Harry Price Library of Magical Literature

The collection

Nearly 13,000 books, pamphlets and periodical titles, some rare, on all aspects of magic: conjuring (from legerdemain to scientific recreations), witchcraft and the occult, prophecies, abnormal phenomena such as ghosts, mediums and spiritualism, scientific phenomena such as animal magnetism and eighteenth-century work on automata, and psychical research. The books date from 1472 to the twenty-first century, with emphasis on the nineteenth and especially twentieth centuries. While most are in English, all the major western European languages are represented. Price aimed at comprehensiveness, and multiple editions of various works are present, from Nostradamus’s Prophecies to Hoffmann’s Modern Magic.

 

The collector

Collected by the psychical researcher and writer Harry Price (1881-1948; see ODNB).

 

Acquisition

Deposited by Harry Price in 1936 and bequeathed in 1948, with an endowment to purchase additional material for the collection. Bequests and donations have enabled further growth, notably from Allan Heywood Bright (1942), the Wellcome Institute, Patrick Lindley and Roger Loomis.

 

Access

For an overview of the library, do a mixed classmark search on [H.P.L.]. This will bring up items in order by author’s surname. An author search on “Price, Harry ” as former owner will isolate items owned by him. For items acquired before 1935, see the printed catalogues (see below). Some items have been digitised and are available via the database Victorian Popular Culture.

 

Related archives

Report of the Library Committee for 1936 (description of the collection; UL/1/1/5); HP (Harry Price archive).

 

Select publications

  • Price, Harry, Short-title catalogue of Works on Psychical Research … from circa 1450 A.D. to 1929 A.D. (London, 1929)
  • Price, Harry, Short-title Catalogue of the Research Library from 1472 A.D. to the Present Day: Supplement (London, 1935)
  • Price, Harry, Exhibition of Rare Works from the Research Library of the University of London Council for Psychical Investigation from 1490 A.D. to the Present Day (London, 1934)

 

See also

 

Image credit