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 Lichfield
Theological College to prepare for the Anglican priesthood.
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 texts—The 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 Maleficarum
(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 preEnlightenment
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.