Harry Stump, who died in 1998 at age 75, was a well-known sculptor who was written about in Down East magazine and had a considerable following. But that was just part of his story.

Lloyd Ferriss, a retired writer for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and freelance writer who lives in Richmond, covers Stump’s actions as a resistance fighter in World War II and his participation in the Round Table Foundation in Glen Cove in “Harry Stump: Maine’s Psychic Sculptor.”

The seed for the book was planted when Ferriss agreed to do a talk in Norlands on the Round Table Foundation, a group that conducted ESP research during the 1950s, and contacted Stump’s widow, Rita Harper Stump. She gave him access to Harry’s unpublished autobiography, and the two of them worked for five years to bring out the book.

The paperback, published by Maine Authors Publishing in Rockland, costs $14.95, and is available at local bookstores, maineauthorspublishing.com, from the author and at Amazon and other online book sites. 

Q: Had you been interested in psychic and telepathic phenomena before you were invited to give the Norlands talk on “Mysteries of Maine?”

A: Yes. My wife, Jane, and I share a kind of telepathy. Our minds sort of lock into the same subject simultaneously. For instance, we might be talking about going shopping or going to the beach. And there will be a pause in the conversation, and Jane might say something like, “I’ve been thinking about that trip we took to Montana,” and before she said that, I had been thinking about that same trip we had not discussed for five years. And sometimes, I will pick up something Jane is thinking. We don’t make a big deal about it. It is just something that happens. 

Q: You mention that Harry Stump was dyslexic and hated writing. How much editing did you have to do on his memoirs to make them readable?

A: It took quite a bit of editing in this way: He used a lot of run-on sentences, and I needed to shorten them. And there were apparent gaps in what he was writing, and I used italics sections to bring readers along with it. The autobiography wasn’t in chronological order. There might be a section about World War II and then something about his childhood, and I put them in the order that things happened. I didn’t alter the writing very much at all. Harry was a good writer despite being dyslexic and even though English was his second language.

The book’s organization is kind of curious. More than half of it is Harry’s autobiography. The autobiography went to only 1965, and I did research with Rita’s help. I interviewed a lot of people who were not New Age or psychic people, like the architecture critic for the Dallas Morning News, and his close friend, Dr. (Robert) Dreher in Rockport. And there were letters about his time with (writer) Aldous Huxley. 

Q: Do you think Harry was completely honest in his memoirs? Were you able to verify them? Some of his World War II resistance experiences seem extraordinary.

A: The World War II experiences are pretty extraordinary, and I think he is absolutely honest about those. He might have left some things out for the sake of people who were still alive at the time, but the stuff about him being imprisoned by the Gestapo is true. He was very motivated. He saw his girlfriend murdered by the Nazis, and he had an absolute hatred of the Nazis in Holland. But then, when he was in prison, a Nazi man left him a sandwich. Where he may not have been exactly forthcoming is about his desertion of his family in Holland. He mentioned that the divorce papers never arrived, but he fled Holland and left his son and daughter, and that had a big impact on them, and he never went back to Holland. But while he was not forthcoming about his personal life, about his psychic experience and World War II, he was honest. 

Q: I find it interesting that a writer of Aldous Huxley’s reputation could have spent all that time in Maine and received no notice. How do you think that happened?

A: He was actually in Maine only two or three weeks. He was confined to the Round Table Foundation except for one day, when he became a tourist and went up the coast in a car and had a lobster dinner. But at the Round Table Foundation, they had an extreme interest in what he had to say, and had no interest in publicizing this. I don’t think he would have been recognized, flying into the Owls Head airport. 

But the Round Table Foundation proved to be amazingly anonymous. It was not reported in a newspaper or any other way. There was a reporter for the New York Times who came up and interviewed (scientist) Andrija Puharich even before Huxley came, so there are all sorts of things to back up my research. 

Q: Do you think there is enough information available to do a book or long paper on the foundation?

A: I think it would be difficult, because the people who lived and worked there are dead. There was a librarian in Camden who as a child had been invited to come to the foundation to play, but then I had my heart attack, and I decided it was time to get this thing published.

I think there would be room for research, because there is a lot of interest in this subject. But it would take a lot of time weeding through what is on the Internet.  

Q: Artists’ reputations have ups and downs over the years. How is Stump’s sculpture considered today?

A: I think it continues to be good. I keep running across people who have his sculpture, and his work is known, but not as well as it should be. Scuttlebutt Antiques in Warren has quite a bit of his work, some of it damaged. 

Rita does have a lot of wonderful little pieces, like of a girl jumping rope. He did some wonderful stuff, using stained glass of dancers and children. It would be great to have a retrospective of his work.

Q: This is your first book. Any others in the works?

A: I do have a first draft of a novel that I finished before beginning the Harry Stump research. 

Q: I know you do some freelance writing in your retirement. What else are you doing to keep busy these days?

A: I like going to galleries and hanging out with Jane. Black-and-white film photography is very big. I do digital, but I love black-and-white film photography. I got an honorable mention in a show at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell. 

Q: Anything else I should have asked or that you would like to say?

A: Only that this book wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Harry’s widow, Rita Stump. She is an absolutely wonderful person, and I worked with her from beginning to end, and we will split any proceeds form the book.

Also Harry’s daughter, Miriam, who is in Holland. Her photos add a great deal to this book. I would email her and ask about a place her father mentioned, a castle or a sculpture, and these wonderful photos would arrive.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

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