December 2014 | Rebecca Rego Barry

The Starry Wisdom Library

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 2.46.21 PM.pngWe at FB&C are excited to announce the publication of longtime writer, columnist, and blogger Nate Pedersen's new book: The Starry Wisdom Library: A Catalogue of the Greatest Occult Book Auction of All Time (PS Publishing, jacketed hardcover, £20, $31). Instead of stories, this anthology presents a fanciful "facsimile" of an 1877 rare book auction catalogue, listing 44 volumes "to be sold" by Messrs. Pent & Serenade from the collection of the Church of Starry Wisdom in Providence, Rhode Island. Among the offerings: the possibly 16th-century manuscript called "The Daemonolorum," Hieron Algypton, a seven-foot papyrus scroll dating to 200 B.C., and The Black Book of the Skull, printed by none other than Aldus Manutius in 1511.

The book features essays on the history of major occult tomes from the Lovecraft Mythos, written by contemporary horror authors--one of which, Nick Mamatas, we are proud to say is another FB&C contributor. Each essay takes the form of an auction catalogue entry, formatted to the usual cataloging standards by rare book dealer Jonathan Kearns of Adrian Harrington Rare Books in London, followed by a longer narrative on the volume's creation and provenance. The book's graphic design and six large illustrations perfectly evoke the funereal undercurrent of high Victorianism.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 3.15.24 PM.pngIn addition to editing all of the essays, Pedersen penned an entry on a volume containing Thaumaturgical Prodigies in the New English Canaan, later re-bound with: The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies. Providence: Bazalgette and Dagg. 1801, enhanced with an obsessed student's marginalia. It is also fun to note that the idea for The Starry Wisdom Library evolved from a 2012 story Pedersen wrote for the FB&C blog about collecting Lovecraft's grimoires--the "fake" books he mentions throughout his fiction.  

Congratulations, Nate!

Images: Cover and interior page, courtesy of Nate Pedersen.