Biography of Spirtual Co-Author Pearl Curran Part 3

About the automatic writer Pearl Curran who produced a large amount of poetry and books through the help of the spirit world.


She Wrote Best-sellers Dictated by a Spirit

Actually, Curran's education was probably far better than that of most of her contemporaries. She had been taught in various public and private schools, a Catholic academy, and several Protestant Sunday schools. Anecdotes suggest that she was a precocious learner during childhood. Furthermore, she was given fairly extensive tutoring and, during adolescence, began a prolonged period of musical training in both voice and piano. In the six years prior to her marriage at 24, she studied and worked in Chicago each winter, occasionally playing the piano in her medium-uncle's spiritualist church--despite her aversion to that "most unpleasant" atmosphere.

In contrast to the bland and uncomplicated picture of Pearl Curran advanced by several chroniclers of the phenomenon, the image of the spirit, Patience Worth, was vivid and even extravagant. Through pronouncements and occasional self-revelations, Patience gradually emerged as a diminutive, red-haired country spinster, voluble, witty, and caustic, a bit vain and flirtatious, but also very devout and sentimental. Her eyes and ears were keen; she missed little that transpired about her, either in those busy nights during the first half of this century or at other times in history.

At the July 8, 1913, seance with the Ouija board, Patience had formally introduced herself: "Many moons ago I lived. Again I come--Patience Worth my name." On another occasion, Patience revealed that in 1649 she had lived in the Dorset area of England, and subsequently in colonial America. At still another time, she claimed an indefinite existence, roaming eternity like the Ancient Mariner. She stated, "I be like to the wind, and yea, like to it do blow me ever, yea, since time. Do ye to tether me unto today I blow me then tomorrow, and do ye to tether me unto tomorrow I blow me then today."

The huge literary heritage of this collaboration between Pearl Curran and Patience Worth is all but forgotten today. Presented largely in an Elizabethan-like English dialect, it was already archaic in 1913 and is now considered superannuated, unfashionable, and even trite. But though much of the material is superficial by present standards of literary expression, its piquant flashes of wit and insight cannot be denied.

As to the issue of the credibility of this supernatural alliance between an untutored, "happy housewife" in 20th-century St. Louis and a brilliant and restless spirit from all the ages--well, there was no small controversy over the issue when the partners made their literary debut. Many explanations were put forth, but as the years passed, the crux of the matter was determined by one's answers to the following questions: Was literary creation generated from within Pearl Curran as an active process? Or, did the force flow through her as an agency of eternity? Either, it was felt, one must accept that Pearl Curran had greater talent than was generally recognized, and, like some idiot savant, poured forth this amazing volume of material from her own complex mind. Or Patience Worth did in fact occupy some realm yet poorly understood and had chosen this particular time, place, and person to share her ageless wisdom. As with most other aspects of existence, Patience had some words about this possibility:

Is my winter night, fraught with borrowed warmth,

And flowers, and filled with weeds,

Which spring e'en 'neath the frozen waste?

Ah, is the winter then my season's close?

Or will I pin a faith to hope and look

Again for spring, who lives eternal in my soul?

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