CollectionCatherine Crowe Collection
TitleCatherine Crowe Collection
Name of creatorLarken, Geoffrey, author
Crowe, Catherine Ann (1790-1872), novelist and writer on the supernatural
Extent7 boxes and 47 bound items
DescriptionCatherine Ann Stevens Crowe (1790-1872) was born in London but spent most of her childhood at Borough Green in Kent. Little is known of her early life until she married Lt Col John Crowe. She was an early advocate of womens's educational rights including ladies such as Harriet Martineau among her correspondents. Her other associates reflect Edinburgh and London society in the mid nineteenth century and include Hans Christian Anderson, the artist Jane Loudon, the publisher T. Fields and his wife Annie Adams and many more authors, artists and photographers. She was also deeply interested in the supernatural, in particular spiritualism and the occult. She is mentioned as a prominent spiritualist in the 1871 Yearbook of Spiritualism. Mrs Crowe wrote a series of novels and articles relating to the supernatural and in 1848 published 'The night side of nature'. This book includes topics such as mesmerism, parapsycholgy, poltergeists and phrenology. Mrs Crowe described herself as the 'disciple' of George Combe, a prominent phrenologist. The popularity of the book is attested by the fact that it went through three editions in five years. In 1859 Mrs Crowe suffered some form of mental breakdown. This event was well documented by, among others, Charles Dickens. After her illness she wrote very little. Geoffrey Larken became interested in Mrs Crowe after seeing her name included in Thackeray's party given for Charlotte Bronte. Mrs Crowe was described as a 'ghost fancier'. Although he collected a great deal of material relating to Catherine Crowe, Larken was unable to find a publisher. The material consists of a large number of manuscript notes by Larken as well as photocopies of relevant articles. There are a number of scrapbooks which hold images that were, in some way, connected with Mrs Crowe. Larken also provides copies of letters written by, to or about her. The collection also includes a number of copies of Mrs Crowe's published books which are catalogued onto the University of Kent Library catalogue ( The collection was given to the University of Kent in two parts, the first after Geoffrey Larken died and the second after the death of his fellow researcher Mrs Wyn Bergess.
Access conditionsThis material is available for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU (
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