Saturday, January 20, 2007

Houdini and Lovecraft: Testimony of Muriel Eddy (1961) Part 4

When HPL first met C M Eddy (we speculate about August 1923, though they corresponded prior) he was surprised by their East Providence condition. With two children, they lived in deep poverty. He stated, "I fancy poor Eddy will take much furniture off your hands - heaven knows he needs it, for his barren dump is the most meagre and destitute place I ever beheld! I must write him shortly, and attend to some of his manuscripts which I promised to revise. The longer I wait, the busier I'll be; hence early attention means best results!"

This echoes a pericope from the 1961 memoir by Muriel Eddy, " ...H.P.L. at this time was bogged down with countless revisions to do for people via mail...".

At some point, C M Eddy and harry Houdini made a contract for Eddy to research spiritualists. We read:

My husband spent some time investigating Spiritualism at Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, for Harry Houdini, and when he came back home with much data about some of the mediums he’d met, Lovecraft came over to see us and seemed much interested in the subject. He scoffed at the idea of communion with the dead, and said that, in his opinion, death was the absolute end.

Here, Muriel Eddy mildly implicates Lovecraft. If the statement is true - and external evidence indicates that C M Eddy did work for Houdini and research mediums - then HPL did discuss the fraud and was incensed. This rings true.

For his entire life, Lovecraft advanced an atheistic materialism, a purely scientific way of seeing the world (with the exception of his racist streak), often attacked in writing astrology and superstition, and we know he worked on the Cancer of Superstition for Houdini with C M Eddy. Frank Belkanp Long in his 1977 memoir tells a story of how Lovecraft debated him - in a cemetery - that there were no such things as ghosts. Upon appearance of a wisp in the shape of a specter, Lovecraft scoffed and deconstructed the incident as an optical illusion coupled by imagination. (2)

The latest book on Houdini states that C M Eddy not only spied on mediums but filed field reports.

1. The Gentleman From Angell Street: Memories of H. P. Lovecraft, Muriel E. Eddy & C. M. Eddy, Jr., ed. Jim Dyer, Fenham Publishing, Narangasett, R.I., 2001. “The Gentleman From Angell Street”, Muriel Eddy, 1961.
2. Frank Belknap Long, Dreamer on the Night Side, 1975, pp. 148 & Chapter 17, pp. 192-197 (a ghost at Newburyport cemetery) and pp. 198-203 (Morton, Long and Lovecraft see "3 witches" at the Bernard Cloisters".
3. The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero, "Kalush & Sloman, 2006, p. 502 online footnotes at

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