He stated later that before the SPR was founded he already had three hundred and sixty seven séances recorded in his notebook.12 Though made temporarily despondent by these inconclusive results, he was encouraged by experiments in thought-transference conducted by the physicist William Barrett in Ireland.A seminal event was his passionate, though platonic, relationship with Annie Marshall, who was married to a cousin of his, and who committed suicide in 1876.
In July of that year, Myers left for a tour of the Norwegian fjords with his brother Arthur.
While he was away, Annie became increasingly guilt-stricken over her part in the confinement of her husband: she committed suicide on August 29, cutting her jugular with scissors and then throwing herself into the lake. He subsequently idealised her memory: Annie became for him a symbol of the type of woman who like Dante’s Beatrice, elevated her lover, by her beauty of body and soul, into the higher spiritual realms.
First, from childhood he had a horror of the idea of personal extinction.
Second, his childhood and adolescent religious faith could not withstand the impact of Darwinism and his own critical reading.
Myers possessed a strong social conscience in certain matters.
He was an early campaigner for votes for women and for their higher education.
Myers was an athletic man of drive and energy: he swam beneath the falls of Niagara and across the Hellespont, for example.
But he suffered from heavy colds, influenza and occasionally pneumonia through his life, and towards the end of it from Bright’s disease.
At the outset the group investigated mediums from the northern city of Newcastle (Miss Wood, Miss Fairlamb and the Petty family), also a number of more fashionable mediums in London - with disappointing results in both cases.
Eleanor Sidgwick reported that the ‘the indications of deception and fraud were palpable and sufficient’.10 Myers was briefly taken in by the fraudulent American medium Anna Eva Fay.11 While alive to the deceit around him, he nevertheless believed that some of the effects he had witnessed had been genuine and his commitment to the enquiry rarely wavered.