On 9 February 2012 Anne Goulden gave this talk at the British Music Hall study group in London. It follows Lewis Davenport’s performing career from around 1900 to around 1930 and explains how he juggled his time between his magic business, music hall work, and other performances. On the way it provides an overview of the different types of variety entertainment during the period.

Anne has unearthed new information on the eight year journey that took Maskelyne and Cooke from Cheltenham to the Egyptian Hall in London. On the way she explains how Maskelyne and Cooke could call themselves Royal Illusionists, despite not having performed before royalty.

John Salisse’s archive was the result of over 40 years of collecting and research. His interests were the Maskelyne family and their theatres. In this talk Anne dips into the archive, which is now part of The Davenport Collection. Anne focuses on the early days of the Egyptian Hall, where JN Maskelyne’s entertainments first made him a household name in Victorian Britain.

George Mozart (1864-1947) was a musician and burlesque comedian. He wasn’t one of the top music hall stars, but he had a long, successful career as an entertainer. In the 1920s he worked for the Maskelynes at St George’s Hall. His road to success is a fascinating story which tells us much about life as an entertainer in late 19th and early 20th century Britain. Click here to enter his world.

Lewis Davenport and his first wife, Julia, had some success with this act in 1904-09. It was a fast-paced act and, unusually for the first decade of the 20th century, both Lewis and Julia performed the magic. Anne’s talk follows their progress and focuses on the tricks that made up the act. Click below to read how the act developed and what was in it.

In the 1920s and 1930s most of Lewis Davenport’s bookings were at theatres in Great Britain. However, he did tour South Africa in 1926 and South America in 1927, as well as accepting bookings in Germany and Belgium. In this talk Anne follows Lewis around Europe, pointing out the differences between UK and continental variety, as well as introducing some of the speciality acts with whom Lewis worked.

Click below to join Lewis on his travels.

It is very difficult to find reliable information on the salaries paid to variety acts. In this article Anne Goulden reports on Oswald Williams’ act at the Leicester Palace and compares his salary with the other acts on the bill. These are recorded in a salaries book which belongs to the British Music Hall Society Archive.

J N Maskelyne’s whist-playing automaton, Psycho, has been at the Museum of London for over eighty years. For much of that time he has been in store, but he has been on display in a special exhibition on Sherlock Holmes. The exhibition opened on 17 October 2014 and continued until 12 April 2015. Anne Goulden produced this note to celebrate Psycho’s reappearance in public.