“You’ll find them in the only place on earth I know of where survival has yet to be refuted. The Belasco house in Maine": First Edition of Richard Matheson's Hell House; Signed by Him
Item Number: 63051
New York: The Viking Press, 1971.
First edition of “the scariest haunted house novel ever written” (Stephen King). Octavo, original half cloth. Boldly signed by Richard Matheson on the title page. Fine in a fine dust jacket. Jacket design by Paula Silver. An exceptional example, rare and desirable signed.
The story concerns four people – Dr. Lionel Barrett, a physicist with an interest in parapsychology, his wife Edith, and two mediums (Florence Tanner, a Spiritualist and mental medium, and Benjamin Franklin Fischer, a physical medium) – who are hired by dying millionaire, William Reinhardt Deutsch, to investigate the possibility of life after death. To do so, they must enter the infamous Belasco House in Maine, regarded as the most haunted house in the world. The house is called "Hell House" due to the horrible acts of blasphemy and perversion that occurred there under the silent influence and supervision of Emeric Belasco. Fischer is the only survivor of a failed investigation attempt thirty years earlier. The novel combines supernatural horror with mystery as the researchers attempt to investigate the haunting of the house while their sanity is subtly undermined by its sinister supernatural influence. During the investigation, various influences begin to affect each character's personal weaknesses: Florence through her belief in Spiritualism and her over-eagerness to rid the house of its evil; Dr. Barrett through his almost-arrogant disbelief in/disregard for Spiritualism, his belief in science, and his debilitated physical condition (having suffered from polio when young); Edith through her personal fears, insecurities, and pent-up desires; and Fischer through his deliberate inaction (which he calls "caution"). Hell House's potency comes from its apparent ability to corrupt those who enter its walls, before bringing about their destruction, both mental and physical. "Hell House is the scariest haunted house novel ever written. It looms over the rest the way the mountains loom over the foothills" (Stephen King). In 1973 the novel was made into a film, The Legend of Hell House, starring Pamela Franklin and Roddy McDowall, with Matheson writing the screenplay.