While doing some research on Houdini, I came across the following:
Besides being conceded to be the king of escape artists, Houdini has gained considerable recognition as a writer. Of all his hobbies, his books are his foremost. He has written many published books, including two series of Children’s Goodnight Stories, one printed in McClure’s Magazine and the other in the New York World; “The Unmasking of Robert Houdin”, a book on magic; a number of Christmas stories, published in England and several other volumes. For two years, he was the editor of The Conjurer, the magician’s magazine. [June 1919 Photo-Play Journal page 45]
I was particularly intrigued by the reference about two series of Children’s Goodnight Stories written by Harry Houdini, one printed in McClure’s Magazine and the other in the New York World.
A quick check of Houdini Strange Tales by Patrick Culliton and you will find at least one of the two series of children’s good night stories. That is, you will find the story of “Bahl Yahn the Strong Man” which was first published in the May 28, 1907 edition of the New York Sunday World.
But what about the other series that is supposed to be printed in McClure’s Magazine. The good news is that all of the volumes of McClure’s Magazine are searchable and available online. The bad news is that despite an extensive search and individual review of each volume, I could not find one story written by Harry Houdini in McClure’s Magazine. So what does this mean? Either, it was published anonymously (under a pen name) or it never appeared in McClure’s Magazine.
FWIW, I did find “The Crackajack Story” by Harold Kellock in the November 1909 issue of McClure’s Magazine. Harold Kellock was the author of “Houdini His Life Story from the recollections and documents of Beatrice Houdini” published in 1928.
Upon further searching, I found the following on page 57 of The Adventurous Life of a Versatile Artist: Houdini:
THE LITERARY HOUDINI
As is the case with many great men, the gift of being able to do many things, and do each thing well, is Houdini’s, who besides his achievements as a mystifier has also won wide recognition as an author. That is he has found time to write a great deal is attested by his list of books, namely, “Miracle Mongers and Their Methods,” “The Unmasking of Robert Houdin,” The Sane Side of Spiritualism,” “The Right Way to do Wrong,” “Magic Made Easy,” “My Training and my Tricks,” “Paper Prestidigitation,” “Handcuff Secrets,” “Magical Rope Ties and Escapes,” “Good Night Stories for Children,” “Dan Cupid the Magician” (a series) and “Magicians’ Romances”. Numerous magazine articles and stories swell his literary output to greater proportions. Editor for two years on standard work of magic, “The Conjurors Magazine.”
So it is possible that “Dan Cupid the Magician” may be the other series, but it was published in the Boston Evening Record (April 16, 1908) as opposed to McClure’s Magazine. You can read the story in Houdini Strange Tales by Patrick Culliton. According to Mr. Culliton, “Dan Cupid the Magician is an unabashedly sentimental and romantic little story about a struggling young magician and the society girl with whom he falls in love.”
While, I didn’t find an unknown series of goodnight children’s stories by Harry Houdini, I did find out a lot more about the literary Houdini.
While searching for stories by Harry Houdini, I came across the August 1904 issue of the British monthly Wide World magazine that included “A One-Night Engagement” complete with illustrations and the infamous 1904 photo of Houdini:
Note: This story also appears in Patrick Culliton’s Houdini’s Strange Tales without the photo and illustrations. According to Mr. Culliton, “while it was presented as a personal experience, it was almost entirely fictitious”.
Click on the pages below to read the rest of the story and see the illustrations with captions.