Houdini's diaries?

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Postby Roger M. » 12/24/11 05:08 PM

Just reading an older Genii and noted a reference to Harry's diaries.

A question if I may.
Who holds them in their library, and why no move to publish them?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/24/11 05:47 PM

The name of the person who owns most of them (a few--very few--are in the hands of magic collectors) has never been made public. He is a descendant of someone who was close to Houdini and is extremely wealthy. He does not need the money, nor does he seem to care that their contents are of interest to many people.

One of the few allowed access to them was Ken Silverman while researching his biography on Houdini. As I recall, he was given something like 2 hours to look through them and take notes. So he flipped through them very quickly (there are MANY volumes), talking into a cassette recorder as rapidly as he could. In this way, amazingly, Ken managed to extract most of the best information.
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Postby Roger M. » 12/24/11 06:23 PM

What an amazing story.

Perhaps the owner doesn't really understand what he's in possession of.......at least in the sense of how a typical magic historian would look at the same set of "books".

I would imagine he (the owner) fully understands who Houdini was, and that the diaries have great monetary value........but perhaps, not being of "the craft", he doesn't appreciate the overall importance of the contents, devoid of the actual cash value of the paper and ink?

Ken would obviously know who this person is, and perhaps even observed his general attitude towards the diaries........has Ken ever commented publicly on his foray into this chaps library?
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Postby Roger M. » 01/02/16 05:47 PM


Wonder if they have a library in-house?
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Postby Jack Shalom » 01/02/16 06:52 PM

Roger M. wrote:https://www.elklakelodge.com

Wonder if they have a library in-house?

I clicked on "Book, Now" but no pdf appeared...
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Postby Roger M. » 01/02/16 07:02 PM

lol !

I wonder if they keep all of the diaries up there, or only a few?

Perhaps late at night, when the guests gather in the lobby for their night-cap, the lights are dimmed and the guests are sworn to secrecy - and a safe behind the bookcase is opened...

Owners of the lodge and surrounding 12,000 acres surname is Ernst.

1) Houdini's attorney at his death was Bernard M. L. Ernst, he's the executor of Houdini's estate.
2) B.M.L. Ernst son was Richard C. Ernst.
3) Richard C. Ernst married Susan Bloomingdale, granddaughter of the stores founder.
4) R.C. and Susan Ernst had a son, John L. Ernst, and also two daughters, Eleanor and Cornelia.
5) John L. Ernst owns Elk Lake Lodge, and (with his sisters) the Houdini diaries.

a) Original owner had to have access directly to the diaries upon Houdini's death.
b) Current owner is male, and extremely wealthy.
c) Diaries have never been out in "public", so would have had to remain in a single family from Houdini's death until 2016.

It would seem that this is not a case of somebody not caring about the diaries, indeed quite the opposite as even the wealthiest of folks are prone to selling things (for large amounts of money) that they no longer have any interest in.
In this case, it would seem there has to be much more involved ... perhaps a father committing his son to a covenant, who in turn commits his son to the same covenant:

"These books never leave the family".

Of course I'm positing, but positing after research. A "yes" or "no" would be handy, obviously there are more than a few people who know for sure.
I simply cannot find any other avenue of ownership these diaries could have taken, and there are more than a few deep references (not online) stating that the Ernst family holds the diaries.

The obscure references to current ownership combined with the direct family lineage and the known facts related to the current diary owners lead me here.

Now ... back to Erdnase.
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Postby paperbackarch » 01/25/16 01:08 PM

This is fascinating!!! Does anyone know if there are any fictionalised versions of his diary??? I imagine there must be a lot of speculation around a lot of aspects of his life.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/25/16 01:18 PM

paperbackarch wrote:This is fascinating!!! Does anyone know if there are any fictionalised versions of his diary??? I imagine there must be a lot of speculation around a lot of aspects of his life.

As story -> myth... yeah I guess so. Look at Lovecraft crossovers.

As history ... the magic community has not done too well with that so far - Robert-Houdin, Germaine, Hofzinser ... stories of annoying elderly exes and rumor mongering.

In context - it seems Issac Newton's diaries are also not yet published.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time
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