The child who denounced her father

Lola Zaza Crowley was the daughter of Aleister Crowley and his wife, Rose Edith Kelly, who married in 1903. She was lucky to come away with a reasonably respectable name given her older sister was named Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith Crowley. But Lola would never know her sister. Lilith died in 1906, and Lola was born the year after and was named after Crowley’s mistress.

By now, her mother had become a severe alcoholic, and Lola was a sickly child, possibly due to fetal alcohol syndrome. Rose divorced Crowley around 1910, but she was spiraling into alcohol-fuelled dementia. She had gained custody of Lola after the divorce but was unable to care for her. Crowley had her institutionalized in 1911, and she would later die in 1932.

The strangest of fathers

Aleister Crowley, occultist, magician, and author and founded the religion of Thelema. He was renowned for his drug use, his bisexuality, and his views on social structure. His use of sex rituals and sex magick led to him being denounced during his life-time.

As he rose to fame, the press dubbed him ‘the beast,’ ‘the wickedest man in the world,’ and labeled him as a satanist. Although his practices were dubious, Crowley was a leading figure in Western esotericism. He wrote The Book of the Law, a central text of the Thelema religion, which he said was dictated to him by an entity named Aiwass. Rose also contributed to the book.

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Crowley noted when Lola was born that she was a sickly baby, and at three weeks old, she had nearly died of bronchitis. He had provided oxygen so his new daughter could breathe more easily and wrote in his diary ‘So Lola Zaza lives today. May her life prove worth the pains I took to preserve it.’

After his wife Rose was institutionalized, it doesn’t appear that he gave his daughter Lola a home. Given her father’s notoriety, it was probably for the best. One of his biographers noted that Crowley was “capable of immense physical and emotional cruelty.” He died on December 1, 1947, due to chronic bronchitis, and he became a cult figure after his death.

Living her life

Little is known about Lola’s early years or where she ended up staying. Her grandparents may have taken her in for a time, but she eventually came to live with her uncle Gerald Kelly, who had no love for her father. Crowley had other children by his mistresses. Still, there is no record of them having contact with each other, nor is there any record of Lola continuing a relationship with Aleister Crowley.

There shared an awkward meeting when she was 14 after which Crowley wrote about her in his diary ‘Lola Zaza is unmanageable. She despises everybody, thinks she is a genius, is stupid, inaccurate, plain, ill-tempered, etc. etc.’ Neither Lola or her uncle liked her father.

Crowley was “capable of immense physical and emotional cruelty.”

Instead, Lola shunned the notoriety that went with her father’s name and lived a private life. She had no known connections with the Thelema religion nor the occult. She became a nursery governess and refused ever to meet her father again, even when he tried to contact her.

On June 9, 1934, she married a man named Frank Hill in Paddington, London, and they had a daughter, Elizabeth. She lived a long life, despite her ill health at the start, and died on March 9, 1990, in Reading, Berkshire, at the age of 84. She had long forgotten her connection to the man they called the Beast.

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