Monday, February 20, 2006

Who was Brown Jenkin?

T. Peter Park, our Fortean and Lovecraft expert extraordinaire, has brought to my attention that the human-headed rat-like familiar spirit "Brown Jenkin" in HPL's (Feb. 1932) "Dreams in the Witch House," may have in fact been inspired by "Gef" or "Jef," the "Talking Mongoose," a once world-famous poltergeist case from the Isle of Man in the 1930's.

A neurotic teen-age girl and her possibly abusive father on an isolated Manx farm were plagued for some time by a poltergeist phenomenon including a voice claiming to be an entity or spirit named "Gef."

On a few occasions, they saw a mongoose- or weasel-like creature - which they assumed to be "Gef." The case was publicized at the time in both British and American newspapers, and American psychoanalyst-parapsychologist Nandor Fodor later devoted a chapter to it in one of his books on poltergeists.

The article pointed out similarities between "Gef" and HPL's "Brown Jenkin," and argued that HPL probably modeled the human-headed rat-bodied demon of his own story on the Manx poltergeist creature.

Here is more on the case at http://www.prairieghosts.com/harryprice.html:

“Harry Price’s strangest case was that of Gef, the Talking Mongoose of Cashen’s Gap… The case began in 1931 with a disembodied voice claiming to be that of a mongoose, a weasel-like creature. It began at an isolated place on the Isle of Man and according to the Irving family, who lived at Cashen’s Gap, this creature ate rabbits, spoke in various languages, imitated other animals and even recited nursery rhymes.”














Hmm. This pic. (see http://www.forteantimes.com/gallery/gef.shtml) allegedly shows Gef, the Talking Mongoose on the ridge of a sod hedge at Cashen's Gap, the Isle of Man.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Blurgh!!! I remember reading about Brown Jenkins for the first time and being HORRIFIED by him/it. I think, in fact, I had to put down the HPL anthology I was reading (Bloodcurdling Tales... my staple to this very day) and take a break.

Truly one of the most horrific HPL concoctions. I can't tell if it makes it more or less weird that it has a "true life" basis. Wouldn't I love to get my hands on a copy of those old newspaper stories....

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