I recently picked up a copy of adventurer and anthropologist William Seabrook‘s 1929 book on Haitian Voodoo, The Magic Island. The book is out of print, so I thought it would be nice to share some of the wonderful spooky illustrations that accompany the text.


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See the whole lot on Flickr

(My HP Photosmart C4180 scanner is a piece of crap, sorry, if there’s enough interest I’ll rescan these at higher quality.)


  1. #1 Tracy Thompson
    September 16, 2010


    This is awesome (the post of the Voodoo images)

    I’m a journalist in Grad school and currently working on my Master thesis about Vodou.

    I see you said the book is out of print. Is it??

    Thanks again!
    Tracy T

  2. #2 Frank the SciencePunk
    September 16, 2010

    Hi Tracy
    Yes, I believe the Magic Island is out of print. The images above are from a 1929 copy I bought from a private seller on Amazon. You might have some luck picking up a copy there.

    Good luck with the thesis.

  3. #3 Walter Teague, III
    November 10, 2012

    I wonder if you know anything about similar illustrations published around the same time, 1920+ – 1940 of Voodoo and related activities in Haiti. My mother had a book that had these dramatic, black and white illustrations of very exaggerated charactures similar to these Alexander King drawings. I have been looking for the book for some years. The drawings or woodcuts included people dancing wildly and may or may not have been racist, but certainly left a strong impression. I have done Google searches for Alexander King, and Lynd Ward, but so far yours from the Magic Island are closest. I bought the book, but it doesn’t have the ones I remember. Thanks for any suggestions.

  4. #4 Frank Swain
    November 11, 2012

    Hi Walter
    I’m afraid all I have is this – although there are many more illustrations in the book in a similar style (but not woodcuts). There are also photos in the back.
    Lafcadio Hearn wrote about Haiti and voodoo in Two Years in the French West Indies (he also published in Harpers) , and the copy of his book as seen on Project Gutenburg does have some images – but they are quite pleasant and restrained, anthropological in nature.

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