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The very strange case of Enoch Soames, time travel, Teller, my friend's dad, and his unique photo.

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posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 10:47 AM
Hi ATS-ers.
Who doesn't love a great time travel story? And this is a corker!
There's a couple of strands to this so please bear with me as I try and link the events.
Whilst all of this information is online I don't believe anyone on ATS has mentioned this incident.
So here we go.

The story really starts in 1916 with the publication of a short story by British writer Max Beerbohm entitled 'Enoch Soames: A Memory of the Eighteen-Nineties', in which Beerbohm narrates an incident he says took place in 1897 that involves time travel and pacts with the devil.


In the book he says that he, Beerbohm, met a struggling poet called Enoch Soames who makes a pact with the devil to travel 100 years into the future to spend the afternoon in the British Museum Reading Room and discover what posterity would say about him and his work. The price of this offer... eternity in Hell.

"At ten past two on June 3, 1897, Enoch Soames vanished into the future."

Soames returns some hours later, looking grim, and tells Beerbohm that the only mention about him was a short story by Beerbohm himself "in which he portrayed an imaginary character called Enoch Soames, a third-rate poet who believes himself a great genius and makes a bargain with the Devil in order to know what posterity thinks of him!"
The Devil arrives to takes Soames away and the story ends with Beerbohm writing:

You realise that the reading-room into which Soames was projected by the Devil was in all respects precisely as it will be on the afternoon of June 3, 1997. You realise, therefore, that on that afternoon, when it comes round, there the self-same crowd will be, and there Soames too will be, punctually.... The fact that people are going to stare at him, and follow him around, and seem afraid of him, can be explained only on the hypothesis that they will somehow have been prepared for his ghostly visitation....

It sounds like a cracking short story. I haven't read it but someone who did, and on whom it had a long and lasting effect, was Teller, the silent half of the magic and illusions double-act Penn and Teller.

Teller wrote a wonderful article in 1997 about his relationship with the story, which I urge you to read.


He brilliantly sums up the end of the story and the start of the mystery.

In other words, anyone in the Round Reading Room of the British Museum at ten past two on June 3, 1997, would be able to verify Beerbohm's memoir, and see an authentic, guaranteed, proven ghost.

He says his English teacher finishes reading the story and says to Teller, "I wonder how many Enoch Soameses will show up?"

At the time, I thought he was merely musing. Later I understood. He was giving me a homework assignment.

So Teller is obsessed and fascinated with the story and he travels to the Reading Room on June 3rd 1997, the date Enoch Soames is supposed to arrive from the past.

And someone did indeed arrive! A person dressed in a cape matching Soames description arrived on cue and busied himself looking through books and catalogues!

I'll let you read Teller's brilliant article as he describes it way better than I can!

Chris Jones, writing in Esquire covers the incident and muses on the possibility that Teller staged the whole event, something that Teller has never admitted. But something he would be easily capable of doing.


Even when Teller later wrote about that magical afternoon for The Atlantic, he didn't confess his role. He never has. "Taking credit for it that day would be a terrible thing — a terrible, terrible thing," Teller says. "That's answering the question that you must not answer."

As Teller doesn't admit to staging the arrival of 'Enoch Soames' in 1997 the incident remains a true time travel mystery. And if it was an elaborate staged event by Teller then what a genius to work this out over so many years and go through with it not knowing if anyone else would actually be there... great! I love it either way.
I am sure we'll all have our personal takes on the story.

And so now you are wondering how my friend's dad comes into the tale. It was a Facebook posting by my friend a few weeks ago of a photo his dad had taken back in 1997 when he worked in the British Museum Reading Room!

My friend was unaware of the story, or the photograph until his dad told him. And that is how I heard of the story.
My friends dad posted his photo on Flickr with this explanation.

This strange incident involving the man in the cloak in this photograph occurred while I was working in the old British Museum Reading Room in June 1997. Photography was not allowed and this may be the only photographic record.

I'll post his link in a moment but it's interesting to note that he seems to be mentioned by Teller himself twice in his article about the days events.

An angular man, about fifty, casually holding a tiny camera.

and then also

The angular man with the camera leans forward and takes a snapshot. Soames does not flinch.

And so here, I do believe, is possibly the only photo taken of 'Enoch Soames' and the only photographic record of that strange day in 1997.


I like to think that this photo is a great compliment to Teller's story and hope he gets to see it one day! I wonder if he reads ATS?

I love a good time travel story and this has so many great elements and so I for one don't mind if it ever turns out to be a wonderful hoax by Teller or anyone else. It's magical either way. Real or unreal.

I hope you enjoyed reading.

