Shaw Desmond, Irish writer, lecturer, and one of the co-founders of the International Institute for Psychical Research, died Friday, December 23, 1960 in London. He was the author of more than sixty books--both novels and non-fiction--on a variety of subjects, including the paranormal, religion, spiritualism, politics, travel, and Irish history and nationalism. He was a firm believer in reincarnation and traveled worldwide as a lecturer on this and other topics. He was a staunch supporter of labor movements in Great Britain and Ireland and stood for the House of Commons as a Socialist Party candidate for the Battersea Constituency in 1910.
Mr. Desmond was born Charles Nathaniel Lowe Shaw on January 19, 1877 at Dungarvan, County Waterford, Ireland, to James and Emma White Shaw. His father was governor of the local prison. He was baptized in the Church of Ireland, but his father's family was Methodist, and as a boy he attended services at both churches. He seems to have been a rather rebellious youth and left school at the age of fifteen to go into business in London, at which he was successful, however, he later returned to Ireland to take up farming.
He returned to London and by 1911 had begun concentrating on journalism and literature as a career and adopted the nom de plume "Shaw Desmond." He subsequently wrote articles for many of Europes leading newspapers and journals. In that same year, he married the writer Karen Ewald (1885-1954), daughter of the Danish novelist and poet Carl Ewald (1856-1908), in London, and there and in Copenhagen, the couple resided and raised their two children--a son, who died young, and a daughter.
In 1934, Mr. Desmond co-founded, with Mrs. Dawson Scott--a pupil and associate of pioneer psychical researcher J. Hewat McKenzie--and J. Arthur Findlay, the International Institute for Pyschical Research. The Institute investigated and published papers concerning alleged psychic phenomena, including spirit manifestations, employing both photography and sound recording. Impartiality was ensured by the Institute's Council being made up of both believers and non-believers in spiritualism. In 1939, the Institute merged with the British College of Psychic Science to become the International Institute for Psychic Investigation, which was disbanded in 1947.
Mr Desmond was survived by his daughter, Deirdre. He was preceded in death by his son, Jan, who died at the age of ten, and his wife, who died in 1954. Among the many books he wrote are: The Soul of Denmark (1918); Labour: The Giant with the Feet of Clay (1921); Gods (1921); The Drama of Sinn Fein (1923); Tales of the Little Sisters of St. Francis (1929); Reincarnation for Everyman (1939) Spiritualism (1946); and Pilgrim to Paradise: An Autobiography (1951)
--Biographical sketch by William Desmond
Note: Mr. Desmond's son Jan was born 25 June 1913 in Dublin, Ireland and died 9 May 1924 in Twickenham, Middlesex, England. His daughter Deidre was born in Dublin on 10 June 1920 and died in Twickenham on 18 November 2008.
1. The American Review of Reviews and World's Work, Volume 65, January 1922, p. 555.
2. Gale Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology: "Shaw Desmond."
3.Gale Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology: "International Institute for Psychic Investigation."
4."Battersea (UK Parliament constituency)" Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battersea_UK_(Parliament_constituency)
5. The Weekly Review, vol. 2 Jan.-Jun., 1920, p.561.
Sponsored by Ancestry