Art Academy of Cincinnati professor enjoys second fellowship at Lloyd Library


This summer, Ken Henson has spent his time in the stacks of Lloyd Library preparing a classic novel, Etidorpha, for republication as part of the Curtis G. Lloyd Fellowship.

Henson, an associate professor and the head of illustration at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, received his master's degree in painting from the University of Cincinnati

Henson is no stranger to the Curtis G. Lloyd Fellowship. When he first became a fellow during the 2013-14 academic year, he studied the Renaissance alchemy and magic books at the Lloyd Library, which helped him write and illustrate his book, Alchemy and Astral Projection: Ecstatic Trance in the Hermetic Tradition.

This time around, Henson is preparing a new edition of John Uri Lloyd's novel Etidorpha, which was originally published in 1895. The new edition is set to be published this fall by Bootstrap Press, which is located in Oakland.

Etidorpha is considered one of the first psychedelic novels, and has commonly fallen into the genre of science fiction. Henson has been combing through the archives of the Lloyd Library, where he has been scanning and transcribing previously unpublished material and writing a new introduction for the book.

"I've been reading letters to Lloyd from several famous 19th century occultists, which have helped me piece together his beliefs, and will help form the introduction I'm writing for this new edition of Etidorpha," Henson says.

Henson has examined all of the editions of the book — as well as the original manuscript — to prepare for piecing together the new edition. In doing so, he has discovered an unpublished chapter that was cut due to its horrifying nature.

The new edition will also include scanned original drawings and paintings done by former AAC student and professor John Augustus Knapp — some of which are owned by Lloyd Library and others made available by Knapp's surviving family. 

"It sort of brings the story full circle," Henson says. "I'm working on this project not just because of my interests in magic and mysticism, but also because Knapp taught at the same school, and I want to keep his memory alive."

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