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Summers, Montague (1880-1948)

Summers, Montague (1880-1948)

Author who wrote about occult history and folklore. Alphonsus Joseph-Mary Augustus Montague Summers was born on April 10, 1880, near Bristol, England. He attended a private academy that prepared him to enter Clifton College. In 1899 he entered Trinity College, Oxford, and then went on to Lich-field Theological College to prepare for the Anglican priest-hood. He received his B.A. in 1905 and an M.A. the following year. After a brief stay in Italy, in 1908 he was ordained a deacon and assigned to a Church of England congregation in Bath. He later served in Bitton, a suburb of Bristol. Soon after his assignment there, he and another clergyman were accused of homosexual activity. Although acquitted, he left the church and became a Roman Catholic. At some point, he seems to have been ordained as a priest.

Summers served in a parish for a brief period but in 1911 became a teacher. Over the next decades he pursued the life of an independent scholar, which led him to become a respected authority on the literature and drama of the Restoration era and on Gothic literature. His expertise emerged fully in the 1930s with a series of textsThe Restoration Theatre (1934), A Bibliography of Restoration Drama (1935), The Gothic Quest: A History of the Gothic Novel (1938), and A Gothic Bibliography (1940).

Summers reached a more popular audience with his interest in the occult and some of the more esoteric areas of folklore. Once he retired from his teaching post in 1925, he devoted his full time to research and writing. His first important book, and possibly still his best known, A History of Witchcraft and Demonology, appeared in 1926. It was followed by Geography of Witchcraft (1927). He moved on to complete his massive surveys of vampirism: The Vampire: His Kith and Kin (1928) and The Vampire in Europe (1929). He also edited English editions of Malleus Male-ficarum (The Witches' Hammer, 1928), Compendium Maleficarum (1929), Demonolatry (1930), and Reginald Scot's The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1930). His occult interests continued with his study of The Werewolf (1933) and Witchcraft and Black Magic (1946).

Summers wrote as a conservative Catholic who retained pre-Enlightenment views concerning the reality of evil supernaturalism. Such views distracted from his otherwise scholarly perspectives on witchcraft and vampires, both of which he believed existed.

Summers died August 10, 1948, in England. He wrote an autobiographical study, which was published in 1980 as The Galanty Show.

Sources:

Frank, Frederick S. Montague Summers: A Bibliographical Portrait. Methuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1988.

Jerome, Joseph. Montague Summers: A Memoir. London: Cecil and Amerila Woolf, 1965.

Morrow, Feliz. "The Quest for Montague Summers." In The Vampire: His Kith and Kin, by Montague Summer. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1960.

Smith, Timothy d'Arch. A Bibliography of the Works of Montague Summers. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1964.

Summers, Montague. The Galanty Show. London: Cecil Woolf, 1980.

. Geography of Witchcraft. London, 1927.

. The Gothic Quest: A History of the Gothic Novel. 1938.

Reprint, London: Fortune Press, 1950.

. A History of Demonology and Witchcraft. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926.

. The Vampire: His Kith and Kin. London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1928.

. The Werewolf. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1933.

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