Newly Discovered H.P. Lovecraft Manuscript About Superstition to be Sold At Auction

Posted on March 18, 2016

H.P. Lovecraft manuscript about superstition

Potter & Potter Auctions of Chicago is auctioning off a long lost manuscript by H.P. Lovecraft that he was commissioned to write by famed magician and escape artist Harry Houdini. Lovecraft scholars are familiar with the outline of the book and the first chapter, but this is he first time that this extended manuscript has been found.

In 1926 Houdini asked Lovecraft to ghostwrite the book about superstition though the ages. Houdini died later that year and the book was never published. The manuscript was found amidst a collection of memorabilia which was housed in a magic shop, which has since closed. Houdini's wife Beatrice kept the manuscript with other papers and after her death in 1943 they eventually made their way to the magic shop.

Gabe Fajuri,the president of Potter & Potter, purchased the manuscript from a private seller who had only recently been inventorying the memorabilia cache. The manuscript, which goes on sale April 9th, contains three parts entitled, "The Genesis of Superstition," "The Expansion of Superstition," and "The Fallacy of Superstition." The auction house expects to garner between $25,000-$40,000. The opening bid is $13,000.

The Guardian throws some cold water on the exciting find by quoting Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi. He claims that the manuscript was actually written by C.M. Eddy, a friend of Lovecraft's. Joshi says that the outline and first chapter were published in a 1966 book called The Dark Brotherhood and Other Pieces and in that book Lovecraft is credited with the outline and Eddy with the chapters, which were then edited and revised by Lovecraft. In any event, it appears Lovecraft had a great deal to do with the book, which Houdini was going to use to help debunk spiritualism and superstition.

Mr. Fajuri told The Guardian, "The manuscript deepens the debate over the legacies of two figures whose popularity rested on playing to both sides of their audience’s curiosity over issues including spiritualism, supernaturalism, the real and the unreal." He noted that both men were quite engaged in what they called a "campaign against superstition" in the general populace. They both believed that superstitions are just leftover relics of a common "prehistoric ignorance."

Other items being auctioned off include Houdini's personal scrapbooks, photos, poster, handcuffs. autographs, lockpicks, and film footage. Detailed personal letters from the promoter who helped Houdini in his career are also being sold. The bidding will take place at Invaluable.com.

Photo: Potter & Potter Auctions