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Charles Godfrey Leland (customer, son of director)

Poet, Folklorist, and Educator

Charles G. Leland was a poet, folklorist, antiquarian, libertarian and educator. Born in Philadelphia, he matriculated from what is now Princeton University in 1845 and traveled extensively throughout Europe and the America’s studying Romany, witch and Native American cultures. His first literary acclaim was for the comedies, The Hans Breitmann Ballads. The Breitmann comedies were humorous ballads about German-American life written in a comedic broken English that kept readers returning and garnered Leland a wide audience. His later work was more serious in nature dealing mainly with folklore and magic such as witch-craft, sorcery and other beliefs.

One of his books, Aradia, or, The Gospel of the Witches (1899) is still widely read today by believers in Wicca and other superstitious sects. Most of the content is made up of spells and proper ways to cast them; stories behind the spells, how he came upon them and studies of the “witches” from Italy, where he received most of his information. His work, at the time, was thought of as academic in nature, but is now mostly read for its lyrical content and historical perspective.

Throughout his life he produced more than 50 books including The English Gypsies (1873), Algonquin Legends (1884) and Aradia, or, The Gospel of the Witches (1899). He died in Florence, Italy in 1903 and his ashes were interred in Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery.

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Charles Godfrey Leland Portrait Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches Charles Godfrey Leland Portrait Engraving of Leland captioned ‘Yours truly Charles G. Leland,’ n.d.