The Two Worlds of Helen Duncan

Helen Duncan’s name has become well known in several different ways. Among Spiritualists she was known for her gifts for materialisation, for being one of the most tested and hounded mediums and for becoming “Spiritualism’s martyr”. To the British newspaper-reading public she was known as the woman accused of fraud, whose case eventually reached the Old Bailey and in legal records she was the last person to be convicted under the iniquitous ‘witchcraft: Act’. 

Those who witnessed her amazing materialisation seances still testify that she was absolutely genuine. Time has dealt kindly with the memories remaining of this hard-working, fearless Scotswoman who was eventually crushed by the law. 

\Vhat has never been told is the story of how her mediumistic gifts affected her family and how she combined her Spiritualist faith with her life as a wife and mother. Who better to tell this than her daughter, Gena Brealey. She relates the whole story of her mother’s mediumship, her early life, the deterioration in her health and her ultimate passing, clue in no small measure to the stress endured as a result of police prosecution and imprisonment. 

The real story of Helen Duncan bears out the theory that truth is often stranger than fiction.