Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Houdini and Lovecraft: Testimony of Muriel Eddy (1961) Part 1

In the pursuit of whether Harry Houdini pursued Lovecraft to assist with espionage on spiritualists, our attention continues to focus on Clifford M. Eddy, Jr. How did Lovecraft meet C M Eddy? The answer is far from clear.

Muriel Eddy wrote two memoirs of Lovecraft - one in 1945 and the other in 1961. The latter mentions Houdini and how the Eddys met Lovecraft. S T Joshi questions the historicity of the claims.

He states (1) , "The first memoir seems on the whole quite reliable; the second, written in a gushing and histrionic manner makes many statements not found in the first, including the claim {that Susan Lovecrat and Grace Eddy (CM's mother) met at a suffrage group meeting}. ... I am frankly sceptical of it. ... Lovecraft does not .... mention the Eddy's in correspondence prior to October 1923 at which time he refers to Eddy as 'the new Providence amateur'. (2) My feeling, then, is that the whole story {about the early connections} is a fabrication, made by Muriel so as to augment the sense of her and her husband's importance in Lovecraft's life."

This does not gain Mr. Joshi points with the Eddy family. However, when the veracity of of one element of a memoir is claimed to be apocryphal, we must tread cautiously with all of it.

So, in this series of posts, we will explore the testimony of Muriel Eddy for insight for evidence that HPL might have been persued by Houdini for more than revisionist writing and scholarly conversation. Did Lovecraft meet Houdini (directly or indirectly) through Eddy and Henneberger?

1 A Dreamer and a Visionary: H. P. Lovecraft And His Time, S T Joshi, Liverpool University Press, 2001. p. 172,173.
2. Ibid. p. 401, quoting from a letter from HPL to Frank Belknap Long of 7 October 1923. Original citation Select Letters I.254
3. The premier Lovecraft scholar, Joshi, states (1), "C. M. Eddy was already a professionally published author by this time ... working on stories to submit to Weird tales {and already knew} Edwin Baird. Therefore we are safe to say that C M Eddy - who knew Edwin Baird and probably J C Henneberger - had a possoble peripheral connection to Houdini prior to meeting Lovecraft in person.

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