Owen was an outstanding and virtually the best known spiritualist
of the early twentieth century.
He was born
on June 26th 1869 in Birmingham, England. Owen was educated at the
Midland Institute and Queen's College in Birmingham. In 1893 he
was ordained by the Bishop of Liverpool as curate in the parish
of Seaforth, in Liverpool. He became curate successively at Airfield
in 1895 and St Matthew's, Scotland Road, in 1897; both these churches
are also in Liverpool. In 1900 he became vicar of Orford, Warrington.
Here he created a new church, which was built in 1908, and worked
there until 1922.
The death of
his mother in 1909 awoke his psychic abilities and he began to receive
psychic communication in 1913. He received messages via a process
known as automatic writing, which can be defined as: writing performed
without conscious thought or deliberation, typically by means of
spontaneous free association or as a medium for spirits or psychic
Given the impact
on him of the information he received in this way, he converted
The messages he received were developed into books. During the 1920s
he authored a number of books about his new faith, his most notable
being the five-volume set, Life Beyond the Veil. The works were
prefaced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes),
who was a great supporter of Owen.
the foremost newspaper proprietor of the day, published summaries
of the works of Owen in his journal, The Weekly Dispatch. He said
that he was impressed by the great sincerity and unshakable conviction
of Owen and that he clearly possessed great spiritual gifts. Through
his work being published in the Dispatch, Owen became famous throughout
the United Kingdom.
work resulted in the Church authorities forcing him out of his parish.
This had a severe impact on Owen, including removing his primary
source of income. In 1922, aged 53, he began actively promoting
Spiritualism. He first went on a lecture tour in the United States.
In England, after his return, he gave more than 150 lectures.
became pastor of a Spiritualist congregation in London.
financial resources became severely depleted. To help him, Conan
Doyle organised a collection for him. This resulted in a trust fund
that provided financial support for Owen during the rest of his
In 1931 he fell
seriously ill, exacerbated by the strain of his work as a medium.
He died on March 9th of that year.
married Rose Pemberton on November, 21st 1892 at St James church
in Handsworth; they had four children.
After his death,
messages purported to come from the surviving spirit of Owen were
published in A Voice from Heaven by Frederick H. Haines. The clairvoyant
Haines claimed the book contained messages he had 'received automatically'
from Owen. A number of other individuals felt that they were in
contact with Owen following his death.
Holes aficionados continue to believe that Conan Doyle based Holmes
on George Vale Owen. There are certainly some similarities. However,
given the date of Conan Doyle's first meeting with him, GVO could
only have been an influence on the later Sherlock Holmes stories.
supporter of GVO was Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, the head
of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. In 1943, he corresponded
with GVO's widow and told her that he had been in contact with GVO
Angel Says Write
biography of GVO was written by his grandson, David Owen (see Links)
, and entitled "When The Angel Says Write". It was published
in 1986 by Headquarters Publishing. Below is a brief summary of
the initial chapters from this book.
- GVO's birth
on June 26th 1869
of his father, George - a chemist
- GVO's childhood
- GVO starts
work at a foundry in 1884
- Begins composing
- Writes and
helps perform plays
- Book of his
poems published in 1889
- GVO begins
his studies for the Church at Queen's College, Birmingham
- GVO meets
his future wife, Rosa while studying at Queen's
- Marries Rosa
curate of St Johns the Divine in Fairfield
- GVO has two
children in addition to two that die young
- Becomes assistant
curate of Christ Church at Padgate near Warrington in 1900
- Moves to
- Another son
born to GVO and Rose in 1902
- New church
In Orford is finished and GVO becomes the vicar. GVO had organised
the construction of the church
- Has letters
and articles published in newspapers
- GVO recounts
his experiences of communication from angels, including Zabdiel
in a letter to the Church Guardian
- In 1912 receives
a message via a planchette ( a present from his family) to "sit
in your vestry and wait for messages"
- GVO begins
to receive much material from the angels
1024 page manuscript
- World War
One intervenes in 1914
- GVO's articles
on spiritualism published in the Light magazine
- In July 1917,
messages received from Kathleen which resulted in GVO starting
again to receive messages in his vestry
- In March
1918, the messages abruptly ceased.
