Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Spence, Lewis

(1874-1955) Scottish poet and author, a leading specialist on Mythology, Legends, Folklore, Magic, Occultism, Atlantis and ancient civilizations. He was well known as a fine reteller of great traditional legends and romances from all over the world – including those of Ancient Egypt, Spain, Brittany, Mexico and Peru, Babylonia and Assyria (> Mesopotamian Epic) and the North American Indians.

Only a small percentage of his writings were straight fiction. His best Horror, Supernatural Fiction and fantasy (including several tales in Scottish dialect) were collected as The Archer in the Arras (coll 1932). Among his uncollected fiction is a novella, "The Fellowship of the White Crane" (1926 Chambers Journal), based on Mexican arcane lore and describing a trek to the Caverna del Demonios. His monumental Encyclopedia of Occultism (1920) formed the basis of the heavily augmented and updated Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology (1984-1985 3 vols) ed Leslie Shepard.

All LS's later books were devoted to the mythologies and arcane lore of the British Isles. In The Magic Arts of Celtic Britain (1945) the entire range of British-Celtic material connected with the occult was covered in depth. Other studies of importance include British Fairy Origins (1946), The Fairy Tradition in Britain (1948), The Minor Traditions of British Mythology (1948), The History and Origins of Druidism (1949) and Second Sight (1951). [RD]

other works (poetry): Le Roi d'Ys (coll 1910); Songs Satanic and Celestial (coll 1913); Plumes of Time (coll 1926); Weirds and Vanities (coll 1927); Collected Poems of Lewis Spence (coll 1953).

other works (nonfiction): A Dictionary of Mythology (1910); Mexico of the Mexicans (1917); The Gods of Mexico (1923); The Problem of Atlantis (1924); Atlantis in America (1925); The History of Atlantis (1926); The Magic and Mysteries of Mexico, or The Arcane Secrets and Occult Lore of the Ancient Mexicans and Maya (1930); The Problem of Lemuria (1932); Legendary London: Early London in Tradition and History (1937); The Mysteries of Britain (1928); The Mysteries of Egypt (1929); Boadicea (1937); The Occult Causes of the Present War (1940); Will Europe Follow Atlantis? (1942); The Occult Sciences in Atlantis (1943); The Religion of Ancient Mexico (1945); Myth and Ritual in Dance, Game and Rhyme (1947).

James Lewis Thomas Chalmers Spence


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.