Pearl was fascinated with the messages that they were
receiving and began devoting more and more time to the Ouija board.
Eventually though, the messages began coming so fast that no one could
write them down and Pearl suddenly realized that she didnít need the board
anymore. The sentences were forming in her mind at the same time they were
being spelled out on the board. She began to "dictate" the replies and
messages from Patience to anyone who would write them. She would first
employ a secretary, but later Pearl would record the words herself, using
first a pencil and then a typewriter.
For the next 25 years, Patience Worth dictated a total
of about 400,000 words. Her works were vast and consisted of not only her
personal messages, but creative writings as well. She passed along nearly
5,000 poems, a play, many short works and several novels that were
published to critical acclaim.
People came from all over and the Curranís, always
gracious and unpretentious, welcomed visitors who wanted to witness the
automatic writings sessions where Pearl received information from Patience
Worth. Authorities in the field of psychic investigation came, as well as
people from all over the country who had begun to read and admire the
writings attributed to Patience. The Curranís never charged any admission
to the house and all of the writing sessions were conducted with openness
and candor. There were no trappings of Spiritualism here with darkened
rooms and candles. Pearl would usually just sit in a brightly lit room
with her notebook or typewriter and when the messages began to come to
her, she would begin to write. The stories were filled with ancient
languages, words and objects that had not been in use for hundreds of
years and more. Things that there is no way that Pearl could have known
Pearl explained that as the words flowed into her head,
she would feel a pressure and then scenes and images would appear to her.
She would see the details of each scene. If two characters were talking
along a road, she would see the roadway, the grass on either side of it
and perhaps the landscape in the distance. If they spoke a foreign
language, she would hear them speaking but above them, she would hear the
voice of Patience as she interpreted the speech and indicated what part of
the dialogue she wanted in the story. She would sometimes even see herself
in the scenes, standing as an onlooker or moving between the characters.
The experience was so sharp and so vivid that she became familiar with
things that she could have never known about living in St. Louis. These
items included lamps, jugs and cooking utensils used long ago in distant
countries, types of clothing and jewelry word by people in other times and
the sounds and smells of places that she had never even heard of before.
On once occasion, Pearl was shown a small yellow bird
sitting on a hedge. Patience wished to include it in a poem, but Pearl had
no idea what type of bird it was. Finally, Patience became frustrated and
said, "He who knoweth the hedgerows knoweth the yellow-hammer." Pearl and
her husband later consulted an old encyclopedia and saw that the
yellow-hammer in her vision was not a type seen in America, but only in
In spite of the visions and odd experiences though,
Pearl never went into a trance during the writing sessions, as a
Spiritualist medium would have done. She understood the writing as it came
and yet while calling out the words to the stenographer, she would smoke
cigarettes, drink coffee and eat. She seemed always to be aware of her
surroundings, no matter what else might be going on with her.
As time passed, Patience became tolerant but
condescending of her hostís abilities. Patience often scorned Pearl, but
never failed to show her kindness. She simply seemed to think that her
human counterpart was slightly stupid and that only by perseverance was
she able to make herself known, especially when Pearl failed to grasp the
spellings and meanings of certain words. But they plodded on together,
continuing to amass a great body of work until about 1922.
In this year, the connection between the two of them
began to deteriorate, possibly due to changes in Pearlís life and the fact
that she had become pregnant for the first time at age 39. After her
husband and her mother both died, the contact between Patience and Pearl
became less and less often and eventually it died away.
By this time too, public interest in the mystery had
faded, especially as no solution had ever been posed as to how the St.
Louis housewife was accomplishing such remarkable feats. After the
publication of several books and hundreds of poems, interest in Patience
Worth vanished and cynicism replaced it. Debunkers accused Pearl of hiding
her literary talent in order to exploit it in such a bizarre way and
become famous. However, exhaustive studies have shown this to be highly
unlikely, if not impossible. Scholars have analyzed Patienceís works and
have found them to accurate in historical detail and written in such a way
that only someone with an intimate knowledge of the time could have
Pearl Curran died in California on December 4, 1937.
The St. Louis Globe-Democrat headlined her obituary with the words:
"Patience Worth is Dead." And whatever the secret of the mysterious "ghost
writer", it went to the grave with her.
So, what really happened in this case and why does it
remain today as one of our great unsolved mysteries? Was there actually an
entity speaking to Pearl from beyond the grave? Or could the writings have
simply come from her unconscious mind?
No verification was ever made that Patience Worth
actually lived in the 1600s and yet experts who studied Pearl Curran
doubted that she could have produced the works attributed to the ghost on
her own. She was a woman of limited education with no knowledge of the
language used or the history and subject matter that was written of by the
alleged Patience Worth. Pearl simply could not have created the works of
literary quality that have become known as the works of her spiritual
So, what was it? What did happen here? Was it a true
case of afterlife communication or the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on
both the literary and paranormal communities? Itís unlikely that we will
ever know for sure, but in the absence of any other explanation, this one
will have to be filed under "unexplained".