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I've heard about the famous nutter occultist, religion founder, and writer Aleister Crowley since my childhood, but always pronouncing it to rhyme with "owly". For this reason, when reading Good Omens I also pronounced the demon Crowley's name that way in my head, and I was surprised to find it rhyming with "holy" "unholy" in the TV adaptation. Then, doubting myself on the pronunciation of the original Crowley, I went to check online and found that Wikipedia says Aleister Crowley's name also rhymes with "unholy". But this claim on Wikipedia is unsourced.

How did Aleister Crowley pronounce his last name? Is there any evidence in his writings?

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    I’m voting to close this question because it's a name pronounciation question unrelated to the topic literature. Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 2:22
  • @Cahir If I don't know how to say the guy's name, pretty hard to discuss him as an author and his literary works, no? (Plus the answer actually comes from a piece of literature, but that's neither here nor there.)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 6:58
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    That seems a rather weird way to make this a literature question, I have to say. You need to know how to pronounce his name in order to be able to talk about his literature? I mean, c'mon. ;-) Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 13:21
  • @Cahir ... yes? What's weird about that? If I don't know whether to talk about a book of CrOWley or a book of CrOHley, how can I even begin talking about his stuff? (In real life, I mean, not on a site like this where we're just typing.) I mean, I could edit this question to say I'm going to give a presentation in a conference about Crowley's poetry, to make it obviously a relevant question for literature people, but I'd've thought it's an obvious prerequisite to discussing this author and his works in any case.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 13:50
  • Frankly, such an edit would make the question a lot worse since this really would seem like turning yourself bass ackwards in order to contrive some entirely unrelated reason to make this entirely indirectly related to literature. Rather than that if the question was more about the Good Omens Crowley, possibly in relation to the real one, I could see how it's relevant. But asking "what brand of coffee is best to serve in a literature seminar?" really just make no sense to me. Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 13:58

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Crowley wrote a poem called 'The Convert'

There met one eve in a sylvan glade

A horrible Man and a beautiful maid.

“Where are you going, so meek and holy?”

“I’m going to temple to worship Crowley.”

“Crowley is God, then? How did you know?”

“Why, it’s Captain Fuller that told us so.”

“And how do you know that Fuller was right?”

“I’m afraid you’re a wicked man; Good-night.”

While this sort of thing is styled success

I shall not count failure bitterness.

I have no knowledge of Crowley's accent, and frankly there are English accents where 'owly' and 'holy' would only be distinguishable by the 'h' anyway. But this suggests that however the man himself pronounced 'holy' he thought it reasonable to rhyme his name with it.

Edit: I've not listened to it, but there apparently is a recording of Crowley reading several poems, not the Convert however, from which you may be able to get an idea of his own accent. I don't know if the word 'holy' appears in any of his readings, and apparently the quality is poor with many of the words being hard to distinguish. This link discusses it a little and links to the recordings. http://www.openculture.com/2016/10/aleister-crowley-reads-occult-poetry-in-the-only-known-recordings-of-his-voice-1920.html

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  • Thanks, that's definitive enough for me. There are other ditties about Crowley in which his name is rhymed with "holy" or "unholy", but none so clearly authored by him as this one. I found a claim that he was fond of introducing himself as "The name is Crowley, it rhymes with Holy. It isn't Crowley, that rhymes with foully." but with no evidence and even the claimer was uncertain. So "The Convert" seems the clearest proof.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 17:05
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    Incidentally, this method doesn't work for the pronunciation of Coleridge. In various verses he wrote, he rhymed his name with whole ridge, Polar ridge, and scholerage. See this note in Google books.
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 12:23

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