Tag: biography

Frances Yates and the Hermetic Tradition, by Marjorie G Jones

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Frances Yates and the Hermetic Tradition, by Marjorie G. Jones
Ibis Press, 9780892541331, 262 pp. (incl. end notes, bibliography and index), 2008

Frances Yates and the Hermetic Tradition is the first full-length biography of Frances Yates, who was among the first wave of late Victorian female historians. Notes were compiled for an autobiography, but it remained incomplete at her death, though she did leave instructions for future biographers.

The account of Yates’ early years are taken in part from the unfinished autobiography, and the journal her father kept about her growth and progress from birth to a young child, with notes on her character and conduct.

Jones traces her personal and scholastic interests through Continue reading


Fire Child, by Maxine Sanders

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Fire Child: The Life & Magic of Maxine Sanders ‘Witch Queen’, by Maxine Sanders
Mandrake, 9781869928780, 309 pp., 2008

I have been waiting for this book to be written for years, if not decades. As I have said in previous reviews, we need more autobiographies (as well as biographies) concerning those people who helped to bring our religion out of the broom closet. We already had Gerald Gardner: Witch and King of the Witches: The World of Alex Sanders as well as several books relating the life and works of George Pickingill, Doreen Valiente, Sybil Leek, and more modern practitioners such as Fiona Horne. The Internet has made it easy to find out about individuals’ actions. Their motivations, however, may not be so easily determined.

One of the things I enjoyed Continue reading


Stewart Farrar, by Elizabeth Guerra

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Stewart Farrar: Writer On A Broomstick, The Biography of Stewart Farrar, by Elizabeth Guerra
RJ Stewart Books, 9780979140273, 227 pp., 2008

I have, over the past several years, bemoaned the fact that there has been a steady erosion of knowledge about the inner thoughts and attitudes of those people most influential in the Pagan movement in the earlier days of the twentieth century. Many of them have entered the Summerland and left us no records. Others are known only by their public writings.

Ms. Guerra has undertaken the gargantuan task of chronicling the life of a very influential, very well respected, and yet very private man. She is owed a large debt of gratitude for doing so. Continue reading


The Weiser Concise Guide to Aleister Crowley, by Richard Kaczynski

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The Weiser Concise Guide to Aleister Crowley, by Richard Kaczynski, edited and introduced by James Wasserman

Weiser Books, 978157634569, 126 pp. (incl. appendices), 2009

Richard Kaczynski is the author of the acclaimed biography, Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley (sadly out of print), and it’s not surprising that he is able to sketch the outlines of Crowley’s life so.  Naturally, the book begins with a biography of Crowley, briefly describing his early life, his time at Cambridge, poetry, the Golden Dawn, the reception of Leiber AL vel Legis, the OTO and the A.’. A.’., the Abbey of Thelema and his end.  The section concludes with an annotated list of twelve books of Crowley’s work as recommended reading.

Part I deals with “Mystical and Magical Societies”, specifically Continue reading


Review: I, Crowley, by Snoo Wilson

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I Crowley: Almost the Last Confession of the Beast 666, by Snoo Wilson
Mandrake of Oxford, 252 pp., 1997, 1999

A novel written as an autobiography of Aleister Crowley, I, Crowley depicts the years he spent in America, where he first met Leah, and the occurrences of the Abbey at Cefalu, concluding with Raoul’s death there.

It has been nearly sixty years since Aleister Crowley’s death, fifty at the time of the first publication of this book. A controversial figure in his time, he remains so today. In Crowley’s voice, Wilson writes: “The comic contradictions degenerators’ various ‘takes’ on my character are simply the price paid for individuality, and can be safely ignored by seekers after truth”.

One can sympathize with this view, though in fact the presentation of his character, life and writings are often heavily filtered by both his detractors and advocates alike; and depending on the final image desired, details are carefully selected to support these views. Fortunately, Wilson spares us such vulgarities, and attempts to capture Crowley’s spirit and style, and he is almost successful – a high compliment.

Wilson demonstrates his extensive knowledge of Crowley’s life, works, attitudes and mannerisms, as well as the contradictory nature of the Beast himself in exploring his inner workings.

The chapter headings follow the trumps of Crowley’s Thoth Tarot deck, and numerous footnotes and illustrations serve to further inform the text.

Irreverent and often funny, I, Crowley is a wonderful read; recommended.


Review: Lovecraft Lexicon, by Anthony B Pearsall

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The Lovecraft Lexicon: A Reader’s Guide to Persons, Places and Things in the Tales of H.P. Lovecraft, by Anthony B. Pearsall
New Falcon Publications, 1561841293, 472 pp. (incl. appendix), 2005

Lovecraft invented so many creatures and places, for a new reader approaching his works for the first time, keeping them straight could seem overwhelming. The Lovecraft Lexicon aims to aid the reader by providing a useful guide to his creations: people, places, things, and, of course, Things. It’s a neat idea, and it works. Continue reading


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