COULD a Huddersfield man be one of Freemasonry's most important figures?
An academic thinks so - and is bringing solicitor Walter Leslie Wilmhurst's work to public attention again after it had been hidden for 70 years.
The newly-unearthed lost material belonged to the lawyer, known in his time as one of Freemasonry's greatest thinkers.
It has been held away from outside eyes in a closed collection in Leeds.
Now it is being published on the internet by Dr Robert Lomas, an academic at Bradford University's Management School.
He said: "It is bound to be of great interest to anyone who is conducting their own research into Freemasonry and to anybody who might wish to better understand the background to modern ritual."
Wilmshurst was born in Chichester in 1867 and died on a visit to London in 1929.
From the age of 21 until his death he practised law from an office in Kirkgate, Huddersfield.
In 1922, 33 years after being made a Mason in the Huddersfield Lodge (No. 290), he wrote a book called The Meaning of Masonry, expressing his thoughts and reflections on the Craft as he understood it.
Dr Lomas discovered that Wilmshurst's working notes and his private Masonic library, including his proof copy of The Meaning of Masonry, printed by Percy Lund, Humphries and Company, of Bradford, was stored in a closed collection in Headingley, north Leeds.
Dr Lomas has since been transferring a lot of this material into electronic form and making it available on his website.
He said: "Adding to this online collection has become a ritual for me now and while researching all Wilmhurst's published writings I have been transferring my research material into electronic form.
"The result is a new archive of many of his books and articles.
"I'm particularly excited about the papers he wrote for the Occult Review, which are little known but give great insight into his thinking."
The website contains three of Wilmshurst's most important Masonic books in full, as well as the complete text for articles he published in magazines.
It also shows Wilmshurst's own Tracing Board of the Centre, a Masonic diagram lost for decades.
Dr Lomas said: "Freemasonry has been much maligned over the last century, mainly through a lack of understanding about what it is and who belongs to it.
"This is due to a culture of secrecy that was born out of persecution during wartime."
Masons, along with many other groups, were targets of Nazi oppression and extermination. Freemasonry had been much more open until that time.
"I am trying to change this present culture and help people understand what Freemasonry is all about."
* Visit the website at www.brad ford.ac.uk/webofhiram