The Davenport Collection
- a growing resource on magic and entertainment history

Peter Brunning

Please find below the articles and talks created by Peter Brunning
George Cooke of Maskelyne and Cooke

George Cooke of Maskelyne and Cooke

Maskelyne and Cooke’s entertainments at the Egyptian Hall on Piccadilly were a feature of the London scene for over thirty years. During that time a great deal was written about them in newspapers and magazines. The publicity invariably focused on J.N. Maskelyne, who was sole proprietor of Maskelyne and Cooke’s. Virtually nothing was written about his stage partner, George Cooke. This was an injustice because Maskelyne’s success would have been impossible without Cooke’s talent, loyalty and hard work. Peter Brunning’s article brings George Cooke into the spotlight by telling the story of his life.

Over the years Maskelyne went to great lengths to protect his magic secrets. Cooke also went out of his way to protect secrets but, in his case, they were family secrets. Peter has unravelled Cooke’s unconventional private life as well as identifying his important contribution to the popularity of the Maskelyne and Cooke entertainments.

It is 120 years since Cooke’s final appearances at the Egyptian Hall, but at last his story is being told.

David Devant and His Wider Family: who they were and how they lived

David Devant and His Wider Family: who they were and how they lived

Peter Brunning’s painstaking research has uncovered the most complete story yet about Devant and his family. This includes new insights into Devant’s marriage and his daughter Vida, topics which have puzzled many magic historians. Peter’s article is illustrated with seldom seen images from the Davenport Collection.

Peter Waring – magic, comedy and crime

Peter Waring – magic, comedy and crime

Peter Brunning tells the story of this now seldom remembered magician. Peter Waring, born in 1916, only became a magician after the second world war. His sophisticated modern style was a great success and he soon found himself working at some of the best variety theatres. At the height of his career, his comedy and timing won him his own comedy programme on BBC radio. His meteoric rise was followed by a swift downfall as his past caught up with him, resulting in his suicide in 1949.