This resource guide is based on a reading list for a seminar ( provides an overview of resources held by the University of Exeter's Special Collections and the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum that relate to esotericism and the magical tradition.
The boxes below list sources from the collections relating to different themes, and contain links to the catalogues, through which you can explore the collections further.
The resources highlighted in this guide have been identified using our catalogues, but are not exhaustive. You can search our archives catalogue and library catalogue with key word searches to identify further items of interest. More information on searching the catalogues can be found on the Search our Catalogues LibGuide. If you come across any other sources within our collections that you think should be included in this guide, we would be very pleased to hear about them.
Archives and rare books held by Special Collections and the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum are available to everyone. More information about accessing the collections can be found in our Visiting Heritage Collections LibGuide. Please note that there may be some restrictions on accessing and copying (including photography) material in the archives and books held by Special Collections and the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum in line with current data protection and copyright legislation. Always make sure to check the access conditions on the archive catalogue and email Special Collections before your visit for more information about specific restrictions.
Anon, The Doctrine of Devils
London: for the author, 1676
Giambattista Della Porta, Natural magick… wherein are set forth all the riches and delights of the natural sciences [English translation of Magia naturalis, with signature of Courtenay Pole]
London: for Thomas Young & Samuel Speed, 1658
John Beaumont, An historical, physiological and theological treatise of spirits, apparitions, witchcrafts, and other magical practices...
London: for D.Browne, &c, 1705
Abbé Laurent Bordelon, A history of the ridiculous extravagancies of Monsieur Oufle: occasioned by his reading books treating of magick, the black-art, daemoniacks, conjurers, witches... / written originally in French by the Abbot B- and now translated into English
London: J.Morphew, 1711
Richard Payne Knight, A discourse on the worship of Priapus and its connection with the mystic theology of the ancients.
London: Privately Printed, 1894
James Fergusson, Tree and serpent worship: or illustrations of mythology and art in India in the 1st and 4th centuries after Christ...
London: India Museum, 1873. 2 vols
Athanasius Kircher S.J., Ars magna lucis et umbrae: in X. libros digesta
The Cinema Museum also has a large collection of books, ephemera and artefacts on the history of magic lanterns, phantasmagoria, optical illusions, photography, Victorian magic and music hall performance, with many items relating to séances, Victorian occult activities, John Nevil Maskelyne and George Cooke’s magic shows at the House of Mysteries, the Egyptian Hall, rationalist ‘debunking’ of spiritualist sessions, and so on. These include a colour plate of ‘Pepper’s Ghost’:
Theodore Eckardt and A.H. Keane (trans.), Physics in pictures: the principal natural phenomena and appliances, described and illustrated by thirty coloured plates for ocular instruction in schools and families.
London: Edward Stanford, 1882
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