The Dennis Wheatley 'Museum' - Researching the Occult
Consulting the experts / 2 : Montague Summers
Montague Summers writes to thank DW for sending him a copy of 'The Devil Rides Out'
A further page from this letter and a transcript are exhibited later in the room
The copy of 'Essays in Petto' that Summers
Montague Summers (1880-1948) was the second individual DW would invariably mention, and he too was one of the most extra-ordinary personages of his day.
Born into a rich family in Clifton, he read Theology at Oxford and then went to theological college.
Summers taught English and Latin briefly at various schools, but then turned to writing as his main occupation. He was a considerable expert in two fields - the English Restoration Theatre of the seventeenth century, and the Occult.
In the former, Summers edited a large number of Restoration Plays for various publishers, and in 1919 helped found the Phoenix Society whose aim was to present them on stage. This was an immediate success and brought him a measure of fame, and by the time DW met him he was acknowledged as the greatest living authority on Restoration drama.
His writings on the Occult brought him similar renown. These started with the publication in 1926 of his 'History of Witchcraft and Demonology', which was followed by other books on witches, werewolves and vampires.
Summers was a curious looking person with his black cassock, silver cane and eighteenth century hairstyle, and there were rumours both that he had practised Black Magic in his youth and that he was a pederast.
DW may have come in contact with him long before he researched 'The Devil Rides Out' - DW's mistress Gwen Liddiard gave him a copy of Summers translation of Malleus Maleficarum in the 1920s, and his copy of 'The History of Witchcraft and Demonology' was apparently inscribed to him by Summers on Christmas Day 1926.
At any event, DW and Joan met Summers a number of times, and they were eventually invited to spend a weekend with Summers at his house in Alresford.
For DW's account of this disastrous weekend, click here.
References : 'Drink and Ink' pp 131, 133-4, 261.
Further reading : See the Wikipedia entry on Montague Summers