James John Garth Wilkinson: A Memoir

A beautifully made little blue book filled with gloriously antique prose.  Written by Frederick H Evans this biography (or memoir) of James John Garth Wilkinson is filled with amazing snippets:

“The physical instinctively resents the spiritual, knowing it to be its enemy, potent for destruction; it cannot exist in the full presence of the other, and in the partial presence of it, the reason will most likely be unseated and mania ensue.  This makes the relative danger of all spiritistic seances, and the absolute danger of occult practices.”

“Knowledge is a purely relative term, it means much or little according to one’s training, but it never means all”.

Those two gems sprang from page 33.

Frederick H. Evans was a famous and well respected photographer whose images have an ethereal quality, such as this one of ‘a sea of steps’:

James John Garth Wilkinson wrote 25 books in his lifetime, many of which were edited editions of Swedenborg’s works.

He was a homeopathic doctor, fan of William Blake and devotee of Swedenborg.  His life was one of philosophical debate and exploration – he attracted the interest and friendship of Henry James, Sr. Above is a letter that Henry James, Sr’s son William James wrote to Wilkinson.  He was also admired by other philosophers of the day, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The Swedenborg archive contains some of his letters to Emerson, Dante Gabriel Rosetti and John Ruskin (highlights of the archives will be showcased in the upcoming Remnants exhibition).  There is also a portrait of him in the Swedenborg Society building and a commemorative bust (hidden in the bookshop – when you come will you be able to find it!?).

This book explores his ideas, writings and life in an evangelical, personal tone, it’s informative and interesting, and if you enjoy antiquated prose and have an interest in James John’s life and work this is the book for you!  It is available from our website or shop for £2.

For more information on James John Garth Wilkinson see Alex’s Librarian blog


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