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Anderson, John Henry (1814–1874), conjuror, known as ‘the Great Wizard of the North’, was born on 16 July 1814 on the estate of Craigmyle, Kincardine, the eldest child of John Anderson of Aberdeen, a mason, and his wife, Mary Robertson. He was apprenticed at ...

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Brown, Henry [known as Henry Box Brown] (b. c. 1815, d. in or after 1878), slavery abolitionist and magician, was born a slave on a plantation in Louisa county, about forty-five miles from Richmond, Virginia, USA, about 1815. His first master was relatively kind but when he died ...

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Cooper, Thomas Frederick [Tommy] (1921–1984), comedian, was born on 19 March 1921 at Caerphilly, Glamorgan, the elder of the two sons of Thomas Cooper, coalminer, and his wife, Catherine Gertrude Wright. Although born in Wales, Cooper was brought up mainly in Exeter (where he attended ...

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Thomas Frederick Cooper (1921–1984) by Michael Dyer, 1976 © Michael Dyer; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Devant, David [real name David Wighton] (1868–1941), conjuror and illusionist, was born on 22 February 1868 at 4 Boston Terrace, Holloway, London, eldest of the seven children of James Wighton, a Scottish artist, and his wife, Mary Ansell. After attending local schools he worked at several jobs before becoming a professional entertainer. His interest in magic was aroused when he was about twelve and was fuelled by visits to ...

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David Devant (1868–1941) by unknown photographer [detail] V&A Images, The Victoria and Albert Museum

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Fawkes, Isaac (d. 1731), magician, is first recorded in newspaper puffs promoting his booth at Bartholomew fair in 1722. It is clear from their references to his patronage by the prince of Wales and the extent of his public renown that his reputation had been set for some time before this. Until 1726 ...

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See North Berwick witches

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Lewis, Angelo John [pseud. Professor Hoffmann] (1839–1919), journalist and writer on magic, was born on 23 July 1839 at Crescent Place, St Pancras, London, the son of John Lewis, a coal merchant, and his wife, Victorie Josephine, née Calkin. He was educated at ...

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Maskelyne, John Nevil (1839–1917), magician, was born on 22 December 1839 at 20 White Hart Row, Cheltenham, the son of John Nevil Maskelyne, a saddler, and his wife, Harriet Brunsdon. He was descended from the astronomer royal Nevil Maskelyne, who had a crater on the moon named after him. He was apprenticed to a watchmaker, and as a boy was a keen amateur conjuror, giving a public performance of his own tricks at the age of sixteen. In 1865 his exposure of the famous spiritualists the ...