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The Intriguing Origins of the Word ‘Fortean’ and its Connection to Charles Fort

Exploring the world of Charles Fort, the Dutch-American writer who inspired the term 'Fortean'


Exploring the world of Charles Fort, the Dutch-American writer who inspired the term ‘Fortean’


In the vast realm of the unexplained and the mysterious, the term ‘Fortean’ is a widely recognized word that is synonymous with strange phenomena and paranormal occurrences. But where did this term come from, and how did it become so deeply intertwined with the world of the unusual? In this blog post, we will delve into the origins of the word ‘Fortean’ and its fascinating connection to the Dutch-American writer, Charles Fort.

The Birth of ‘Fortean’

The term ‘Fortean’ is derived from the name of Charles Fort (1874-1932), a Dutch-American writer and researcher known for his extensive work in cataloguing and investigating various unexplained phenomena. Born in Albany, New York, Charles Fort was a curious and inquisitive individual who dedicated his life to the pursuit of the unknown.

From a young age, Fort was captivated by the mysteries of the world and sought to understand them. He began collecting news clippings and articles about strange occurrences, unexplained events, and enigmatic sightings from around the globe. Eventually, this passion evolved into a full-time occupation, leading him to compile thousands of accounts of unusual phenomena in his extensive notes.

Charles Fort’s Legacy

Charles Fort’s work first gained widespread recognition with the publication of his book, “The Book of the Damned” in 1919. This groundbreaking work was the culmination of years of tireless research and documentation, and it presented a comprehensive collection of strange and unexplained phenomena.

The book was met with both acclaim and skepticism, as it challenged the scientific community’s established notions and beliefs. Fort’s work encouraged open-mindedness and the questioning of conventional wisdom, and his investigations into the unknown inspired others to explore the boundaries of accepted knowledge.

Over the years, Fort published several more books, including “New Lands” (1923), “Lo!” (1931), and “Wild Talents” (1932), all of which delved into the mysterious and the inexplicable. Collectively, these works formed the foundation of what would become known as ‘Fortean’ phenomena.

The Fortean Movement

The term ‘Fortean’ was first used by Fort’s friend and fellow writer, Tiffany Thayer, who founded the Fortean Society in 1931 to honor and continue Fort’s work. This society attracted a diverse range of individuals, including scientists, writers, and enthusiasts, who were all intrigued by the world of the unexplained.

The Fortean Society and its members were dedicated to maintaining Fort’s legacy, promoting open-minded inquiry, and preserving his extensive collection of research material. Over time, the term ‘Fortean’ has become synonymous with the study of unexplained phenomena, paranormal events, and the questioning of established beliefs.

Today, the Fortean movement is alive and well, with numerous publications, organizations, and online communities dedicated to the exploration of the unexplained. The term ‘Fortean’ is widely used to describe phenomena that defy conventional explanation, from UFO sightings and cryptids to psychic abilities and poltergeists.


The word ‘Fortean’ and its intriguing connection to the Dutch-American writer Charles Fort highlight the importance of open-minded inquiry and the pursuit of the unknown. Fort’s work has inspired generations of researchers and enthusiasts to explore the boundaries of our understanding, leading to the development of a rich and diverse field of study that continues to captivate and fascinate.

In a world where the mysterious and the unexplained are often dismissed or ignored, the Fortean movement serves as a reminder of the power of curiosity and the importance of questioning established beliefs. Charles Fort’s enduring legacy stands as a testament to the human desire to uncover the truth behind the enigmatic and the extraordinary.

The Ongoing Influence of Charles Fort

As we continue to delve into the mysteries of our world, the work of Charles Fort remains a guiding light for those who seek the unknown. His unwavering dedication to the pursuit of truth and open-minded inquiry has influenced countless researchers, writers, and enthusiasts, as well as various fields such as ufology, cryptozoology, and parapsychology.

Charles Fort’s work also paved the way for modern-day investigative journalism and the concept of “alternative” or “fringe” sciences. By challenging the status quo and questioning the accepted explanations for the unexplained, Fort demonstrated the importance of looking beyond conventional wisdom to truly understand the complexities of our world.

Fortean Phenomena in the Digital Age

In the age of the internet, Fortean phenomena have found new life, as online communities and forums provide a platform for individuals to share their experiences and discoveries. The accessibility of information and the ability to connect with others who share a passion for the unknown have fostered a thriving online Fortean community.

Podcasts, blogs, and social media accounts dedicated to Fortean topics offer a wealth of information, and countless websites provide resources for those interested in exploring the unexplained. From detailed accounts of UFO sightings and cryptid encounters to discussions on the validity of psychic abilities and the nature of reality itself, the digital age has expanded the reach and influence of the Fortean movement.

In Conclusion

The origins of the word ‘Fortean’ and its links to Charles Fort, the Dutch-American writer, serve as a powerful reminder of the human drive to explore the unknown and question the established norms. Through his groundbreaking work and his commitment to open-minded inquiry, Fort created a lasting legacy that continues to inspire and captivate.

As we navigate the complexities of our ever-changing world, the Fortean movement serves as a beacon for those who seek to unravel the mysteries of the unexplained. By embracing the spirit of Charles Fort and his unwavering pursuit of truth, we can continue to push the boundaries of our understanding and challenge the limits of our knowledge.