CONNECTING with the dead will be a focus for celebrations marking the birth of renowned author Henry Handel Richardson 149 years ago on Thursday night.
The novellist will be commemorated at her Chiltern childhood home Lake View with a picnic tea from 6pm staged by the Henry Handel Richardson Society.
The centrepiece will be a speech by society member Barbara Finlayson examining Richardson’s spiritualism.
The author of The Getting of Wisdom, who resided in Europe throughout her adulthood, kept her beliefs hidden in her lifetime which ended in 1946.
“She didn’t proclaim she was a spiritualist, she kept it a secret,” Dr Finlayson said.
“At the time people thought that people who did spiritualism were mad and she also wanted the private life and being a well-known authoress she didn’t want people to know about it.”
However, Dr Finlayson, who undertook a PhD on Richardson’s spiritualism, said the writer’s father had similar beliefs.
She said it was not until 1996, when letters penned by Richardson were publicised, that the fascination became clear.
A ouija board that Richardson used to bond with her late husband John George Robertson was sent from her home in England and is on display at Lake View.
Meanwhile, society president Graeme Charles said a significant celebration was planned for next year’s 150th anniversary with Richardson’s great nephew and great niece invited to attend.