Lovecraft, Eddy and possibly Houdini’s Last Letter

Howard_Phillips_LovecraftCM EDDY JR

Lovecraft, Eddy and possibly Houdini’s Last Letter

According to Kalush:

In Providence, the next stop of the tour [Oct 4-9], Houdini and Bess went to dinner with H.P. Lovecraft and Clifford Eddy Jr.  Both men were working on a book for Houdini called “The Cancer of Superstition” but Eddy was also an undercover operative for Houdini, filing many field reports on his visits to fraudulent mediums.

Shortly after meeting with Eddy and Lovecraft, Bess was stricken with a non-specific form of poisoning, probably from food.  Houdini immediately summoned Sophie Rosenblatt, a nurse who had worked for the family previously; but by Friday, October 8, Bess’s condition had deteriorated so badly that Houdini stayed up all night comforting her.  She improved a little the next day, which was the last day of the run, so Houdini arranged for her and Sophie to leave straight for Albany, the next tour stop, while he took a late train to New York, where he had meetings scheduled for Sunday [Oct 10].

When the meetings concluded, he checked in with Rosenblatt in Albany and decided to postpone his train back. At some point after midnight, Houdini called his friend Joe Dunninger, the mentalist [to pick him up in the car]

“I’ve seen my house for the last time, Joe. I’ll never see my house again.

According to Koval:

  • Oct 4-9: Providence Opera House, Providence, RI
  • Oct 11-13: Capital Theatre in Albany.  Houdini suffers a broken ankle [Oct 11 according to Wissner]
  • Oct 14-16: Van Curler Theatre Schenectady, NY
  • Oct 18-23: Princess Theatre, Montreal, Canada”
  • Oct 22: Houdini is struck in stomach [and sends a letter to Mr. Eddy]
  • Oct 24 (only): Garrick Theatre, Detroit, MI  Houdini collapses after his show.
  • Oct 31:  Houdini dies

According to a short letter in Fred Pittella’s collection, dated October 22 and sent from Shubert-Princess Theatre to Mr. Eddy in Providence R.I.:

My dear Eddy:

On account of accident which has laid me up, I cannot do much writing.

Will answer in detail from Detroit.

Best wishes.

Sincerely yours, Houdini.

I find it interesting he uses the word “accident” and that “on account of accident“, Houdini can’t do much writing [about the Cancer book], but feels he will be able to “answer in detail from Detroit” where he was scheduled to perform at the Shubert-Garrick Theatre the weeks of October 24 and November 2nd.

Is he talking about the accident in Albany or Montreal?

Note: Houdini’s untimely death on October 31, 1926 derailed the plans for the Cancer of Superstition book, as his widow Bess did not wish to pursue the project.  That said, parts do survive.  In 1966, Lovecraft’s detailed synopsis for “The Cancer of Superstition” and “The Genesis of Superstition” part written by Eddy was first published.  Future posts will describe these and evidence of additional parts that survive.

Special Thank You to Fred Pittella for allowing me to share the contents of a historic letter dated Oct 22, 1926 from his personal collection.


  • Kalush – The Secret Life of Houdini
  • Koval – The Illustrated Research Diary
  • Pittella Collection – Letter from Houdini to Eddy dated October 22, 1926
  • Wissner – The Houdini Correspondence File


9 thoughts on “Lovecraft, Eddy and possibly Houdini’s Last Letter

  1. Good stuff. I believe the “accident” he’s talking about is the USD broken ankle, this is what still has him “laid up.”

    Wild to have a letter written on the day of the punch. Wonder if it was written pre or post punch.

    • Thanks John!
      He definitely refers to the USD broken ankle that happened 11 days earlier as an accident in letters he wrote on October 14, 1926 from Van Curler’s Theatre, Schenectady, NY.
      If the letter was written post punch, that would be wild. But he feels he will be able to answer in detail when he is in Detroit, so…

  2. Great stuff Joe! I agree with John that the accident refers to the October 11-13 ankle injury. I believe that HH dictated one or more letters from his bed at Grace Hospital. The letter mentioned something about HH feeling wavy and that he would get over it soon.

    • Thanks Leo! On Saturday, October 30th, he composed a letter to a friend named Thomas: “Box offices here are S.R.O. which certainly makes me smug and quite happy. Except that I feel none too well at the moment, but suppose that I will get over this waviness in no time”. This is possibly the last letter Houdini wrote.

  3. Bada bing Joe! Can you tell me where this hospital letter is located? I don’t see it in Wayne Wissner’s book The Houdini Correspondence File.

    One day before the end and HH is confident that he will pull through. Oh man.

    • The letter is located in the Don Bell archives, which is available at the Conjuring Arts Research Center.
      I hear ya! Little did HH know what “no time” really meant.

    • Unfortunately, it is not in Bell’s book and not available online; it would only be available at the Conjuring Arts Research Center.

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