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Gerald Massey


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Gerald Massey

EDITER's NOTE: Background music by G. Massey 'A Night Song' (ca 1855); score (.zip, 600Kb)

(May 29, 1828 - October 29, 1907) was an English poet and self-taught Egyptologist. He was born near Tring, Hertfordshire in England.


Massey's parents were poor. When little more than a child, he was made to work hard in a silk factory, which he afterward deserted for the equally laborious occupation of straw plaiting. These early years were rendered gloomy by much distress and deprivation, against which the young man strove with increasing spirit and virility, educating himself in his spare time, and gradually cultivating his innate taste for literary work.

"Later, Gerald Massey influenced Alvin Boyd Kuhn a comparative religion scholar. During the later years of his life, (from about 1870 onwards) Massey became interested increasingly in Egyptology and the similarities that exist between ancient Egyptian mythology and the Gospel stories. He studied the extensive Egyptian records housed in the British Museum, eventually teaching himself to decipher the hieroglyphics." [1]

It has been stated that Massey, although he might have been considered a Christian Socialist, was in actuality a practicing druid, presumably a neo-druid. Not only that, Massey was elected Chosen Chief of the Most Ancient Order of Druids from 1880 through 1906. [2] This assessment contrasts strongly with the description of him quoted just below by a friend and colleague, who praised him for having thrown off the constraints of religion in favor of science and philosophy for the advancement of knowledge.

A New York publisher, D. M. Bernett, wrote of his friend in the second edition of The World's Sages, Thinkers and Reformers on page 967:

Gerald Massey is a warm-hearted, genial man, and as a companion and friend he has few superiors. His interests and incentives are decidedly in the direction of Science and Rationalism. He has many years been freed from the binding and blinding theological creeds and obligations. He regards priestcraft as one of the great evils which mankind for thousands of years have been compelled to endure and support; and regards it as one of the most important works that men of the present time can engage in to demolish the idols of the past dark ages; to liberate the mind from the dwarfing and blighting effect of pagan and Christian mythology and to dispense with the officious and expensive services of a designing, useless, aristocratic and wily priesthood. He most desires to see the human race advance in knowledge and truth and mental freedom, which science and philosophy imparts to the diligent investigator. He believes ignorance to be the Devil, Science the Savior of the world.[3]

Writing career

Massey's first public appearance as a writer was in connection with a journal called the Spirit of Freedom, of which he became editor, and he was only twenty-two when he published his first volume of poems, Voices of Freedom and Lyrics of Love (1850). These he followed in rapid succession with The Ballad of Babe Christabel (1854), War Waits (1855), Havelock's March (1860), and A Tale of Eternity (1869).

Many years afterward in 1889, Massey collected the best of the contents of these volumes, with additions, into a two-volume edition of his poems called My Lyrical Life. He also published works dealing with Spiritualism, the study of Shakespeare's sonnets (1872 and 1890), and theological speculation.

Massey's poetry has a certain rough and vigorous element of sincerity and strength which easily accounts for its popularity at the time of its production. He treated the theme of Sir Richard Grenville before Tennyson thought of using it, with much force and vitality. Indeed, Tennyson's own praise of Massey's work is still its best eulogy, for the Laureate found in him a poet of fine lyrical impulse, and of a rich half-Oriental imagination. The inspiration of his poetry is essentially British; he was a patriot to the core.

In regards to Egyptology, Massey first published The Book of the Beginnings, followed by The Natural Genesis. His most prolific work is Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World, published shortly before his death.[4] His work, which draws comparisons between the Judeo-Christian religion and the Egyptian religion, is largely unrecognised in the field of modern Egyptology and is not mentioned in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt or any other work of modern Egyptology.[5]

Some Works by Gerald Massey


The Secret Drama of  Shakspeare's Sonnets

Index to Massey's Poetry

Index to Massey's Prose

Gerald Massey: Chartist, Poet, Radical and Freethinker -  a biography by David Shaw

A Book of the Beginnings  (edition Jon Lange)

The Natural Genesis  (edition Jon Lange)

Ancient Egypt, The Light of the World  (edition Jon Lange)

Sheet music


EDITOR'S NOTE: We are interested in obtaining any books or papers by Gerald Massey. Please Email  us.

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Gerald   links Massey

Launched to coincide with the centenary of Gerald Massey's death in October 1907, this site is dedicated to all three of his major expository works, as well as his classic minor masterpiece, The Lectures, fully revised and complete.

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