Mary Evans collection of the week: Harry Price Library of Magical Literature


Harry Price (born 1881 in London) is best known as one of the leading (and most controversial) researchers and authoritative voices on all things paranormal; his popularity gained predominantly through his work investigating well known haunted houses and exposing fake spiritualists during the 1920s and ’30s, a time when public interest in séances and the ‘paranormal’ was at its peak.

It can be said that Harry Price was the pioneer of modern paranormal research and following his untimely death in March 1948, the University of London was bequeathed Price’s ‘Library of Magical Literature’, an extensive wealth of information he collected over the years on the subject, and which, by the efforts of external donations and contributions has now grown to become an asset of almost 13,000 works detailing all aspects of the occult. The pictorial element of this otherworldly collection is something that Mary Evans has represented for some years, and dovetails nicely with the interests and specialism of Hilary Evans, husband of Mary and co-founder of the library, who himself wrote a number of books on the paranormal. For this reason, the collection is an exceptionally appropriate fit for the library and out of the many peculiar contributor archives we have the privilege to work with, the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature is certainly one our most curious.

The weird and wonderful is in abundance, and so you’ll find ghostly investigations at Borley Rectory, a talking mongoose, the Indian rope trick, clairvoyants, seances, levitations, illusionists, firewalking and mediums exuding ectoplasm of questionable appearance through their nostrils. Houdini makes several appearances, there are plenty of spirit photographs as well as numerous pictures of Price and his collaborators, along with his famous ghost-hunting kit. Click here for a spooky and supernatural selection.

Mary Evans Picture Library newsletter – 15 June, 2021.
Picture credit: ©Harry Price / Mary Evans Picture Library