Today, 17 July 2011, marks 30 years since the death, or as he would see it, promotion, of Maurice Barbanell; the founding editor of Psychic News.

Maurice BarbanellBarbanell’s assistant editor, Tony Ortzen (now edits Two Worlds), took the helm and in the next edition wrote, ‘I know of no-one during this century who has worked harder and accomplished more for the Spiritualist cause than Maurice Barbanell.’

At that time Psychic News boasted more than 100,000 readers and it must have been with sadness that Barbanell watched from beyond the veil as the last issue was published in 2010. The last edition edited by Barbanell carried on the front page a report of the lecture he gave to the Society for Psychical Research, entitled ‘Why I am a Spiritualist.’

Barbanell wasn’t always a Spiritualist. As a boy he worked for his father in the family barber shop. He was, like his father, an atheist, but after listening to a talk on Spiritualism he accepted a challenge to undertake a personal investigation of the subject. He was so convinced of the truth of Spiritualism that this led to his founding of Psychic News in 1932. The first edition was published on 28 May with the headline, ‘I challenge the Daily Mail’ accompanying an article by Hannen Swaffer. Described as the ‘Pope of Fleet Street’, Swaffer was a professional journalist, Socialist and solid Spiritualist, and it was he, together with Arthur Findlay and Barbanell, who brought the words of Spiritualism’s truth to the public with Psychic News.

In Tony Ortzen’s words, ‘ … one of the great lights in Spiritualism has gone out. Some day in the future it will light again.’

(The torch of Psychic News has been taken up, on line,  by the Spirit of PN )