More comments on Harry Houdini, Professor Hoffmann, and “M-U-M” . . .

Below is a scan of the front cover of the November 1919 issue of M-U-M, as discussed in the preceding post.  The portrait shown is similar or identical to the frontispiece portrait of Professor Hoffmann in his Latest Magic, 1918 (also, in the second edition, 1919).

Sawyer MUM2croppeddark2

The article actually has very little, if any, “new” information in it — that is, information which was not already in print.  The main interesting “new” information — at the end of the article, in the mention of “the letters which he dictates to his faithful sister” — is almost certainly wrong.

According to a website about the Calkin family, of which Hoffmann was a part via his mother, Hoffmann had a sister named Victoire Josephine Lewis, who, sadly, passed away at the age of five, when Hoffmann was nine or thereabouts.  I have never seen any other reference to any sisters, although he had two brothers.

The actual person to whom Hoffmann dictated his letters would very likely have been either his wife, or his daughter, Maud Angela Lewis.  Such a letter, to David Devant, was reproduced in The Magician Monthly shortly after Hoffmann passed away.

—Tom Sawyer

December 13, 2012

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