The Strange Case of Hellish Nell

The Story of Helen Duncan and the Witch Trial of World War II


By Nina Shandler

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$11.99 CAD




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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 25, 2009. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

On March 23, 1944, as the Allied Forces were preparing for D-Day, Helen Duncan — “Nell” to her six children and four grandchildren and “Hellish Nell” to her detractors — stood in the dock of Britain’s highest criminal court accused of witchcraft! At the time of her arrest, Helen Duncan was Britain’s most controversial psychic, a celebrity medium with a notorious reputation. During her seances, she channeled spirits who spoke from the world beyond, and on a few occasions, her “spirit” seemed to know too much: Helen’s seances were accurately revealing top-secret British ship movements. Intelligence authorities wanted “Hellish Nell” silenced. Using diaries, personal papers, interviews, and declassified documents, Nina Shandler resurrects this strange episode and explores the unanswered questions surrounding the trial: Did “Hellish Nell” channel spirits of the dead who gave away wartime secrets? Was she a calculating charlatan or the innocent target of obsessive wartime secrecy? Why did the Director of Public Prosecutions try her as a witch, and not a spy? Sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, The Strange Case of Hellish Nell is a true crime tale laced with psychic phenomena and wartime intrigue.


On Sale
Mar 25, 2009
Page Count
312 pages
Da Capo Press

Nina Shandler

About the Author

Nina Shandler, Ed.D., a licensed psychologist and family therapist, is the author of Estrogen: The Natural Way and Ophelia’s Mom. She lives in Massachusetts.

Learn more about this author