Worth, Patience

Patience Worth was the spirit of a seventeenth-century Quaker from England who supposedly communicated with a relatively uneducated St. Louis, Missouri, housewife named Pearl Curran in the early twentieth century. Curran reported that she first began receiving messages from Worth via a Ouija board, but she later received these messages purely in her mind. Once this mental connection was established, according to Curran, Worth began dictating poems, plays, and entire novels, sometimes switching back and forth between works.

One of these works, Telka, was in an early medieval English dialect that most people believe Curran could not have known. Curran was open about the source of her writings, many of which were published to great profit and acclaim. Because of this notoriety, skeptics accused Curran of making up Patience Worth in order to gain fame and make money. In 1924, however, an investigator with the Society for Psychical Research, Walter F. Prince, concluded that the messages were coming from Curran’s subconscious, though he was unwilling to say whether the messages originated in her subconscious or were passing through it from some place of spirits.