The Magic of John Nevil Maskelyne
Featured in this week’s History of Magic is John Nevil Maskelyne, who was born in Gloucestershire, England in 1839. His list of accreditation’s describes him as a magician, escapologist, inventor, author and paranormal investigator. He trained as a watchmaker and developed a real skill with clockwork and mechanical devices. His interest in magic came about by watching the famous Davenport Brothers present their so called spirit cabinet illusion. With his friend George Cooke a cabinet maker, they worked out how the spirit cabinet effects worked and then built their own cabinet exposing the Davenport brothers in 1865 as frauds. This inspired both Cooke and Maskelyne to both become professional magicians. The early years were financially hard, till a theatrical agent William Morton offered to finance a tour of England. They became a firmly established act that included a long term engagement at the renowned Egyptian Hall in London’s Piccadilly.