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Charles Dickens Magician: Conjuring in Life, Letters and Literature

dickens bookBook Synopsis

Everybody knows Charles Dickens as an unsurpassed writer; many know him as a superb public reader of his own works; some know him as a talented actor; but very few know that he was also a conjurer. Up to now this knowledge has been rather hidden away in biographies, with academics considering it of little significance. For the first time Dickens's journey to a conjurer has been properly researched and narrated: using his own letters and other contemporary reports, the evolution of the novelist to enthusiastic performer is plotted.

What is particularly unique about this book is that Ian Keable brings his own experiences as a magic historian and professional magician to branch out into related subjects. Who were the conjurers that inspired Dickens? Which tricks did he do? Where did he get them from? What were his strengths and weaknesses as a conjurer? Why did he stop? Which of his contemporaries did he rate the best? Did his interest in conjuring impact upon his writing? In answering these questions, much is revealed about the world of Victorian conjuring and indeed magic generally.

It is unfortunate that many claims in the past have been made about Dickens relating to conjuring which have proved questionable: readers might be surprised by just how many errors have been perpetuated over the years. This book seeks to dispel those myths. But, in the process of disentanglement, new facts and insights emerge which prove equally intriguing about the man and his magic.

Rarely does a book merge two such endlessly fascinating subjects as magic and Charles Dickens into one. If you have even the remotest interest in either, Charles Dickens Magician is for you.

Why of Interest to Magicians?

  • Highlights a brilliant, but largely forgotten, mind reader, who Dickens saw; he described his act in great detail.
  • Answers finally the question of whether Dickens really saw the great French magician Robert-Houdin.
  • Puts into historical perspective the juxtaposition of the street entertainer and the theatre conjurer.
  • Corrects many errors about Dickens's conjuring perpetuated by previous magic historians.
  • Analyses Dickens's tricks that he did - many of which could easily be performed with great success today.

Why of Interest to Dickensians?

  • Shows how Dickens's approach to conjuring mirrors his personality in other areas of his life.
  • Illustrates how Dickens dropped magic similes and metaphors into his novels.
  • Argues that several key scenes in A Christmas Carol were heavily influenced by his knowledge of conjuring.
  • Reveals the significance of conjuring in Dickens's life and how it impacted on his attitude to Spiritualism.
  • Uncovers the extent of his magical writings in his two weekly journals Household Words and All the Year Round.

Book Details

The book is available to buy here on this page by PayPal in two different formats, with the contents identical in each. If you would prefer to purchase by cheque or some other means, please email me. For more than one copy (or any other questions), again email me for amended postage rates.

Soft Cover: 288 pages, with 8 pages of colour photographs. 198 x 129 mm

Price: £10 + p & p

Hard Back with Dust Jacket: 256 pages with 8 pages of colour photographs. 234 x 156 mm

Price: £25 + p & p

Hard Back including postage
Soft Cover including Postage
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