The Baron de Palm and Lola Montez


1847 portrait

I’m looking into background for Ghost Land combing through Emma Hardinge Britten’s Spiritualist histories in search of parallel anecdotes or citations.  One of the anomalies of the text is that the author, Emma, is an English commoner with no personal experience on the European continent, recounting the adventures of European occultist nobility.  Many characters will be mentioned as Emma’s connections to this world, one of whom is described in a fascinating passage from a 1921 memoir by journalist Melville Stone.  This brief and colorful biography of the Baron de Palm connects him with the court of Bavaria and the scandal of Lola Montez.  It concludes with his association with the Theosophical Society, and his memorable funeral in which both Emma Hardinge Britten and Helena Blavatsky played prominent roles.  Each was later accused of plagiarizing materials left by de Palm for Art Magic and Isis Unveiled respectively, in one case Emma being the accuser and Helena the accused.  Yet nothing of a literary legacy of de Palm survives to lends support to any such assertions.  Stone’s description of him makes it plausible that he could be the source of anecdotes for either author, whether or not his writings played any significant role in their books.