|The Rose Files
True Scary Stories from Life
| The Ghost Writer:
The Strange Tale of Patience Worth!
~ Rose Titus ~
Every once in a while, we hear about people playing with a Ouija board and they get spooky or
mysterious answers to silly questions, like, will I ever win the lottery? Etc.
But what if something truly remarkable happened and you made contact with a ghost who decided to
dictate great works of literature? Well supposedly, this is just what happened to one housewife named
Pearl Curran while playing with a Ouija board. Like an email from the Other Side – she suddenly got in
touch with a ghost who said her name was Patience Worth, and Patience Worth had a lot to say!
It was 1913 (well yeah, a very long time ago!) and Mrs. Curran was with some friends one evening
playing with n Ouija board. Mrs. Curran did not believe in such nonsense and was getting quite bored.
One of the people in the room, Mrs. Curran’s mother, Mary Pollard, sat nearby the Ouija board with a
pencil and paper ready to write down anything important that came from “the Beyond.” Their friend Emily
Hutchings insisted they continue to play with it. Suddenly the pointer began to move to the letters on the
board and form words: “Many moons ago I lived. Again I come – Patience Worth my name.”
The spirit continued on, “Wait, I would speak with thee. If thou shalt live, then so shall I. I make my
bread by thy hearth. Good friends, let us be merrie (sic). The time for work is past. Let the tabby drowse
and blink her wisdom to the fire log.” Like, wow, that is heavy stuff to come from a Ouija board, and that
was only the beginning of one of history’s greatest paranormal mysteries.
And for the next twenty-five years, this spiritual entity would dictate poetry and works of literature,
including seven books, short stories, plays, and give out bits of spiritual wisdom and opinions on
occasion. One book reviewer stated that she produced “literature of extraordinary beauty and
significance”. A professor of English would state that her poetry was better than even Shakespeare or
Pretty good for someone who had already been dead for a couple of hundred years.
Patience Worth claimed to have been born in 1649 “across the sea.” She then claimed she arrived in
America, where she was killed by Indians. Her language was archaic Old English, a type of which is
difficult for modern people to understand. She would use “thee” instead of you, and when referring to
people collectively in the room, she would say, “thee, and thee, and thee!” When she grew frustrated with
people in her audience for asking questions that annoyed her, she would say they should be put in the
stocks, “The stock for him!”
Many people wondered if Mrs. Curran herself was behind it all, manipulating the pointer with her
hands, but Mrs. Curran was not that well educated, and she had no knowledge of the archaic type of
speech used by the ghost Patience Worth. The spirit would use words so out of date that modern people
often had no idea what the heck she was trying to say. For example she once used the term “cockshut.”
(No, dear reader. That word does not mean anything “like that.” Get your mind out of the gutter!) After
some research, it was discovered that this rarely used ancient word “cockshut” refers to a net used in
olden days to catch wild birds with, and the net was put out late in the day or at dusk, so the term
“cockshut” meant “early evening” – so, in other words, “cockshut time.”
Other evidence that it was not Mrs. Curran doing the dictating is the fact that Patience Worth made a
few predictions. Before Christmas Mrs. Hutchings asked what Mrs. Curran would give her for a gift. The
spirit replied, “Fifteen pieces and one cracked.” In fact Mrs. Curran had ordered a set of fifteen jars and
the package arrived the next day, and one of them arrived cracked. No one could have known that one of
the jars in the package would arrive broken.
People would come to the home of the Currans to ask the spirit of Patience Worth questions, or to
give opinions. People would ask about religion, love, politics, life and death. One female guest asked,
“How can we see and know God?” “Ope up thy heart, dame, and look unto the babe’s palm, yea and unto
the deep o’ the sky’s arch. Yea, and feel athin thy heart the throb that telleth thee He hath smote thy lute.”
She once even had the audience of a writers’ group, the Papyrus Club, as she would address them,
“Good dames and sirrahs … then come thou and sit ‘bout the board and thine ears shall hark unto the
words o’ me and thou shalt see the cloth the hands o’ the loves o’ me did fashion out for me …” She oft
The Currans never became wealthy due to Mrs. Curran’s channeling the spirit of Patience Worth, and
although Mrs. Curran and her friendly ghost developed a following and reports of the spirit’s sayings were
often in magazines or even written up in newspapers, Mrs. Curran was sometimes ridiculed or accused of
While working at the board, Mrs. Curran sometimes saw visions from the earthly life of the ghost,
seeing her riding a horse for example, or seeing her running through a forest and then fall to the ground
with an arrow in her chest, and that is how she died, from an attack by Indians.
The communications between Pearl Curran and Patience Worth went on for two and a half decades.
During that time, the spirit advised the Currans to adopt a baby girl, which they did. Patience often
expressed love for the baby and through the Ouija board wrote poetry about the baby.
This all ended in 1937. Pearl Curran told a friend, “Patience has just shown me the end of the road.”
Almost immediately after, she caught a cold, and then pneumonia set in. She passed away soon after.
Her friends believed that she had gone on to the Other Side and now she was with her longtime friend, the
ghost of Patience Worth. At the funeral, one of Patience Worth’s poems was read, “What a paltry pence is
death to buy eternity; what a light price to pay for an everlasting abiding peace.”
While doing this research, I began to wonder if this tale was perhaps the inspiration behind the book
(and later movie, and then TV series) The Ghost and Mrs. Muir…? For that is exactly what happens in the
book, Mrs. Muir writes a novel about an adventurous sea captain, dictated to her by the ghost of the sea
Was Pearl Curran alone the only person who received creativity through a spirit? Perhaps not. During
the April 14, 1970 episode of the popular and long running television news program 60 Minutes, there was
a feature about a medium who claimed to have composed music given to her by the ghosts of Liszt,
Chopin, Brahms, and others…This medium did not have musical training, like Mrs. Curran had no
knowledge of what we today call “old English.”
Why do the spirits continue to send us literature and music from the Beyond? Is it perhaps to merely
let us down here on Earth know that they are There, and that they live on in another form somehow? That
art and life and beauty do continue long after the body is dust? Patience herself once said, “Dust rests
beneath, and webs lie caught among the briars. A single jewel gleams as a mirrored vision of rising
Venus in a mountain lake.”
If you want to read more about this ghostly author look for these sources of information:
1. Litvag, Irving, Singer in the Shadows, MacMillan, 1972 (a good book, contains everything you
would want to know about this case.)
2. Prince, Walter Franklin, The Case of Patience Worth, University Books, 1964.
3. Diliberto, Gioia, “Patience Worth: Author From the Great Beyond,” Smithsonian Magazine,
September 2011 (with a bit of skepticism).
4. Or check out the website dedicated to Patience Worth: Patienceworth. org.