To follow up on my last post featuring spooky facts from history, here are five more to put chills up your spine…
- In 1898, Futility by Morgan Robertson was published. Part of the plot involves a ship called Titan which sinks in April after hitting an iceberg whilst on a voyage through the Atlantic. Majority of the passengers on board die due to the lack of lifeboats. Fourteen years later, in the April of 1912, the real-life Titanic struck an iceberg whilst crossing the Atlantic and there was a great loss of life due to an insufficient number of lifeboats. The uncanny similarities between fiction and fact have led to conspiracy theories about the real event and claims that Robertson might have even been psychic, which he denied.
- Starting about a century after the death of Edgar Allan Poe, a mysterious unidentified figure, known as the “Poe Toaster”, would visit Poe’s grave in the yearly hours of his birthday each year to leave three roses and a bottle of cognac by the headstone. It became an annual event in Baltimore for people to gather at night to catch a glimpse of the Poe Toaster making his annual tribute. In 1999, the tradition was passed on, likely to the original Toaster’s son, but the Toaster stopped making his graveside visits in 2009. The Maryland Historical Society hosted a competition in 2015 to chose a new Poe Toaster to reinstate the yearly honour to one of literature’s best-loved Gothic writers.
- In the very first iteration of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at California’s Disneyland park, real skeletons, provided by UCLA, were used as part of the ride’s set. Over time, as fake skeletons got more realistic, these were replaced. However, there is a rumour that one real skull still remains as part of the ride to this day.
- Scottish psychic Helen Duncan was the last person to be imprisoned under the 1735 Witchcraft Act in Britain. During World War Two, Duncan led seances where she would produce a substance that she called ectoplasm from her mouth. She alleged that she had spoken with the dead, including a sailor from the HMS Barham. The ship had been sunk by German forces but this was not public information at the time. Duncan was then arrested after a police raid during one of her seances in 1944. Some attest that the authorities were concerned about her using her psychic abilities to discover the forthcoming D-Day plans which was highly confidential and secret intel. Duncan was released after a nine-month stint in prison and the Witchcraft Act was repealed in 1951.
- It’s considered unlucky to say “Macbeth” and quote from the witches’ passages in a theatre though no one knows exactly why. One of the most common theories is that Shakespeare used real witches’ spells when writing the play. Another possibility comes from the various deaths and unfortunate mishaps, both on-and-off stage, associated with the play’s long performance history. The first unlucky incident goes all the way back to the play’s first ever performance. After the actor playing Lady Macbeth died suddenly, Shakespeare himself allegedly stepped in to play the role.
Thanks for reading and I hope you found these facts interesting. Bye for now!