Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Seance in Hanover Square

Eva C. producing ectoplasm
In June 1920 Houdini attended a series of eight seances with the famous French medium Martha Beraud a.k.a. "Eva C." Eva's specialty was producing ectoplasm, a gooey or gauze-like substance excreted by a medium from various body orifices during a trance. The seances were held at 20 Hanover Square in central London, rented for the occasion by the Society for Psychical Research.

The first seance, held June 18, produced nothing. But during the subsequent seances, Eva C. produced ectoplasm from her mouth. It later vanished in her hands.

Houdini told Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a great supporter of Eva C., that he found the sittings "highly interesting." However, in his diary, Houdini wrote that Eva C. had clearly "sleight-of-handed" the substance into her mouth. Later he elaborated in his book, A Magician Among the Spirits, that Eva employed the same technique that he used during his own East Indian Needles Trick. "I know positively that the move she made is almost identical with the manner in which I manipulate my experiment."

20 Hanover Square still exists today, and last month reader Andrew Beer, our man in London, took these photos outside the house. No ectoplasm in sight.

Thank you Andrew. We love this stuff!


  1. Hi John, good morning. Of all the books on Houdini is there one you'd recommend relating to the afterlife and his knowledge of it?

    Sorry to bother you so much but another thing I'm wondering about is all I ever read about is failed seances and sightings in Laurel Canyon mentioned as bs. I haven't found anything about sightings here in Harlem or anything at all from a serious person with an experience. I am looking for information on similar experiences and can't find anthing.


    1. Certainly one of the best books about his relationship to Spiritualism, if that's what you're talking about, is the new book, 'Houdini and Conan Doyle' by Christopher Sandford. There's also Houdini's own book, 'A Magician Among the Spirits', but you might find Sandford more readable.

      I've never heard anything about any ghostly sighting of Houdini at 278. There have been seances held there, but no positive results, as far as I know.

    2. That is what has me thinking. All this talk about ghosts and spiritualism and I'm the only one?

      Every once in a while I'll see a guy with a houdinilike build in front of his house with his shirt off stretching. Not proud like the guys you see at the gym but more how you'd think of Houdini's way about him. Lol yes kind of stupid but I thought it was interesting just because of the way about him.

      I walk by his house at least twice a day so I'll keep you updated on any other strange happenings.

      ps There I know there is at least one Houdini fanatic in the neighborhood because one of the networks I pick up with my router is named Houdini:)

    3. Hey, maybe the router is picking up his ghost! EVPs and all that. :)

  2. Hi, John. What are your sources for Houdini's two different descriptions of his experience: the one to Doyle, and the one in his diary. Kalush and Sandford?

    1. Oh boy. This post was a long time ago and I can't remember. Could have been Silverman, Sandford, or Kalush (in that order).