Hélène Smith, from Martigny in Switzerland, first began to claim she had contact with aliens while aged 33 in 1894.
The French national, whose real name was Catherine-Elise Müller, claimed for the next five years to actually ‘visit Mars’ and ‘communicate with aliens‘ there while having visions after going into a trance -like state.
The idea that aliens existed on other worlds dates back as far as at least the fourth century BC.
By the 1750s most educated people across Europe accepted there were extraterrestrials out there, and by the nineteenth century, many people thought there was intelligent life on Mars, Venus, and the Moon.
However, Mrs Smith, who claimed to be a medium, is believed to be one of the first people on record to claim to have so-called contact with aliens.
Mrs Smith even sketched drawings of the beings she met and the landscapes she visited.
She became known as ‘the Muse of Automatic Writing‘ by surrealists
She also claimed to be a reincarnation of a Hindu princess and Marie Antoinette.
Mrs Smith used to write out alleged Martian speech onto paper and them translate it into French, a form of automatic writing.
She was studied by Théodore Flournoy, Professor of Psychology at the University of Geneva, who published the book Des Indes à la Planete Mars (From India to the Planet Mars) in 1899.
It featured her paintings of Martian landscapes and documented her ‘experiences‘ on Mars.
In 1900, a wealthy American spiritualist called Mrs Jackson hired Mrs Smith to continue documenting her experiences.
Although Professor Flournoy and Mrs Smith had been close, he later claimed she was just having
‘infantile imaginings‘ and her Martian language was invented.
He said it had a strong resemblance to French and her automatic writing was from ‘romances of the subliminal imagination, including memories of childhood books.
Psychologists Leonard Zusne and Warren Jones later studied the case.
They concluded: “Flournoy was able to show her Martian language was an artful fabrication. “Although it sounded decidedly foreign, frequency analysis of words and letters and an examination of the syntax convinced Flournoy that the language had all the basic structural characteristics of French, Hélène Smith‘s native tongue.
“In a subsequent investigation, Flournoy reported that the source of a short phrase that she had written in Arabic during her Indian cycle probably came from having seen an identical phrase inscribed in a book owned by a Genevan physician.
“She had retained a visual image of the script and, in due time, copied it from memory in an uncertain hand.“
In 1952 psychologist Donovan Rawcliffe also examined the case and said Mrs Smith, who died in Geneva, aged 67, in 1929, suffered from a fantasy prone personality and hysterical hallucinations.