Ever since the revival of The Master Key System and its author, the “Grandfather of Personal Development” and the “Man Who Unlocked the World,” Charles F. Haanel, there has been a deluge of myths, mistruths, and outright lies about both the man and his work.
I tackles some of these in one of the most popular articles I have ever written, “The 3 Lies You Were Told About The Master Key System and Charles F. Haanel.”
This article is not going to correct myths or dispel lies. Rather, it is to share with you some very interesting — and quite surprising — facts about Charles F. Haanel that you probably did not know.
It is my intention to put a human face on Mr. Haanel, who is often shrouded in mystery. Fortunately, through my research and the research of others, we know a little bit about the “Man Who Unlocked the World” beyond the historical “he was born here and died there.”
We still don’t know enough. There is still a lot of mystery there. Maybe one day we will be able to gain a complete picture.
Until that day, please enjoy these five surprising facts.
1. Charles F. Haanel Published Magazines Before The Master Key System
In 1885, Charles went into the publishing business and, after buying out his partners, set up the C.F. Haanel Publishing Company with offices at 4723 Greer Avenue in Michigan. These publishing companies published illustrated magazines such as Illustrated Monthly (later called The Home Circle) until 1896.
It is unknown exactly what happened with this company or its publications.
2. Charles F. Haanel Didn’t Invent the Term “Master Key”
There were at least two other publications that emphasize the words “The Master Key” prior to the Twentieth Century. The actual phrase has been used since the 17th Century by the Freemasons and in an 18th century publication Hiram, or the Master Key to the Door of Freemasonry, published in 1760.
Another use of the phrase can be found in Madame Helena Blavatsky’s famous (or should that be infamous) 600-page Isis Unveiled, with its sub-title A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology, published in 1877. One shouldn’t underestimate the popularity and influence of Blavatsky and those who followed her teachings — the Theosophists.
In the Twentieth Century, two authors released books with “Master Key” in the title. The first comes from L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz fame, and is an early science fiction novel. It was called The Master Key and subtitled An Electrical Fairy Tale. It told of the adventures Rob and the Demon of Electricity. This was published in 1901.
Another book came out at around the same time Haanel was working on his correspondence school. Its advertisement showed a book and a man reading a book inside an hour glass. The advertisement read:
“The Master Key ~ Reveals Things You Never Thought Possible. The Hour Glass of Success. You Will Never get Another Book Like ‘The Master key’.”
It was written by L. W. de Laurence and published by The de Laurence Company of Chicago, Illinois, USA, in 1914. To quote a few lines from it will show obvious similarities with Haanel’s The Master Key System.
“THE MASTER KEY is divided into Six parts: contains Thirty-seven full Chapters embracing Thirty-five Lessons of graduated difficulty covering Forty individual numbered Exercises in which the fundamental principles of Concentration and Mental Discipline are fully explained.”
3. He Also Didn’t Invent the Concept of the Law of Attraction
The phrase that is on the tip of the tongues of many today is “Law of Attraction.”
Like some other terms used by Haanel in his works, this was probably not of his own inventing. It seems to have come to light first in the works of William Walker Atkinson (1862 – 1932) and particularly in Thought Vibration or The Law of Attraction in the Thought World published by The New Thought Publishing Co., Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1906.
Though the phrase itself is much older even than that, its meaning became somewhat different with Atkinson and Haanel.
The Law of Attraction also appears in the syllabus of the S.R.I.A. — The Society of Rosicrucians. However, it is not known how old this syllabus is and it is likely that it is quite modern. The S.R.I.A. was formed in 1909 with the idea of teaching to the general public rather than Masons as with previous Rosicrucian groups. Some other aspects of the S.R.I.A. syllabus bears similarities to Haanel’s works. However, it may be that both this syllabus and Haanel’s ideas are from an older source — or just a coincidence. It is unknown which came first.
Ultimately it may be possible to trace the idea of the Law of Attraction back to certain phrases from Jesus Christ — “Ask and ye shall receive,” for example — in the New Testament of the Bible.
4. Napoleon Hill Credits HIS Success to Charles F. Haanel and The Master Key System
While some of you may already know this, you would be surprised by how many people do not. In any event, it is such an astounding bit of trivia, that it had to be included in this list.
In 1919, future author of probably the best-known personal development book in the world, Think & Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill penned a letter to Charles F. Haanel about the influence The Master Key System had on him.
In the letter Hill wrote “I believe in giving credit where it is due, therefore I believe I ought to inform you that my present success and the success which has followed my work as President of the Napoleon Hill Institute is due largely to the principles laid down in The Master-Key System.”
You can read the full letter here.
5. Charles F. Haanel’s First Job Was at a Enamling and Stamping Company
Charles attended public schools in St. Louis and then got his first full-time job at the National Enameling and Stamping Company as an office boy in 1886. This company had been formed by the Neidringhaus brothers, Frederick and William, from Westphalia, Germany. Charles worked there for 15 years and may have also attended college as the 1885 St. Louis Directory has the abbreviation “coll.” next to his name.
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