Freemasonry has always attracted writers ever since the early beginnings of the society; James Anderson is an early example, Anderson writing the Constitutions in 1723 and 1738. Freemasonry has always been an attractive topic to write about, best exemplified recently with Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol, and it is not surprising that some Masonic writers drew inspiration from the Craft. Seven of my personal favourite Masonic writers are listed here, and it was certainly a list I had difficulty with as I could have included many more, such as Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg to name but a few. Perhaps there will be another list of Masonic writers compiled soon…..
Alexander Pope was a poet and satirist of the early eighteenth century, famous for many works such as The Rape of the Lock, a poem that has certain esoteric overtones, and Essay on Man, which has Masonic themes. Pope was a London based Freemason and knew many other Masons at the time such as Jonathan Swift, and became introduced to members of the aristocracy that moved in these circles such as the Duke of Chandos.
Jonathan Swift was a writer, satirist and political pamphleteer, whose best known work Gulliver’s Travels is still widely read and has been adapted for film and TV many times. The work was a satirical attack on the corruption of Walpole’s Whig Oligarchy during the first half of the eighteenth century. The book is a satirical looking glass – and also attacks the Imperialism and Colonialism that was being undertaken at the time. He also knew Pope and frequented the Devils Tavern.
Godfrey Higgins was born in 1772, he resided at Skellow Grange near Doncaster, living the life of a comfortable country squire. He was educated at Cambridge and studied law, becoming a Yorkshire magistrate, a Freemason and a reformer, playing a leading role in uncovering the abuse of the patients at the York Lunatic Asylum. Higgins wrote the acclaimed Anacalypsis, a book that still manages to be controversial today, dividing historians in the way the work has influenced modern day Theosophy and occultism. The work discusses Higgins’ provocative ideas on a long-lost ancient source for all religions, beliefs, philosophies and the origins of the York Grand Lodge – a must read for all Freemasons interested in philosophy.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a Freemason who was also attracted to the occult, investigating mediums and taking a keen interest in the incident of the Cottingley Fairies. Conan Doyle’s most famous work – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – had strong Masonic themes in some of the stories, and along with Rudyard Kipling and Jerome K Jerome, he wrote a letter of good will when the Authors’ Lodge was founded in London.
Henry Rider Haggard
Henry Rider Haggard was a Freemason who wrote about the themes of the Craft in his most popular adventure novels, especially She, King Solomon’s Mines, and The Holy Flower, books that deal with the search for lost knowledge and life, death and rebirth. His books contain the essence of the colonising spirit of late Victorian and Edwardian England; his works conveying tales of discovery within the Empire. He was a close friend of Rudyard Kipling, and Rider Haggard also sent the Authors’ Lodge a letter of good will when the lodge opened in 1910.
Rudyard Kipling certainly discussed Masonic themes in some of his poems and novels, such as The Man Who Would be King, a novel that captured the themes of the search for lost knowledge and the search for lost civilisations. Kipling also wrote a letter of goodwill to the Authors’ Lodge in 1910. Kipling had been initiated into the Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 782, based in Lahore, India, in 1886, and went on to become an honorary member of the Authors’ Lodge.
Mark Twain was a Freemason, and is best known for such excellent novels such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court. The latter novel has themes of time travel, and features an attempt to alter the past, and is seen as an early science fiction novel. Twain had an interest in science and technology, but also had an interest in parapsychology, which echoes the interests of the writer and Mason Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
More information on the content of the article can be found in books below: