Monday, May 11, 2020

"Houdini's School Days"

No sooner do I post about "The Amazing Exploits of Houdini" than comes an eBay auction which reveals the existence of yet another series of fictionalized Houdini tales in a UK magazine. This time it's "Houdini's School Days" in Merry and Bright. The auction is for a bound volume of stories from 9/18/1920 to 4/16/1921. I'm not sure if this is the complete run or if these went on until Houdini's demise as did "Amazing Exploits."

The opening price is a whopping $9,900, so I'm not sure who can afford to add this to their collection. (It has cycled once unsold already.) But I'm excited to learn about this series and grateful for the pics.

1920-1921 "Merry and Bright - The Favorite Comic" was published in London and cost three halfpence English coins. Merry & Bright comics, featuring "Houdini's Schooldays", was 8 pages of newsprint published every Thursday. This book contains 30 publications from 9/18/1920 thru 4/16/1921. Harry Houdini signed the first page as he did on most of the books in his collection. These comics include both amusing illustrations and short fictional stories. Being Houdini's grand nephew myself, I feel lucky to have been the caretaker of this book for 50 years. My grandmother (Bess Houdini's sister) gave it to me when I was 18 years old. In 1999 two of Houdini's niece's and his nephew all signed a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attesting to the authenticity of this book. A well known American magician has 2 of these Merry and Bright books. The outer red covering has some stains as it was often on the coffee table in my grandparents (Houdini's brother-in-law and sister-in-law) apartment.

Before you ask, no, I don't know who this particular grand nephew is. But I know it isn't John Hinson, so I'm guessing this is the Blood side of the family (maybe Jeff Blood?).



  1. According to this thesis - :

    "Two years before The Kinema Comic’s ‘Amazing Exploits’, its companion paper Merry and Bright had responded to the interest aroused by Houdini’s 1920 visit to England by giving its readers Houdini’s Schooldays as their weekly serial.

    In Merry and Bright’s version, however, the boy Houdini was not Erich Weiss, the rabbi’s son from Budapest, growing up impoverished in America; he was a cricket playing, boater-wearing fine young fellow at Rathgar College. He was in fact Will Holt, Allingham’s Duffer, with the Dufferish-ness reduced a fraction and the agility played up. Only a few new sentences and occasional descriptors were needed to make this happen and, apart from such small manipulations, Houdini’s Schooldays was simply the fourth printing of the story that Allingham had first written in 1904 for Aldine’s True Blue.

    1. Ah, excellent, thank you! Great info.

      Looks like this author believes Amazing Exploits started in 1922. But like School Days, it started in 1920.

  2. Hello John - you guessed right that is my Ebay post for the Merry & Bright book that belonged to Houdini. Very few of these newsprint books exist and this one has signature "Harry Houdini" on the inside cover. After caring for this book for 50 years it is time I allowed another Houdini collector to own and enjoy it as much as our family has. Jeffrey Blood, Grand Nephew of Houdini

    1. Thanks Jeff! It's a treasure. Good luck with it.