Fairchild Gallery and Special Collections Gallery
Author Translator of the Malleus Maleficarum
October 2023-February 2024
If you have an interest in the history of European witchcraft or the darker contents of folklore and history, and you have browsed the shelves of libraries or bookshops in recent decades, then the chances are great that you have encountered books by the Reverend Montague Summers.
Marketing his expertise on the occult under the assumed title of a Catholic priest, Summers’ fame was cemented by 1929, with the publication of his own translation of the notorious Malleus Maleficarum, or The Witches’ Hammer, first printed in 1486. The popularity of his work on the supernatural was underpinned by his stated belief in the reality of witchcraft and in the danger that it posed to civilization.
Summers’ scholarship went well beyond the occult, however, and he established a reputation as a groundbreaking, if contentious, expert in the growing fields of Gothic literature and the English theater, and was a founder of The Phoenix, a society for the recovery and production of plays of the English Restoration. This exhibition will showcase the range of published work, letters and manuscripts of Montague Summers and provide insight into this complicated and eccentric character.