ForteanaCharles Fort was one of the first serious researchers into what we call "anomolous phenomena" - anything from rains of frogs to UFOs, from cryptozology to the power of the mind. These phenomena which are on the fringes of or outside of conventional science are known collectively as Forteana.
Fort was born in Albany, NY in 1874. His childhood was reportedly not a happy one and caused him to grow up as an anti-authoritarian free thinker who rebelled against conventional wisdom. He left home at the age of 18 and in 1896 he married Anna Filing.
Charles and Anna were poor. Fort took odd jobs and did some journalism, he also sold a few short stories. He also tried novel writing, however he couldn't find an interested publisher and burnt the manuscripts.
The DamnedFort had spent much time in libraries reading and researching strange phenomena. It's probable that these notes were originally intended as source material and inspiration for his fictional writing. However his friend Theodore Dreiser, a magazine editor, encouraged him to collect them together in a non-fictional work. The result was the classic work "The Book of The Damned" which was published in 1919.
Fort referred to pheomena that didn't fit as "damned". By this he meant that the observations are often simply "damned" by conventional science and ignored. Hence the title "The Book of the Damned". This together with three other books of his (Lo!, Wild Talents and New Lands) have been published together as The Complete Books of Charles Fort.
In 1921 Charles and Anna moved to London where Charles worked in the British Museum Library. Charles Fort died in 1932, aged 58.
The word "Fortean" is now used for all the "damned" phenomena which Fort studied and investigated. It's important to remember that Fort always kept an open mind. He thought such things were interesting and worthy of investigation, but didn't like to "believe" in any of them. He said:
"I believe nothing of my own that I have ever written"All these Fortean phenomena might be the paranormal - or they might be something else. Either way they are interesting and potentially useful. The important thing is to investigate the possibilities rather than prejudge and reject things out of hand simply because they don't fit in with the "normal" view of the world.
I like to think he'd have appreciated this site.