Leonard R. N. Ashley, Ph.D. (Princeton), LHD (Columbia Theological, Hon.), is Professor Emeritus of Brooklyn College of The City University of New York, where he taught for nearly thirty-five years. He was earlier on the faculties of The University of Utah, The University of Rochester, and (part time) The New School for Social Research. He spent several years in The Royal Canadian Air Force where, as second assistant to The Air Historian, he wrote (for NORAD) the top-secret report on The Air Defence of North America. He has published extensively on literary onomastics (how names function in imaginative writing).
His published works range from military history (collaboration on A Military History of Modern China, authorship of Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not” Book of The Military) and critical biography (Colley Cibber and George Peele) to literary history (Authorship and Evidence in Renaissance Drama and Elizabethan Popular Culture) and linguistics (What’s in a Name? and co-editorship of the proceedings of conferences he directed for The American Society of Geolinguistics – of which he has been repeatedly elected president since 1991). He is the author of numerous textbooks and anthologies such as Other People’s Lives, Mirrors for Man, Nineteenth-Century British Drama, and Tales of Mystery and Melodrama. Recently he has written a series of ten books on the occult published by Barricade Books (New York) and reprinted by several British publishers and in Dutch and German translations. These books are: The Complete Book of Superstition, Prophecy, and Luck; The Complete Book of Magic and Witchcraft; The Complete Book of Devils and Demons; The Complete Book of the Devil’s Disciples; The Complete Book of Spells, Curses, and Magical Recipes; The Complete Book of Vampires; The Complete Book of Werewolves; The Complete Book of Dreams and What They Mean; and The Complete Book of Sex Magic. He has published poetry in more than 60 “little magazines” and anthologies, more than 150 scholarly articles in journals, especially Names (the journal of The American Name Society, to whose executive board he has been continually re-elected for two decades and of which society he has been twice elected president). His regular chronique, reviewing books on The Renaissance, has been for more than twenty years a feature of Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance (Geneva). His Dictionary of Sex Slang, in preparation for more than twenty years, is now in press. He has contributed to a great many standard works on literature such as Freedley & Reeves’ History of the Theatre, the series Great Writers of the English Language, Readers Guide to World Drama, Reference Guide to American Literature, Encyclopedia USA, Encyclopedia of British Humorists, Encyclopedia of British Women Writers, Dictionary of Literary Biography, New Dictionary of National Biography, and other reference books. He has edited The Reliques of Irish Poetry, The Ballad Poetry of Ireland, Shakespeare’s Jest Book, and other works and recently written on topics ranging from the diaries of Anaïs Nin (in Anaïs: An International Journal) to Victorian literature for boys (his George Alfred Heny and the Victorian Mind), from articles in journals on Hamlet to the ethics of book reviewing.
Names in Literature has companion volumes from this author called Names in Popular Culture, Art Attack: Essays on Names in Satire, and Names of Places. As the ten volumes on the occult add up to a kind of encyclopedia of that subject, so the four books on names mentioned here add up to a set on the science of onomomastics to go along with Ashley’s general survey of the whole field (What’s in a Name?, 1989, revised 1995). Forthcoming from him are more on names (specialized books respectively on the placenames of Cornwall, Mexico, and Turkey, designed for travelers in those areas) and a major book on Scandinavian folklore (with Ola J. Holten), years in preparation.
His latest book collects his geolinguistic essays in Language and Modern Society, published by Wisdom House in the UK, the US, and India.