The Case of Bridey Murphy:

Articles from Life Magazine


Life magazine first took notice of Bridey Murphy in its March 19, 1956 issue, with an article by Herbert Brean entitled "Bridey Murphy Puts Nation Into a Hypnotizzy" that told how publication of Bernstein's book had begun a nationwide craze for "parlor hypnosis" and "Bridey gags".  It also discussed expert professional opinion about the case, as reflected in Kline's Scientific Report on the Search for Bridey Murphy.  Perhaps most important, it summarized the findings of a group of investigative reporters -- Bill Barker, of the Denver Post; Ernie Hill of the Chicago Daily News; and Ruth Lynam of Life -- who attempted to confirm various aspects of the Bridey story in London.  For example, they found no birth or death record for a Bridey Murphy in either Cork (where she said she was born) or Belfast (where she said she had died). 

Link to the articles in the March 19, 1956 issue.


In its June 25, 1956 issue, Life magazine summarized the Chicago American series in an unsigned article (p. 109) labeled "Sequel", accompanied by photographs of Virginia Tighe and the real Bridie Murphy Corkell.  Here is a transcript of the article:

Bridie Search Ends at Last

Last week the Search for Bridey Murphy was ended by a series of Chicago American articles.  It had begun in a best-seller written by Morey Bernstein, who had hypnotized "Ruth Simmons," a Colorado housewife (real name: Virginia Tighe), and drawn from her seeming clues to a 19th Century Ireland existence.  Bernstein saw this as evidence of reincarnation.

But in Chicago, Rev. Wally White, pastor of a church young Virginia Tighe once attended, began checking Bridey's eerie "memories."  With reporters' help he wrote his articles.

They revealed that as a child Virginia lived across the street from Bridie (not Bridey) Murphy Corkell.  In his book Bernstein was awestruck by "Ruth Simmons'" brogue under hypnosis; Mr. White found young Virginia had done Irish recitations.  In the book, Bridey danced a surprisingly expert Irish jig, and Virginia had jigged for pennies in Chicago streets.  In the book, Bridey told a vivid tale of scratching paint off her childhood bed; Virginia did at 7 and was tanned for it.  In the book Bridey married a Sean (Irish for John) McCarthy; teen-aged Virginia was in love with Bridie Murphy Corkell's son, John.  Detail after detail in Virginia's life checked with the book's trace details, buttressing Life's statement (March 19) that "If Ruth Simmons could completely reveal her early life" this "could end the search for Bridey Murphy abruptly."

Link to photocopy of the Life article.


Materials assembled by Prof. Malcolm Macmillan

School of Behavioural Sciences, University of Melbourne

School of Psychology, Deakin University