A historical study of Victorian spiritualism and the occult might well begin with Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-73). While he, of course, was preceded in the century by many students of the occult and esoteric, and while many of his famous contemporaries also attended séances or consulted mesmeric physicians, few were as informed or as influential as Bulwer-Lytton. As a dedicated, lifelong student of occult spiritualities, he

… had put himself through a wide-ranging course of experimentation in the practical investigation of the occult, leaving unexamined not even the most outré practices of the magicians, and simultaneously he had systematically educated himself in the latest works of physiologists, philosophers, and students of the supernatural as they appeared; … astrology, alchemy, mesmerism, clairvoyance, hypnotism, spiritualism, and magic: he investigated them all at first hand, and wrote about them all.10