Sunday, 5 May 2013

Paranormal Investigators: Past & Present: Charles Fort

Fortean TimesCharles Fort

A native of Albany New York USA, Charles Fort will forever be remembered for his books on unusual events, sciences and paranormal, which inspired the word “Fortean” used to describe “paranormal phenomena” and for the inspiration of the magazine “Fortean Times”, which reports on strange and unusual occurrences in our world, a magazine that has been running for 40 years.

As a young man, Charles was a naturalist, enjoying pastimes like bird watching and mineral collecting, he was considered intelligent and curious but did not excel in school.
He was an avid reader, taking in as much knowledge of the world as he could.

When Charles was 18 he left New York to gain some worldly experience, and travelled throughout the USA, Scotland, England and South Africa, but fell ill in South Africa and had to return home. He was nursed by a lady who would become his future wife, Anna Filing.
The Forts weren't terribly well off, and Charles writing career did not bring in great amounts of money, but somehow the two found themselves in England, where they lived for two years, whilst Charles researched for his upcoming book.
Charles and Anna were handed a lucky break in 1916, through the unfortunate loss of his brother Clarence. Charles and his other brother Raymond, both inherited a small amount of money, enough for Charles to give up his day job and focus entirely on his writing, of which he loved so much.
Charles had written a number of novels over the years, and successfully published one in 1909, but he had little to no success with its sales, now getting other manuscripts published, this was about to change though.
In 1919, a book Charles had been working on, titled “ The Book of the Damned” had made it to the printing press, through the help of a close friend, Mr Dreiser.
The book was a collection of data and narratives about phenomena that science could not categorise, rejected or ignored. It was through his extensive work as a journalist and his wit, as well as contrary nature, that Charles wrote the narrative in his book, that would later extend into other writings. His style was unpretentious and at odds with the media of the day, who tended to over rationalise scientific studies and results.
Charles Fort's books almost always received positive reviews and went on to reprints, and even a special edition omnibus in 1941.
Charles work earned him a great many followers amongst the public, who lapped up all his unusual, weird and odd stories, he received a cult-like status in his lifetime, and would later influence people to form Fortean societies and investigation teams.

Charles collapsed on May 3rd 1932, he had been suffering from ill health for some time, he was rushed to the Royal Hospital in The Bronx, and would later pass away from symptoms associated with Leukaemia
Charles Fort was buried in the Fort family plot in Albany New York, his legacy of 6000 plus notes on unusual sciences and events was donated to the New York Public Library

Books written by Fort

The Outcast Manufacturers (1906, novel)
The Book of the Damned (1919, nonfiction)
The New Lands (1923, nonfiction)
Lo! (1931, nonfiction)
Wild Talents (1932, nonfiction, posthumous)

© 2013 Allen Tiller

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