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A long-lost manuscript by HP Lovecraft, an investigation of superstition through the ages that the author was commissioned to write by Harry Houdini, has been found in a collection of magic memorabilia. The Cancer of Superstition was previously known only in outline and through its first chapter. Houdini had asked Lovecraft in 1926 to ghostwrite the treatise exploring superstition, but the magician’s death later that year halted the project, as his wife did not wish to pursue it. According to Potter & Potter Auctions of Chicago, the 31-page typewritten manuscript was discovered in a large collection of memorabilia from a now-defunct magic shop. Part of the collection consisted of papers kept by Houdini’s widow, Beatrice, and her manager, Edward Saint.
“The collection bounced around after Beatrice Houdini’s death in 1943 and was never truly catalogued or ‘mined’ in all that time. The papers were never researched or inventoried,” said Potter & Potter president Gabe Fajuri. “In all that time, no one seemed to realise the significance of the manuscript.”
Fajuri said the collection was recently bought privately, and when “the new owner began sorting through the mountain of paperwork, he began putting the pieces together, and in the process discovered the manuscript and its significance”.
the document explores everything from worship of the dead to werewolves and cannibalism, theorising that superstition is an “inborn inclination” that “persists only through mental indolence of those who reject modern science”. “Most of us are heathens in the innermost recesses of our hearts,” it concludes.