Gregory Pendennis Library Of Black Sorcery

Posts Tagged ‘non-fiction’

Donald McCormick – The Hellfire Club

Posted by demonik on December 5, 2009

Donald McCormick – The Hellfire Club (Pedigree, nd: originally Jarrold, 1958)



When John Wilkes was prosecuted for the obscene libel of his Essay on Women in 1763, the repercussions of this case produced one of the biggest political scandals of all time.
A shocked public learned that its Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and other Cabinet Ministers had for years been masquerading in the semi-ruined Abbey of Medmenham on the banks of the Thames. Not only had they dressed up as “monks” and indulged in mysterious rites, but they had admitted to their strange society masked and hooded women, whom they were pleased to call “nuns”.
When the secret of Medmenham became known, this rakes’ club transferred its headquarters to caves cut deep into the heart of West Wycombe Hill. Thus posterity has come to know the originally styled “Knights of Saint Francis of Wycombe” as the “Hell-Fire Club”.
This book makes a fascinating study of an age when rakemanship was a fine art. By judicious selection of much original material, including extracts from the club’s wine books, from faded letters and diaries of con­temporary figures, the author has succeeded in building up a factual, well-documented picture of these scandalous “monks” and their lively “nuns”.
“Read this fascinating book for a close-up of the rakes who once ruled Britain.”— Daily Mirror.
This is an original PEDIGREE BOOKS reprint, complete and unabridged, of a book hitherto available only in full cloth-bound form and priced at 18s. net.
For the BEST in modern reading choose — PEDIGREE BOOKS

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Phil Baker – The Devil is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley

Posted by demonik on November 21, 2009

Phil Baker – The Devil is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley (Dedalus, October 31st, 2009)



Cover design: Jonathan Barker

One of the giants of popular fiction, with total sales of around fifty million books, Dennis Wheatley held twentieth-century Britain spellbound. His Black Magic novels like The Devil Rides Out created an oddly seductive and luxurious vision of Satanism, but in reality he was as interested in politics as occultism. Wheatley was closely involved with the secret intelligence community, and this powerfully researched study shows just how directly this drove his work, from his unlikely warnings about the menace of Satanic Trade Unionism to his role in a British scheme to engineer a revival of Islam.

Drawing on a wealth of unpublished material, Phil Baker examines Wheatley’s key friendship with a fraudster named Eric Gordon Tombe, and uncovers the full story of his sensational 1922 murder. Baker also explores Wheatley’s relationships with occult figures such as Rollo Ahmed, Aleister Crowley, and the Reverend Montague Summers, the shady priest and demonologist who inspired the memorably evil character of Canon Copely-Syle, in To The Devil – A Daughter.

Like Sax Rohmer and John Buchan, Wheatley has now moved from being perceived as dated to positively vintage, and this groundbreaking biography offers a major reassessment of his significance and status.



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Peter Haining & A. V. Sellwood – Devil Worship In Britain

Posted by glampunk on August 25, 2007

Peter Haining & A. V. Sellwood –  Devil Worship In Britain (Corgi, 1964)

Haining & Sellwood Devil Worship In Britain

A collaboration with A. V. Sellwood, Devil Worship In Britain (Corgi, 1964) is the first of, literally, hundreds of books the phenomenon that is Peter Haining has put his name to down the decades. It is also, quite probably, the least likely to see republication.

The tract began life as a series of articles Haining contributed to an Essex newspaper which he expands here into a full-scale investigation. Written entirely in some ‘sixties strain of sexy journalism, virtually every other sentence ends on a “and what are the relevant authorities doing about this? absolutely nothing!” note of moral indignation. You can tell they just loved researching it!

Things get off to a good start with a spirited account of a woodland ceremony, or, as the authors would have it, a “perverted orgy”:

“A peep into history – to the Moloch worshippers of ancient Carthage? Unfortunately no”

No indeed, for, courtesy of a man known only as ‘Vigilant’ who’d contacted them after reading Haining’s articles and promised an evening that would give them something to think about, lucky Peter and A. V. have just witnessed a Sabbat but a few miles from where they live! Watching from a place of concealment, they began to fear a human sacrifice was about to take place, but thankfully the High Priest was only showing off with his sabre and just about the worst that occured was a naked, altar bound girl spouting indecipherable messages from the dead. Then everybody went home.

This lucky break proves to be a false dawn, however, as, hardly is the investigation proper underway than their covers are blown, interviewees mysteriously cancel and dire telephone threats are received from a North London-based coven (!). However, our intrepid pair are in no mood to let these setbacks thwart them in their unswerving mission and, as promised on the cover, they’re still able to dig the dirt on “The Nude Dancers of the North”, “Sexual Orgies!” “An obscene rite in the North Country” and all the usual Dennis Wheatley/ News of the World staples we’ve come to expect from the brethren of Beelzebub.

Is it a “good” book? I’m no judge of such matters, but I suspect probably not. Could it in any ways be described as “essential”? I very much doubt that too, but …

What is interesting about Devil Worship In Britain is the contemporary accounts of various outrages perpetuated by ‘Black Magicians’ from the late ‘fifties through to 1963. Some, like those at Clophill and, to a lesser extent, Westham, are relatively familiar, but who remembers the Bluebell Wood horror or indeed, the aforementioned nude dancers save, in the latter case, the participants – and those who purchased the secretly filmed video of their exploits via various specialist Soho outlets? It’s likewise useful to learn that a ‘Black Magic’ aggregate were operating in North London immediately prior to the formation of the shadowy Gravediggers Union.

Haining pursued the theme through his introduction to the short story collection The Satanists (Neville Spearman, 1969), but his short and altogether more restrained account of events in the passing years are nowhere near as memorable.

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