Mar 202010

Montague Summers

“Here, then, is a host of material of the greatest interest and fascination waiting to be discovered. But the probability is that most of it has vanished beyond recall. However, perhaps there is some slight hope.” (Fr. Brocard Sewell, “The Manuscripts of Montague Summers” [pdf](1970))

There is more than hope, there is certainty. I have been exploring and cataloguing the archives of Montague Summers, thought to be lost in the 1950s. Father Sewell wrote an interesting article (pdf) in 1970 in The Antigonish Review about the loss of the collection and what might be contained within it. Having rediscovered its location, scholar Gerard O’Sullivan wrote a new artical in the Antigonish, The Manuscripts of Montague Summers, Revisited. He and I had been following each other on Twitter for some time and one thing led to another and the archive is now with me.

He was a colorful figure, writing on witchcraft, vampires, and werewolves, in which he claimed to believe. From an occult standpoint, he is probably best known for publishing the first translation of the Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches), the 15th century treatise on witch-hunting. He has seen a surge of popular support in recent years for his Vampire, His Kith and Kin. This last because Stephenie Meyer appears to be fond of him and quotes him, now and again, in her  Twilight books. He also wrote on black magic, the Dark Mass, and such. Though a member of the clergy (RC), his writings (and some alleged personal activities)…and his long friendship with Aleister Crowley-cast a shadow over aspects of his life.

Ordination document on vellum.

He also wrote extensively on the histories of Restoration dramas, studies of the gothic novel, fiction, and a variety of essays (including a gem on Poe). The archive includes handwritten and typed manuscripts of both published and unpublished works and dozens and dozens of letters.

A personal favorite is the manuscript of Summers’ unpublished play, “William Henry: A Play in Four Acts”. William Henry Ireland was a poet and writer of gothic novels…but is most famous as a forger. His greatest forgery, and downfall, was forging a “new” Shakespearian play, Vortigern and Rowena. I am toying with having the boys perform this play this summer…they best hope I place the collection before school frees them.
Another wee gem is a note (below) to the gentleman who repaired Summers’ typewriter…or failed to so so. There are, in addition to piles of personal and professional letters,  also the documents of an interesting man’s life. Book contracts, etc. are to be expected, but ordination (to Deacon) on vellum was an interesting thing (more so as his status in the church has sometimes been questioned). So many things to play with…so many other things I should be doing. Wretched.
I have a representative list of the contents of the collection (though by no stretch complete), ask if you’d like to see it. Truly, it is hard to put words to how much I love what I do.

Witchcraft and Black Magic.

Jane Austen Horrid Novels Introduction.

The Vampires of the Carpathians

Letter to his (failed) typewriter repairman.

Hugh Hefner-Teen Cartoonist

 Posted by at 10:08 am  blogs, Bookish
Mar 022010

Steven Gertz has posted a very nice article at BookPatrol on the rather amazing collection of Hefner material I spent several weeks cataloguing. Steven focuses on one elements, Hefner’s brilliant cartoon. Hefner, as a young man, wanted to be a cartoonist (and did the early cartoons for Playboy).

During high school, Hugh would take notes on what his friends were wearing during the day so that he could sketch them accurately in the evening for his remarkable “School Daze” (approx. 33 volumes that are part of his private collection). Jane told me that she and her female friends would check School Daze to find out which of their boyfriends were fooling around behind their backs as Hugh would document *everything*. The cartoons in this collection are the only copies I know of that are not in Hefner’s personal library.
I knew very little about Hefner before cataloguing this collection. 60 years of personal correspondence later, I have to admit that I am amazed by the man.