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 11:13 AM
reply to post by manmental

that was an awesome read.. I have personally never heard of it myself...but fascinating none the less and if it were true.. too bad he sold his soul for so little! an hour in a reading room at the British museum!! I could think of much better things to sell my soul for... haha

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 11:16 AM
well there ya go...another ATS mystery......with pic.....
must have happened alright....but what exactly DID happen?
Its just so typical WE DONT SEE THE GUYS FACE THOUGH.....!

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 11:17 AM

Originally posted by gnosticagnostic
reply to post by manmental

that was an awesome read.. I have personally never heard of it myself...but fascinating none the less and if it were true.. too bad he sold his soul for so little! an hour in a reading room at the British museum!! I could think of much better things to sell my soul for... haha

LOL...True. I sold my soul to an EX for 20 years. All it took was a bunch of broken promises....from the Devil himself.

OT...this is a fascinating story. I love time traveler stories that have some meat on the bones.


edit on 23-12-2012 by Destinyone because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 11:23 AM
reply to post by Destinyone

lol..been there done that.. but he took the darn t-shirt! Considering that it is Teller who is behind this, I'm going to go with an awesome story.
i wonder how many ppl at the museum that day had any idea what was even going on.

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 11:26 AM
reply to post by manmental

Great great story S&F I daresay a hoax though the ammount of bile bashing Penn and Teller did would indicate to me that they have no time for imaginary beings like the devil.

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 11:31 AM
Brought the picture with me:

Interesting story, always love a good time travel event.

Got lost at the devil soul selling stuff, sure his name wasn't "Johnny"?

But since there's a relationship with Penn and Teller, I'll tend to believe it was a nicely staged event. Very coincidental, and well done.

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 11:33 AM
Great read S&F

We got any experts on late 19th C clothing on this site?

Shame he didnt photgraph his face

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 11:47 AM
reply to post by manmental

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand YES!

Thank you

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 11:50 AM
Fun story.
and that's most likely all it is.

In 1997, with a hundred years for this story to fester and grow more and more popular, It is amazing how there was only ONE person on the planet interested on showing up that day and that ONE person didn't have the wherewithall to RECORD the event ON FILM using a VIDOE CAMERA!!!!!
and a microphone, and SIT DOWN and INTERVIEW the guy!!! for THE WORLD to see.

I love a good piece of fiction though.
My favorite is a book by George Orwell called "1984".

ooooh wait....

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 12:13 PM
Absolutely fascinating tale, truly enlightening.

I'll be fascinated to see the response it generates.

So good I've given it a flag!

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 12:36 PM
Time travel stories are always interesting to read,when the name teller came up have to admit i thought staged event straight away.
i'd love it to be a genuine time travel story but with teller involved i'm not so sure.

still a good story though

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 12:45 PM
Penn absolutely detests fraudsters and hoaxers. Yes he is a magician, but never pretends it isnt slight of hand. Maybe think twice that he would "hoax" this. I have heard a lot of Penn interviews on O and A and never heard him talk about this. Interesting.

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 12:59 PM
reply to post by sputniksteve

well maybe because it's Teller's story and not Penn's( the little one that doesn't talk)

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 01:04 PM
reply to post by gnosticagnostic

You are right, I mistook who I was talking about. In any case what I typed is true of Penn I cannot comment on Teller.

Either way it is a fascinating tale. I can't wait to read more about it.

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 01:15 PM
On the other hand,......

if you want to learn about TRUE time travel, read Patrice Chaplin's books "City of Secrets" and "The Portal". The daughter-in-law of Charlie Chaplin, Patrice Chaplin is an internationally acclaimed writer and playright with a book made into a Hollywood film ("Siesta"). Her autobiographical revelation about the true secret of Rennes-le-Chateau and her account of her travel back in time has been the hottest paranormal story in recent years. So much so that it has been ignored completely by a mainstream press made too cynical by the success of "The da Vinci Code" to know how to handle her extraordinary claims.

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 01:17 PM

Originally posted by manmental
I like to think that this photo is a great compliment to Teller's story and hope he gets to see it one day! I wonder if he reads ATS?

from the comments: (2 months ago)

Teller has just tweeted me that he has seen this photo on Flickr. He says "What a wonderful day that was".

Nice story!

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 01:24 PM
Hey very cool story.

So if this is true, then wouldn't this disprove skewed timelines and instead prove paradoxical timelines? In other words, every action does not skew off our current timeline but shows it is indeed linear?


posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 01:36 PM
Eben if it was Teller who staged the event, it was a touching tribute to the story and to a sad individual who wanted so badly to know what people would think a hundred years on that he sacrificed eternity to do so. That's quite tragic in my eyes.

posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 01:52 PM
This is a new one on me.

Great story, thanks for bring it to our
attention OP.

Not sure what to think, but it is interesting,
and if true is a mind blower, although with
those two involved, being 'true' is within
the observer.

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