Rare Finds

Found: Lovecraft-Houdini Manuscript

Whispered about by hopeful collectors and scholars for decades, the manuscript of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Cancer of Superstition, commissioned and co-written by magician Harry Houdini, has finally come to light. It was rather incredibly “discovered by a private collector among the records of a now-defunct magic shop,” according to Chicago’s Potter & Potter Auctions, which will auction the 31-page typewritten story on April 9.


In the manuscript, the sci-fi master and the magician delve into ancient and modern superstitions, writing about werewolves, cannibals, and black magic, and advancing a “primitivist theory of the development of superstition.” The proposed book-length project came to a halt when Houdini unexpectedly died in 1926 at the age of 52. Prior to this discovery, only an outline and part of a first chapter were known to exist.

Potter & Potter will open the bidding at $13,000, although it is estimated to make $25,000-40,000.

The two-part auction of Houdiniana and the Davenport Magic Collection will also feature personal scrapbooks annotated by Houdini, rare photos and posters of him, handcuffs, keys, autographs, lock picks, and original film footage. An archive of early correspondence to Houdini from the vaudeville impresario Martin Beck, who helped transform Houdini into the “Handcuff King,” is another highlight.
                                                                                                                                                                             Image Courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions.

Browse related collectible books:

Houdiniana: books and ephemera

Signed H. P. Lovecraft Books

Reprinted with permission from Fine Books & Collections, Rebecca Rego Barry, author

Get a discounted subscription to Fine Books & Collections on Biblio!

Sign up for the Fine Books & Collections free email newsletter.


  • Land sakes alive I’d love to at these sheets to my HPL collection – that’d beat any name whatever Arkham House edition you care to name to pieces.

  • The Cancer of Superstition was written by author C. M. Eddy, Jr. from an outline/notes provided by Lovecraft. Eddy was a ghostwriter and investigator for Houdini.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top