Spence, (James) Lewis (Thomas Chalmers)
(1874–1955)
Scottish journalist and scholar of the occult who took a particular
interest in the Atlantis theme. Born November 25,
1874, in Forfarshire, Scotland, he was educated privately and
at Edinburgh University before following a journalistic career.
He was copy editor of the newspaper The Scotsman,
(1899–1906), editor of The Edinburgh Magazine (1904–05), and
copy editor of The British Weekly (1906–09). About this time he
took to serious study of mythology and folklore, with special
reference to Mexico and Central America. He published some
important books on the subject, including his own study of The
Popul Vuh, the sacred book of the ancient Quiché Indians of
Maya (1908) and A Dictionary of Mythology (1910).
He also published more than 40 other works dealing with
mythology, folklore, and the occult, including the Encyclopaedia
of Occultism (1920) the first comprehensive work of its kind and
ultimately one of the primary sources of this Encyclopedia of Occultism
and Parapsychology.
He contributed articles to the Hibbert Journal, the Glasgow
Herald, and The Times. An ardent Scottish nationalist, he contested
North Midlothian as a candidate in 1929. He also found
time to write romantic poetry. He was a fellow of the Royal Anthropological
Institute of Great Britain and Ireland and was
vice president of the Scottish Anthropological and Folklore Society.
In 1951 he was awarded a royal pension for services to literature.
He is best known, perhaps, for his books exploring the Atlantis
myth. He also edited the journal Atlantis Quarterly in
1932. His Magic Arts in Celtic Britain (1945) was used extensively
in the early years of the modern neo-pagan witchcraft revival.
He died March 3, 1955.
Sources
Spence, Lewis. Atlantis in America. London E. Benn, 1925.
Reprint, Detroit Singing Tree Press, 1972.
———. British Fairy Origins. London Watts, 1946.
———. The Fairy Tradition in Britain. London; New York
Rider, 1948.
———. The History of Atlantis. 1926. Reprint, New Hyde
Park, N.Y. University Books, 1968.
———. The Magic and Mysteries of Mexico. Philadelphia
David McKay, 1930.
———. The Occult Causes of the Present War. N.p., 1940.
———. The Occult Sciences in Atlantis. London Rider, 1943.
Reprint, New York S. Weiser, 1970.
———. The Problem of Atlantis. 1924. Reprinted as Atlantis
Discovered. New York Causeway Books, 1974.
———. The Problem of Lemuria. London Rider, 1932.
———. Scottish Ghosts and Goblins. N.p., 1952.
———. Second Sight Its History and Origins. London; New
York Rider, 1951.
———. Will Europe Follow Atlantis N.p., 1942.

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