- The manuscript,
"The Script", now consists of some 370,00 words
- Harold Bailey,
a spiritualist, publishes some of the Script in The Undiscovered
Country. The book has a forward by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
- During the
1919 annual congress of the Church of England, violent attacks
were made on Spiritualism
- Conan Doyle
defends Spiritualism in a lecture at Leicester a few days after
the congress; he mentions GVO
- GVO is interviewed
by the Warrington Examiner
- This leads
to the Script being published in the national Weekly Dispatch,
owned by Lord Northcliffe. It was published in serial form starting
in February 1920
- GVO refuses
a payment of £1000 from Lord Northcliffe; the circulation
of the Weekly Dispatch rises by 400,000
- He becomes
famous, receiving hundreds of letters and speaking at many meetings
- First part
of the Script published in book form as Beyond The Veil
- In the winter
of 1920/21 GVO again started to record messages from the spirit
- Third volume
published in April 1921
- High demand
for GVO's books; printed in five languages and published in the
- Article in
the Church Times suggesting that GVO's works were "profane,disgusting
and a public scandal"
between GVO and Conan Doyle in 1921
- Conan Doyle
addresses the congregation at the Orford church
- Bishop of
Liverpool writes to GVO to express his disapproval
- GVO's elder
son, George Eustace Owen ordained (by the Bishop of Liverpool)
and becomes a deacon to West Derby
- Conan Doyle
undertakes lecture tour in the USA and covers the work of GVO.
- In August
1922, GVO resigns his post in Orford to concentrate on Spiritualism
(after 22 years at Orford)
- GVO and his
family move to North Finchly, London
- In January
1923 GVO embarks, with his daughter Rene, on the Cunard liner
"Antonia" for a lecture tour of the USA
- GVO's tour
takes in Chicago, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati,
Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Montclair, Stanford and New York
- In May 1923,
GVO returns to the UK
- GVO and his
family move to a house in Farnborough, Kent where GVO is to spend
the rest of his life.
- Trust fund
set up to help GVO financially
- GVO embarks
on a 12 month lecture tour of the UK
- He now has
a small office near Admiralty Arch in London to help with administration
- In December
1923, the fifth and final part of Beyond The Veil is published
- In December
1924 GVO has three books published: An account of his American
tour; Answers to questions that he has received entitled What
Happens After Death
- GVO's third
book published in that month was a novel: Paul and Albert. It
was considered to be made as a film.
- In December
1925, his book The Kingdom of God was published
- In April
1926, his book How Spirits Communicate was published. This covered
his personal psychic experiences as well as those of other mediums.
- In November
1926, GVO speaks at Spiritualist Remembrance meeting at the Royal
- Conan Doyle
dies on July 7th 1930 [GVO speaks at his memeorial service the
following week at the Royal Albert Hall in London.]
- Early in
1931 GVO is taken ill and dies on Sunday, March 8th 1931.
received from GVO (after his death)
- Lord Dowding
( Head of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain) takes
a great interest in GVO.
When David Owen
was doing research for his book, he advertised in a number of papers
to find anyone who had knowledge of GVOs life. He received
a reply from a lady in Brighton who said that she had come across
the name in rather unusual circumstances. He arranged to meet the
lady to get her story
She recounted that she had experienced a recurring dream where she
encountered an unrecognised church. Inside the door, in the porch,
she found a set of bells on the floor. After some years of this,
she was touring Australia with her husband and, in the outskirts
of Melbourne, she had a strong feeling that the church in her dreams
was close-by. Driving around, they eventually came across a church
that fitted what she had seen in her dream. And, amazingly, in the
porch, sitting on the floor, was a set of bells. They sought out
the minister of the church for an explanation which was actually
It seemed that a family had moved to the area from Lancashire and
were members of the church in Melbourne. They kept in close contact
with the church family that they had attended in UK. The Australian
church had only a simple bell. At some point, their old church in
UK decided to replace its bells and offered the old ones to the
church in Melbourne. When they arrived, it was found that they were
too heavy to be installed in the churchs wooden framework
so were placed on the floor in the porch.
When the lady returned to UK, she was intent on finding an explanation
for the dreams and contacted a spiritualist in Brighton. The spiritualist
could offer no real explanation apart from saying that there seemed
to be some connection with the names Owen or Vale and
did she know anyone of those names which the lady said she
did not. She had not thought much more about it until seeing Davids
On delving further, it became apparent that the church from which
the bells had been sent to Australia, was none other than GVOs
church in Orford, Lancs.
David said that he had an open mind of the matter. He said that
the lady seemed to be quite credible and he was sure he had not
been hoaxed. He was sure that the lady had not made any connection
between GVO and the church at Orford.