“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Theodore Illion, Tibet’s Secret Underground City and Selling the Occult

Posted: January 22nd, 2018 | No Comments »

Another little advert from the book pages of The Spectator in 1937…this one for Theodore Illion’s In Secret Tibet – yours for five shillings.


Illion is an interesting character – he claimed to have travelled to Tibet in the 1930s and discovered a vast underground city there – the secret in Secret Tibet. He later wrote a number of other books on Tibetan mysticism and traditional medicine – making great claims for both. IN Secret Tibet was originally published in German in 1936 and then in English in 1937. Illion is somewhat mysterious – claiming to have been born in Canada to a lost branch of the English Plantagenet royal family. Others say he was just a German obsessed with the occult and esoteric. He claimed to have lived undiscovered in Tibet – in disguise – and to have witnessed all manner of black magic (to be generous maybe he was there and saw shamans) and cannibalism all in this secret underground city that even above-ground Tibetans didn’t know!


The book was sold in England largely through William Rider and Son, a company that was formed in 1908 in London taking over the previous list of the occult publisher Phillip Wellby. They published everything from guides to tarot cards, cheaper edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Illion. Interestingly the Rider imprint still exists and is now part of Ebury, itself part of Penguin-Random House. Ridr still have a slight esoteric bent (a bit more palatable as New Age these days) and also publishes a range of stuff from Desmond Tutu to North Korean defectors…

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