely spend less time in the south of France and more time concentrating on original source material. 

If the latter, well ...

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