J.B. Priestley’s book Lost Empires, published in 1965, looks back on the life of the fictitious magician Ganga Dun before the First World War. In his talk given at the British Ring Convention in Eastbourne on 24 September 2015, Brian Lead revisits the book to review the magic in it and how closely it matches the reality of a magician working at the time. Read on to learn why Brian believes that Priestley had a good working knowledge of stage magic and instinctively understood the subtleties and problems of its presentation.
Magicians and historians put a great deal of effort into preparing illustrated talks which may only be delivered on one occasion. For some years we have felt it would be good to do what we can to capture some of this research and make it available to a wider audience.
To achieve this, the words and images of the presentations have been converted to PDF documents.
We are grateful to fellow collectors and historians who have made their own talks available in PDF form and allowed us to include them here.
Please contact the curator if you would like to propose your own talk for inclusion.
This section of the website is dedicated to Dr Edwin A Dawes. Eddie has inspired so many collectors and historians by his own example. The importance he attached to the three Cs of collecting – Collect, Collate, Communicate – is the approach to which this website aspires.
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.
Many know the name Chevalier Thorn, but few of us know his story. Paul Freeman’s research has pulled together a revealing picture of the man and his magic. From his birth in 1853 to his death in 1928 there were huge changes in the world of magic. Thorn’s accomplishments contributed to these changes and deserve wider recognition. Paul Freeman’s talk will do much to rectify this. Click here to download the PDF based on his talk.
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 below to enter his world.
In this insightful and entertaining talk Roy leads us through the numerous ways in which generations of children and adults have aspired to be a ‘Raging Social Success’ through mastering magic. How did amateurs learn their first tricks and where did they get them from? How has this changed over the years? Was the advice always good? Click below to have Roy answer these questions.
In 1944 Paul Freeman had the incredible experience of being sold a magic prop by Will Goldston, wrapped up in a Servais Le Roy poster. Click below to join Paul for his account of this transaction and what Paul subsequently discovered about the poster, Adolph Friedländer the lithographic printer, and the performer Servais Le Roy.
Michael takes us back to the First World War and The Magic Circle members who fought for King and Country.
Through letters from the Front and other information in The Magic Circular he lets us share the life of members at home and abroad.
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.
Roberta visited Britain as an American teenager in 1931with her parents and sister. Her charm and quality of magic made quite an impact, not least at the first convention of the I.B.M. British Ring in Cheltenham. In Britain she is largely unknown today, and Brian tells the story of how a photograph resulted in a journey of discovery to find out more about this talented young lady. Join Brian on his quest for more information below.
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.
Over the centuries British seaside towns have continually adapted to meet the requirements of visitors. So too have the entertainment opportunities for magicians, the tricks they are able to do, and the places in which they do them. It might be at fairs, on the beach, and increasingly in indoor venues ranging from lowly to grand. Roy traces these developments in words and pictures and on the way meets many well-known, and not so well-known, magicians.
The Magic Circle owns the original script for JN Maskelyne’s famous magical play Will, the Witch and the Watch. This is the play that brought Maskelyne’s Box Trick to the attention of the public. Anne traces the history of the play and paints a vivid picture of the story and how the magic fits into the plot.