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Theodore Deodatus Nathaniel Besterman (1904–1976) was a psychical researcher, bibliographer and translator. He was the first editor of the Journal of Documentation.

Besterman was the son of a diamond merchant in Łódźmarker, Polandmarker, but probably grew up in Britain; he claimed to have been largely self-educated at the British Museummarker library. In 1925 he was elected chairman of the British Federation of Youth Movements, and between 1927 and 1935 he was the investigating officer for the Society for Psychical Research. His first publication was a 1924 bibliography of Annie Besant; many works of psychical research followed. He was a critical researcher; in 1930 his criticism of Modern Psychic Mysteries, Millesimo Castle, Italy, a book on an Italian medium by Gwendolyn Kelley Hack, caused Arthur Conan Doyle to resign from the society. Doyle stated "... [The work of the Society] is an evil influence—is anti-spiritualist."

In the 1930s Besterman lectured at the London School of Librarianship and edited and published many works works of, and about, bibliography.

Besterman served in the Royal Artillery and the Army Bureau of Current Affairs during the Second World War, and afterwards worked for UNESCOmarker, working on international approaches to bibliography.

In the 1950s Besterman began to concentrate on collecting, translating and publishing the writings of Voltaire, including much previously unpublished correspondence. This was to occupy him for the rest of his life. He lived at Voltaire's house in Geneva, where he founded the Institut et Musée Voltaire and published 107 volumes of Voltaire's letters and a series of books entitled "Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century".

He moved back to Britain in the late 1960s and died in Banburymarker in 1976.

Brief bibliography

  • The Divining Rod: An Experimental and Psychological Investigation, 1926
  • Mind of Annie Besant, 1927
  • Some Modern Mediums, 1930
  • Mrs. Annie Besant, a modern prophet, 1934
  • Men against women; a study of sexual relations, 1934
  • The Beginnings of Systematic Bibliography, 1935
  • A World Bibliography of Bibliographies, 1939
  • The love letters of Voltaire to his niece, 1958 (editor and translator)
  • Voltaire's Correspondence 1953–65, 107 vols
  • Philosophical dictionary, 1972 (translator)


References

  1. "For some time Voltaire had been writing affectionately to his elder niece, Madame Denis, and from his letters – tracked down, translated and published by the indefatigable Mr. Besterman ..."
  2. After reviewing the performance of the medium. Besterman concluded: "To put forward such a book as this as a serious contribution to psychical research . . . with such claims of infallibility ... is to bring our subject into contempt and disrepute."


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