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?


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

  • 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
    Dec 20 '19 at 17:05

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