Jacques Collin de Plancy (1793–1887) was a French Demonologist, occultist, and author. He was born Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy in 1793 in Plancy-l’Abbaye, France. He worked as a printer and publisher in Plancy-l’Abbaye and Paris. Between 1830 and 1837, he lived in Brussels; he then returned to France after practice of the Catholic religion was restored and lived there for the rest of his life. He died there in 1887. Interested in the occult and superstitions, Collin de Plancy wrote dozens of books under pseudonyms on divination, magic, alchemy, Sorcery, and Witchcraft. About 80 volumes alone were devoted to superstitions. Prolific, he earned a comfortable living.
His most famous, significant, and enduring work is the Dictionnaire Infernal, published under his real name in two volumes in 1818. The dictionary profiles Demons and gives short summaries of notable cases and trials of witchcraft and sorcery, as well as of ghosts and odd paranormal events. The dictionary went through several editions. In 1863, the artist Louis Breton created a set of 69 drawings, all but five of Demons. They were engraved by M. Jarrault, and Collin de Plancy added them to his book. Most of the engravings were republished in S. L. MacGregor Mathers’ The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon, his translation of a famous grimoire. The illustrated dictionary remains one of the classic works of Demonology.
Other notable works by Collin de Plancy are History of Phantoms and Demons That Have Appeared to Men (1819, under the pseudonym Gabrielle de Plancy); Dictionary of Madness and Reason (1820); The Devil’s Self Portrait, or a Collection of Short Stories and Tales about the Adventures and the Character of Demons, Their Machinations, Their Misfortunes, Their Love Affairs and the Services That They Have Been Able to Render to Men (1825); and Legends of the Seven Deadly Sins (1864).
- Collin de Plancy, Jacques. Dictionary of Witchcraft. Edited and translated by Wade Baskin. Originally published as Dictionary of Demonology. New York: Philosophical Library, 1965.