Eric Graham Howe

People who knew Paine at Welwyn recalled that he ‘never discussed art or design theory, religion or politics’.   They evidently did not know of his association with the psychiatrist, Eric Graham Howe.   His CV (post 1945) states that ‘Under the Chairmanship of Dr. Howe (1896-1975) [he] demonstrated to ‘The Time Club, “the time factor in relation to colour”, “Form and Colour”, “Morality and Reality” “I and ME” ‘.   The Time Club centred on J. W. Dunne’s theory of time set forth in An Experiment with Time, first published in 1927.   The book was very widely read and discussed in the 1920’s and 30’s.   His theory – that all times, past, present and future, are existent in the eternal Now and that the passage of time is a function of human consciousness (This may not be a fair summary) – influenced a number of writers including J. B. Priestley, Aldous Huxley and T. S. Eliot and was probably the inspiration for The Dark Tower, an unfinished story by C. S. Lewis.  Priestley said of it, ‘One of the most fascinating, the most curious, and perhaps the most important books of this age.   Everybody who has the slightest intellectual curiosity should become acquainted with it … it makes the wildest scientific romance, such as Mr. Wells’ Time Machine, seem merely tame’.  

Howe was a truly remarkable man.   In 1914, aged just seventeen and a half, he lied about his age and enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles.   Commissioned after six months, he was posted to India and by the age  of  twenty  had  reached  the rank of  major.      In 1927, after just four years of medical training at St. Thomas’s hospital he received both his M.B.B.S. and a diploma in psychological medicine – a remarkable feat.   In 1928 he was among the founders of the Tavistock Clinic and was, for a time, one of the U.K.’s most well-known and sought-after psychiatrists.   During the Second World War he delivered on BBC radio ‘a series of four popular but controversial lectures on how to cope with the stresses of the time.   He was an extraordinarily gifted speaker, whose strong but calmly reassuring personal presence enabled him to challenge his listeners in ways that few others were willing to risk’.   (The Druid of Harley Street: The Spiritual Psychology of E. Graham Howe ed. William Stranger pub. 2009 p. 33)   He published more than a dozen books and numerous articles on a broad range of subjects from Schizophrenia to Asian spiritual practices.     E. Graham Howe He was  attacked by  the ‘scientific’ psychiatry  and  psychoanalysis establishment because ‘he took concepts derived from spiritual practice and existential phenomenology and applied  them to an understanding of psychotherapy’.     He avoided the use of psychiatric jargon and wrote in plain, accessible language which did not go down well in some professional quarters.   Although shunned by the mainstream, his ideas had a profound influence on intellectuals such as, Henry Miller,  Alan  Watts and R. D. Laing, the eminent Scottish psychiatrist who called Howe ‘a master psychologist’.  In his introduction to Howe’s Cure or Heal? Laing wrote, ‘What we have here is not a[n] Eric Graham Howe synthesis of different schools,  but  an  original  expression in the modern idiom of that which all schools seek to express in more or less rigid and desiccated ways.   But the expression here is supple and fresh.’

It is probable that Paine came to know Dr. Howe in the early thirties or perhaps even before that.   Howe’s first book Morality and Reality: an Essay on the Law of Life was published in 1934 with diagrams drawn by Paine.   He also illustrated I and ME published in 1935.   Evidently, Paine knew Howe very well.   Writing to him from 146 Harley Street, Howe begins, ‘I have been waiting and hoping for your letter for a long time:  and  I  am  delighted that it has come’ and he concludes, ‘Something has been added to my joy in living since your letter came this morning’.   The letter is undated as to the year (July 6).  They seem to have been estranged for some reason and Howe is anxious to renew the friendship.    He writes, ‘I can guess how hard things must have been for you: did I in any way help to make them harder?   If so, I am deeply sorry: the situation was so difficult …’   This might well be a reference to Paine’s parting with Jim.   He invites Paine to ‘come in’ to lunch, perhaps alluding to the journey from Welwyn where Paine was living at least from 1936.

Diagram Paine Morality and Reality      Paine - Ride Him Cowboy 'I and Me'                    

     ‘Morality and Reality’ page 36                              ‘I and Me’ page 115

There is no doubt that Howe was an important influence in Paine’s life.   In 1988 his third wife (1962-67) wrote in a letter, ‘I do know about Eric Graham Howe – I heard about him for five years!   He was a crank in my way of thinking … he was married and had some children – he was always applying a psychological reason for everything they did.’

The demonstrations to the ‘Time Club’ (See note below) continued until 1945 and perhaps beyond.   Alexandra Burns was inspired to write a poem, The Cosmic Law Portrayed, ‘after seeing an abstract portrayal of the Cosmic Law in action on a Drawing Board by Charles Paine’.   She added, ‘Seen and written on  Thursday 11th October 1945.   For Charles Paine the Artist, who has seen God’.

I have been unable to discover anything further about The Time Club.   I would be most grateful for any information.
For an analysis of Howe’s handwriting see:

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