Please note: The Sorcery Club is a reprint of an out of print, public domain novel and is not a gaming supplement.
Now we begin our most mysterious edition of Classics of the Occult and Supernatural. Elliot O’Donnell’s The Sorcery Club first saw publication in 1912 and was again brought to the light in 1974 through Dennis Wheatley’s Library of the Occult series (being volume six of that series). This present volume is, of course, based upon the text of the 1912 edition of the book. The Sorcery Club starts with a man accidentally coming upon a volume detailing the Black Magical Arts of Ancient Atlantis, and his subsequent descent into the world of the occult.
An author of popular books on occult subjects, Elliot O'Donnell was born February 27, 1872, in England. A colorful character in life, he claimed descent from Irish chieftains of ancient times, including Niall of the Nine Hostages (the King Arthur of Irish folklore) and Red Hugh, who fought the English in the sixteenth century. O’Donnell was educated at Clifton College, Bristol, England, and Queen’s Service Academy, Dublin, Ireland. He had a psychic experience at the age of five, in a house where he saw a nude elemental figure covered with spots. As a young man, he claimed he was half strangled by a mysterious phantom in Dublin.
His first book, written in his spare time, was a psychic thriller titled For Satan’s Sake (1904). From this point onward, he became a writer. He wrote several popular novels but specialized in what were claimed as true stories of ghosts and hauntings. These were immensely popular, but his flamboyant style and amazing stories suggest that he embroidered fact with a romantic flair for fiction.
In later life he became a ghost hunter, but first he traveled in America, working on a range in Oregon and becoming a policeman during the Chicago Railway Strike of 1894. Returning to England, he worked as a schoolmaster and trained for the theater. He served in the British army in World War I, and later acted on stage and in movies. He also lectured and broadcast (radio and television) on the paranormal in Britain and the United States. In addition to his more than 50 books, he wrote scores of articles and stories for national newspapers and magazines. He claimed “I have investigated, sometimes alone, and sometimes with other people and the press, many cases of reputed hauntings. I believe in ghosts but am not a spiritualist.”
The O’Donnells were reputed to have a banshee —the wailing ghost that heralds a death, and O’Donnell wrote the first book devoted entirely to the subject. It is not known whether his own passing evoked this phantom, but he lived to the age of ninety-three years.
He died on May 8, 1965. His entry in the British publication Who's Who listed his hobbies as "investigating queer cases, inventing queer games, and frightening crooks with the Law."