Saturday, January 01, 2022

Enfield Material At A University Of Cambridge Web Site

The University of Cambridge hosts an archive for the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). There are listings of the contents of that archive available online. Go here and run a search with the term "Enfield" to find some results that are relevant to the Enfield Poltergeist. The material is old in one sense, but new in another. It's archived material that's been around for a while, some of it for close to half a century. But some of it hasn't gotten much attention yet, as far as I know. For example, on the page here, we read the following about Cambridge's archived material related to Anita Gregory's doctoral thesis that discusses Enfield:

A clipped bundle; includes: one (1) letter to Eleanor O’Keeffe from Maurice Grosse dated 29 November 1985 regarding defamatory statements in Anita Gregory’s thesis, one (1) letter from J. Grattan-Guiness dated 22 November 1988 against proposals to amend Anita Gregory’s thesis, one (1) letter from A.T. Oram to Donald (West?) dated 30 October 1985 regarding the removal of Gregory’s thesis from the library to avoid any legal action, one (1) letter to A.T. Oram to D.J. West dated 2 November 1985 discussing the legal issues around Gregory’s thesis, one (1) letter from A.T. Oram to Donald (West?) dated 10 November 1985 deciding that the thesis must be kept ‘locked up for now’, one (1) letter from A.T. Oram to Donald (West?) dated 15 November 1985 proposing a draft procedure for dealing with Gregory’s thesis, one (1) letter from John Beloff to D.J. West dated 15 November 1985 stating they should not let a threat of libel ‘interfere with the free expression of opinion and with criticisms made in good faith’, one (1) letter dated 19 October 1983 to Eleanor O’Keeffe from Philip Goldenberg regarding the legality of republishing Anita Gregory’s thesis, one (1) letter from Mary Rose Barrington to Eleanor O’Keeffe dated 20 November 1985 stating ‘I thought that the Enfield chapter of Anita’s thesis was entirely unsuitable for publication’, and one (1) letter from Eleanor O’Keeffe to Maurice Grosse dated 15 January 1986 informing him that Anita Gregory’s thesis had been removed from the SPR library

As I've said in my threads responding to Gregory's thesis (here and here), I think Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair were wrong in some aspects of how they responded to Gregory's thesis and how they responded to her more broadly. Though their view of the Enfield case was much closer to the truth than Gregory's view, they should have handled the situation differently than they did. But it's striking that Mary Rose Barrington went as far as to say "I thought that the Enfield chapter of Anita’s thesis was entirely unsuitable for publication". I agree with Barrington that Gregory's Enfield chapter in her thesis is highly problematic, for reasons like the ones explained in my two threads linked above. Barrington's comments illustrate that Grosse and Playfair weren't the only people who saw significant problems with Gregory's thesis in those early years.

There's a lot of other significant material at the Cambridge site. I'll just provide a few examples and let those who are interested look for more.

On the same page linked above, we read about "one (1) letter from John Beloff to John Stiles dated 3 July 1978 stating that he believed the original paranormal activity may have been genuine but that the current activity is likely faked". So, it looks like Beloff was significantly open to the initial paranormality of the case, to the point of mentioning his openness to it in a letter to Stiles (one of the members of the SPR's committee that researched Enfield and produced a report on the subject).

There's a reference to "One (1) letter from Guy Playfair to Anita Gregory dated 8 May 1980 asking her to ‘make it clear […] that my intention to write a book arose only after the lack of interest in my report shown by the SPR’".

You can run a search on Anita Gregory to find her material in the archive.

By the way, in light of all the references to Tony Cornell ("A.D. Cornell") in the Cambridge listings, I want to provide an update to some comments I made in a previous thread about his unpublished Enfield material. I contacted the publisher of his book, Investigating The Paranormal, and they told me that Cornell's family wanted to republish the book in England, which Helix Press couldn't do, so they released the book back to the family. I then contacted another publisher about the possibility of publishing a new edition of Cornell's book that would include his unpublished Enfield material that he initially wanted to include in the book. I haven't heard back from that other publisher.


  1. Thanks for this, Jason.

    I agree with you about Grosse and Playfair’s approach to Anita Gregory, as it often smacks of suppression. Recently re-reading Robert McLuhan’s excellent book 'Randi's Prize' ( though, I realized how much his concept of “rational gravity” applies to skeptics like Gregory, Wiseman and Joe Nickell. In fact, the concept reinforced my belief that the Gregory's notebook incident really did happen.

    As for Cornell's book, it is in my opinion a model of good sense and proportion; it embodies all the qualities that an investigator should have. Although not a proponent of paranormal phenomena in the same way that say, Grosse was, Cornell clearly came to the conclusion that it would be idle to deny that genuine paranormal phenomena happens. It’s a shame that Helix Press couldn’t republish Cornell’s book, since it’s one of the best books on the paranormal I’ve ever read. Sadly, it seems that a lot of publishers only really care about profits nowadays, and so it’s left to small and specialist publishers to see the value in publishing a book like Cornell’s.