Beginning in 1908 he was a rubber planter, first in Borneo and then in Malaya. After 1923 he held civil service posts as a government inspector in Malaya. In 1936, at the age of 52, he retired to England. He published an authoritative text, Keris and other Malay Weapons (1936), based on his field research into southeast Asian weapons and magical practices.
Apparently on medical advice, he took up naturism on his return to England, and also pursued his interest in the occult. Through the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship he claims to have met a family of traditional witches and these, he says, initiated him into the craft in 1939.
He published two works of fiction, A Goddess Arrives (1939) and High Magic's Aid (1949). These were followed by his purportedly-factual works, Witchcraft Today (1954) and The Meaning of Witchcraft (1959).
Gerald Gardner's work is the subject of some controversy, but recent exhaustive research has shown that his story is indeed plausible, if not verifiable.