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Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Authors

John Symonds

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John Symonds

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Full Name: John Symonds
Born: March 12, 1914
London, UK
Died: October 21, 2006
London, UK
Occupation: Novelist, Biographer, Playwright
Nationality: British


He was the son of Robert Wemyss Symonds and Lily Sapzells. At the age of 16 he moved to London and began educating himself by spending long hours in the reading room of the British Museum. A partial reconciliation with his father resulted in the latter funding research work that John Symonds would later mine for his own novels later in life.

In 1946 he published his first novel, William Waste. This was followed in 1955 by The Lady in the Tower, and, in 1957, by another love story, A Girl Among Poets, which won praise from Sir John Betjeman, who wrote of the author's "gift for describing farcical situations".

Symonds met the infamous occultist and founder of the Thelemite religion, Aleister Crowley in 1946, the year before Crowley's death. Crowley's will left the copyright of his works to his unincorporated magical society, the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), and made him Crowley's literary executor. Along with one of Crowley's disciples, Kenneth Grant, Symonds edited and republished Crowley's autobiography and a number of his other works. Further to this, he authored four biographical works of his own: The Great Beast (1952), The Magic of Aleister Crowley (1958), The King of the Shadow Realm (1989) and The Beast 666 (1997).

After a period of writing children's books Symonds returned to biographies in 1959 with Madame Blavatsky, Medium and Magician, a life of the famous Theosophist. This was followed in 1961 with Thomas Brown and the Angels: A Study in Enthusiasm, about the life of a Methodist who becomes involved with the Shakers.

Novels followed, beginning with William Waste (1947), The Lady in the Tower (1955), A Girl Among Poets (1957), then a gothic fantasy, Bezill (1962), then Light Over Water (1963), in which a journalist researches into the world of the occult. The subject of With a View on the Palace (1966) is a Russian film director who becomes obsessed with the Royal Family to the point of hiring an apartment near Buckingham Palace so he can observe their movements.

Symonds wrote twenty-six plays but not many were performed. In 1970 Symonds was appointed to the editorial board of Man, Myth & Magic Encyclopedia.

He died on 21 October 2006 and was buried on the east side of Highgate Cemetery.

Works in the WWEnd Database

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