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The STORY of A STRANGE FRIENDSHIP • he curious narrative describing the relationship between the leading exponent of Spiritualism and his foremost opponent

BERNARD M . I . UPWARD €AR!

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wanted to helieve in spiritualism, Inil he coidd not. Conan Uoyle devoted to the camof spiritualism all the money an fame he got out of Sherlock Holmes lit- cared more about spiritualism tlui. about anything else in the world. These men had diametrically opposite views on the subject which meant most to them; yet they were friends and mutual admirers, and they kept up for many mouths the correspondence on which this hook is based. They wrote mostly about the subject nearest their hearts.

Doyle arranged

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ASK ALEXAI-CER

HOUDINI AND CONAN DOYLE

The authors wish to acknowledge with thanks the courtesy of the publishers in permitting quotations from the following works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: The Edge of the Unknown, G. P. Putnam's Sons; Memories and Adventures, Little, Brown & Company; Our American Adventure, Doubleday, Doran and Company.

CONAN DOYLE AND HOUDINI

HOITDINI AND CONAN DOYLE THE STORY OF A STRANGE FRIENDSHIP

BY

BERNARD M.L.ERNST PRESIDENT OF THE PARENT ASSEMBLY OF THE SOCIETY O F AMERICAN MAGICIANS

AND

HEREWARD CARRINGTON MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH

ALBERT AND CHARLES BONI, INC. NEW YORK

COPYRIGHT, 1932, BY BERNARD M. L. ERNST

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMEEICA

THE HOUDINI-DOYLE CORRESPONDENCE

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini were household names throughout the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the one primarily for his tales of Sherlock Holmes, the other for his remarkable escapes from jails and restraints of every variety. Both men were outstanding characters of pronounced strength and individuality. Both men became, during the latter years of their lives, profoundly interested in Spiritualism and the subject of spiritreturn. Yet from what different standpoints! Houdini, in his varied experiences, seemed to have encountered nothing but fraud and trickery. Doyle asserted, on the contrary, "I KNOW spirit-return to be a fact." The direct issue! Reading their correspondence, one cannot but be struck by the earnestness of both men, so opposed in thought. Their letters show this. They also show the admiration each man had for the otlierâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;surely one of the most curious friendships in history! &OTH

These Titans met in battle. Each man had a silent army behind him, urging him on: those who believe in a spiritual world, and those who do not; those who are personally and profoundly convinced, and those who believe not at all. The world owes both these men a debt of gratitude. Hundreds of thousands have read Conan Doyle's stories, and have been thrilled, amused and entertained by them. He created, in SherlocJc Holmes, an immortal character in English fiction. Hundreds of thousands, again, have been stirred, puzzled and entertained by Houdini's extraordinary featsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;his dexterity, ingenuity and skill, and by the man himself. For he himself is an immortal character in the lives of many. Their letters constitute a unique document.

CONTEXTS

THE HOUDINI-DOYLE CORRESPONDENCE... CHAPTER I

5 11

Houdini: life and character—His performance at the Palace, Blackburn — His collections — His training — Conan Doyle's estimate of his character — Doyle: his beliefs, his attitude toward fraudulent mediums — Sketch of his life •—Sketch of Houdini's career •—• The question of the Davenport Brothers — Doyle's belief that Houdini had supernatural power.

CHAPTER II

47

Doyle's explanation of fraud among mediums — The exposure of Chambers — The Spiritualists themselves the leading unmaskers of fraud — Eva C. — Mrs. Wriedt — Dr. Crawford and his "cantilever theory" of levitation.

CHAPTER III

69

Houdini's performance at the London Hippodrome — His brush with Jess Willard — Kellar on Spiritualism — Mrs. Brittain.

CHAPTER IV Sir William Crookes's investigations of spiritualistic phenomena — D. D. Home, Kate Fox, Florence Cook •— The case of Slade and his slate-writing — The Wright "fairy photographs"— Doyle believed Houdini was super-normal — Instances of Doyle's keenness — Doyle and the banquet of the Society of American Magicians — Doyle puzzles the conjurers with the monsters in "The Lost World" — Houdini dragged on the stage at Raymond Hitchcock's "Pinwheel Revue."

89

CHAPTER V

109

Brief history of Spiritualism: the Fox Sisters; the Davenports; Home; Annie Eva Fay; Florence Cook; Palladino; Mme. Blavatsky; foundation of the British Society for Psychical Research; Mrs. Piper; Eglinton; the Bangs Sisters; Anna O'delia Diss DeBar — Mrs. L. E. Piper, William James, and Sir Oliver Lodge -— Bert Reese — Houdini's account of his experiences with Reese, Fraulein Rothe, and Baynes, and his own early Spiritualistic performances — Palladino — Spirit photographs — Ada Besinnet.

CHAPTER VI

132

The "Crewe Circle" •— Doyle's defense — Edward H. Morrell, the original of Jack London's Star Rover — Doyle inspects Houdini's collection of literature on Spiritualism — Houdini's account of how Doyle was deceived at seances — Houdini's explanation of Hope and Palladino — A message "from Houdini's mother" — correspondence with the New York Times — A present from Houdini to Doyle.

CHAPTER VII

154.

The Houdinis and the Doyles at Atlantic City — Automatic writing — Lady Doyle gives a sitting — Houdini's account — His article in a New York paper — Doyle's reply — Houdini's explanation — Doyle's insistence — Houdini's sworn statement — His habit of rationalization.

CHAPTER VIII

186

The Scientific American Prize — Houdini's membership on the committee, and Doyle's attitude toward this — the Margery case — Doyle and the Zancigs; Kemp; Mrs. Eddy — Father Heredia — Rinn — Doyle's Western tour in 1923 — the beginning of the break — The end of a strange friendship.

CHAPTER IX

206

Correspondence between Doyle and Mrs. Houdini after Houdini's death — Mrs. Houdini tries to get spirit communications from her husband — Some important letters from the Houdini collection — Messages from Houdini?

CHAPTER X Correspondence between Doyle and B. M. L. Ernst — Death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — More efforts at communication with Houdini — The Ford message — Letter from Doyle to Harold Kcllock, Houdini's biographer — Inexplicable "spiritualistic" feats performed by Houdini.

228


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