Netflix’s ‘Lockwood and Co’ is set in a world where ghosts have become an epidemic. They are everywhere and their mere touch can kill a person. The only ones who can fight them are the teens who have the talent to sense their presence. Lucy is one of them. She arrives in London with the hopes of joining a top-notch ghost-hunting agency but ends up working with two boys who have only recently started their own agency. Together, they take on many dangerous cases, one of whom relates to an occultist called Edmund Bickerstaff.
They are called in to contain the source of his ghost so that his grave can be dug up properly. However, one simple mistake leads to a such terrible turn of events that there is no way back left for Lockwood and Co. For all the trouble that the ghost causes, one can’t help but wonder if such a person could have existed in real life. If you are wondering whether Bickerstaff is based on a real person, then we’ve got you covered.
Was Edmund Bickerstaff a Real Occultist?
No, Edmund Bickerstaff is not based on a real occultist. He is an original character created by Jonathan Stroud for his fictional book series ‘Lockwood and Co’, which serves as the source material for the Netflix series. In the books, Bickerstaff was a doctor who got entangled with the occult and became obsessed with finding out what comes after death. He dug up graves from the cemetery and performed experiments on living people. He was, all in all, a very evil person.
Stroud hasn’t confirmed whether he based the character on a real occultist, but it’s clear that he was inspired by the stories relating to the practitioners of occultism. He used that knowledge, exaggerated it a little bit, and created this character who was scary in life as well as in death. Speaking of occultists, the name that immediately comes to mind is Aleister Crowley. Arguably the most infamous occultist, Crowley was once called “the wickedest man in the world”. Born Edward Crowley, he came from a wealthy family and found himself taking a very different approach to the world in his early years. Reportedly, his thoughts and behavior led his mother to call him “the beast”.
He later took Aleister as his first name and dived into the philosophy of life and death, which marked his entry into the world of the occult. He is said to have become a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a secret society that is known to have members like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and W.B Yeats. Eventually, Crowley left the Golden Dawn and ended up starting his own religion, Thelema. Following this, his reputation grew and it was alleged that he was a Satanist and was involved in some very nasty business.
Crowley ran the Abbey of Thelema, where he lived with his followers, who knew him as a prophet. The abbey was eventually closed when one of the followers died there and his wife sued Crowley for making him, and the others, eat and drink stuff that was unhealthy and deadly. In addition to this, Crowley is also believed to have killed seven people, who were involved in the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun. According to the historian, Mark Beynon, “the deaths were all ritualistic killings masterminded by Crowley” whose “diaries, essays and books and inquest reports” after a detailed analysis argue that “he was a Jack the Ripper-obsessed copycat killer” and “it is likely that he would have found [British archaeologist Howard Carter]’s excavation sacrilegious.”
In summation, Crowley is considered one of the most influential figures in the world of the occult, which means that there is a chance that Jonathan Stroud might have used some aspects of his life and personality to create the character of Edmund Bickerstaff. So, even though Bickerstaff is fictional, it is clear that the author researched real-life occultists and incorporated those elements into his fictional character.
Read More: Is Lockwood and Co Based on a True Story or a Book?