Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Houdini's lost autobiograhy

The Voisin biplane, the Margery Box, the transcribed Mama letters... These are all famous lost Houdini artifacts that would cause a sensation if ever discovered. But what about Houdini's lost autobiography? The following appears in the 1976 book Houdini: A Pictorial Life by Milbourne Christopher:

"Among Houdini's many unfinished projects was a illustrated autobiography. Pictures taken during his travels were to have been included. After losing the first draft of the text, he never found time to complete it."

Wild to think that at some point in time there was at least the first draft of a Houdini autobiography. Certainly this would be a fascinating read. How would Houdini himself tell his own story? And what are the circumstances of its loss? It's a shame Christopher doesn't give an approximate year.

If anyone has any additional info on this, drop a comment below, and let's add the Houdini Autobiography to the list of lost Houdini treasures.

Related:

15 comments:

  1. I know where his personal copy of THE UNMASKING of ROBERT HOUDIN
    is. In it, he with Oscar Teal make corrections to the text to turn it into a
    biography of magic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you mean a copy of the book or his original manuscript? Either way, that's pretty special. Also evidence -- the first I've heard -- that he might have regretted his original approach to the subject.

      Delete
  2. AFAIK, the Tao of Houdini is the closest thing to a Houdini autobiography that exists.

    ReplyDelete
  3. THE UNMASKING of ROBERT HOUDIN, is Houdinis personal copy.
    On almost every page there are note by both him and Teale, correcting
    the mistakes, and turning it into an in depth history of magic

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. Very nice. I'm sure it has a proud owner.

      Delete
  4. Didn't Houdini keep a diary? What are the chances of that ever being published?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He certainly did, and I believe the vast majority of them are privately owned. I don't see them being published any time soon. According to Ken Silverman, access to them is limited.

      Delete
  5. WRT Houdini Autobiographical Notes made late in 1909, see the chapter “About Houdini” on page 196 of Houdini’s Fabulous Magic by Walter B. Gibson

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Joe. It's funny, I've been meaning to pull that book down and have a re-read because I want to do a post about it. "The best forgotten Houdini book." There a lot of gold in that book, but it's one that doesn't get much mention.

      Delete
  6. Coincidentally had this book pulled out from the shelf for some reading before this blog post. It's an old 1961 edition and it contains a chapter on the USD. I remember purchasing a later 1970s paperback edition in my teens that did not contain this chapter. That copy went missing many years ago.

    Interesting that the authors included a small tutorial on shimmying ratchet handcuffs. I love the way they quote Ellis Stanyon's observations of HH's presentations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really? The only paperback of this book I know of is the 1977 Barns and Nobel edition and that does have the USD chapter. Did the cover look like THIS?

      Delete
  7. Yes! That's the paperback edition I once owned. I seem to remember looking for the chapter on the USD in that book. I must have confused this book with Gibson's Houdini's Escapes. I know that book did not include the USD and that left me a bit disappointed.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have a hard cover copy of Houdinis Fabulus Magic. It's the first book that I remember concerning Houdini that actually reveals his "secrets".

    ReplyDelete
  9. If we can, let's hold off our conversation about Fabulous Magic because I'm prepping whole post about the book. Will have it up this week.

    ReplyDelete

Translate

Contact Me

Name

Email *

Message *

Receive updates via email