Houdini went to England at the turn of the century after a year of success in the United States working big time vaudeville for Martin Beck. He began to headline a bit in the US, but was dissatisified, so on the advice of good friend coin magician T. Nelson Downs he decided to go overseas. Downs had become a celebrity in Europe recently. Thinking hed had work in England he went. However, for whatever reason, the work fell through. Probably because no one there had ever head of an "escape artist". It never existed before, after all Houdini invented it.

He went around the various agents and set up an audition. The story goes he went to Scotland Yard and there he met Sargent Melville. He handcuffed Houdini to a pole and said we're going to eat, we'll be back to let you out. As he turned and headed for the door Houdini had himself free from the cuffs and said, "this is how we Americans get free. " Houdini got a favorable story in the press, he brought with him a newspaper writer, somthing he learned in the states. The story proclaiimed him as "The man who escaped from Scotland Yard". He was booked for two weeks at the Alhambra Theater. The rest is history. Houdini created a sensation, being held over and getting return bookings. He pickup up in England a young beginning agent who took a great interest in Houdini, Mr Harry Day. Day became, from this, a very successful agent and would eventually go to Parliment.

No matter how much Houdini asked for he got. Finally he was told, "We just cant pay any more!" Houdini replied, "Don't pay me anything, just raise all your prices and give me a percentage of how much comes in. He made even more than he had asked for. He was the first to ask for a percentage of the gate, which since has become common practice.
Houdini at the Empire Theater