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Frederic William Henry Myers (6 February 1843 – 17 January 1901) was a poet, classicist, philologist, and a founder of the Society for Psychical Research. Myers' work on psychical research and his ideas about a "subliminal self" were influential in his time, but have not been accepted by the scientific community.
Myers was the son of Revd Frederic Myers (1811–1851) and his second wife Susan Harriet Myers nee Marshall (1811–1896). He was a brother of poet Ernest Myers (1844–1921) and of Dr. Arthur Thomas Myers (1851–1894). His maternal grandfather was the wealthy industrialist John Marshall (1765–1845).
Myers was educated at Cheltenham College and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he received a B.A. in 1864, and university prizes, including the Bell, Craven, Camden and Chancellor's Medal, though he was forced to resign the Camden medal for 1863 after accusations of plagiarism. He was a Fellow of Trinity College from 1865 to 1874 and college lecturer in classics from 1865 to 1869. In 1872 be became an Inspector of schools.
In 1867, Myers published a long poem, St Paul, which became popular. The poem included the words of the hymn Hark what a sound, and too divine for hearing. This was followed in 1882 by The Renewal of Youth and Other Poems. He also wrote books of literary criticism, in particular Wordsworth (1881) and Essays, Classical and Modern (in two volumes, 1883), which included an essay on Virgil.
As a young man, Myers was involved in homosexual relationships with Arthur Sidgwick, the poet John Addington Symonds, and possibly Cyril Flower, 1st Baron Battersea. He later fell in love with Annie Eliza, the wife of his cousin Walter James Marshall. Myers' relationship with his cousin's wife has been questioned by different researchers to be sexual or Platonic. Annie committed suicide in September 1876 by drowning.
The British occult writer Richard Cavendish noted that "According to his own statement, he [Myers] had very strong sexual inclinations, which he indulged. These would seem to have been mainly homosexual in his youth, but in later life he was said to be wholly heterosexual." In 1880, Myers married Eveleen Tennant (1856–1937), daughter of Charles Tennant and Gertrude Tennant. They had two sons, the elder the novelist Leopold Hamilton Myers (1881–1944), and a daughter. English author Ronald Pearsall suggested that Myers had sexual interests in young lady mediums, writing "[I]t is certainly true that Myers's interest in young lady mediums was not solely due to their spiritualistic talents."
The researcher Trevor H. Hall argued that Myers had an affair with the medium Ada Goodrich Freer. However, Trevor Hamilton dismissed this and suggested that Freer was simply using her acquaintance with Myers to gain status in the psychical research movement. John Grant has suggested that Myers was a womanizer who was easily duped and "probably seduced" by Freer."
Biographer Bart Schultz has written that "Myers was suspected of all manner of sexual quirks and it was alleged that he looked upon psychical research as giving him opportunities for voyeurism." He also noted the odd behaviour of Myers, such as insisting to be with Edmund Gurney with his bride on their Honeymoon even against strong protest from the bride.
A relationship between eroticism and Myer's interest in psychical research was examined by Professor of Philosophy Jeffrey J. Kripal.
Biographer Trevor Hamilton has defended Myer's against the allegations of sexual misconduct.
My published books:
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