Tim Ellis wrote:... I'm specifically looking for autobiographies - they seem to be a rarer book as far as magicians go. ...
Tim, just curious: are you primarily interested in autobiographies because there are relatively few of them in our literature? Nothing wrong with that angle, just curious.
Theres actually quite a bit of autobiographical material out there, if you dont rule out shorter works and foreign-language titles. Wouldnt surprise me if there were at least a couple hundred titles. And if you include magazine articles and pitchbooks, the quantity of material really goes up.
Some autobiographies were ghosted and many are not reliable so far as historical accuracy goes. For example, many historians agree that Thurstons My Life in Magic
was ghosted, and there are good reasons to conclude that not only were Maskelynes White Magic
and Beauforts Nothing Up My Sleeve
both ghosted, but also written by the same guy. And given that Stanley, Paul & Co. published the Maskelyne and Beaufort titles, it would not surprise me if Goldins Its Fun to be Fooled
was also ghosted.
Another thing to consider is the magic content in some of these works. For example, Bertrams A Magician in Many Lands
has very little to do with Bertrams relationship to magic, and is really just a collection of anecdotes by a world traveler. A similar observation could be made about Kellars autobiography, though to a lesser degree.
Important autobiographical information can also be gleaned from works which do not purport to be autobiographies, for example, Houdinis The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin
As usual, with any field of collecting even for seemingly narrow niches it can get tricky and sticky trying to define exactly what it is you want to collect. But in any event, the process and pursuit is fun.