(1 review, 1 customer rating) ★★★★★
This is a lovely story of a boy wizard growing up to become a conjurer. While this is not autobiographical, Angelo Lewis clearly incorporated aspects of his own experience and life into this novel. For example, one of his teachers of card sleight-of-hand, M. Charlier, makes an appearance as Monsieur Ledoyen. This was the first book that had his pseudonym, Professor Hoffmann, as well as his real name, Angelo J. Lewis, on the cover.
Interesting for magicians is that every trick that features in this novel is explained. While the explanations are not very detailed, they are enough to reveal the modus operandi.
(Note: On the title page it states "with illustrations". However, besides the frontispiece and the small illustration on the title page itself, there are no illustrations in this book.)
1st edition 1885, 256 pages; PDF 175 pages.word count: 89715 which is equivalent to 358 standard pages of text
- CHAPTER I: Early Recollections - My Uncle Bumpus and the Plate-Warmer - My Aunt Priscilla - An Interrupted Banquet - Our Own Household - Jemima Jackett - Domestic Diplomacy - Our First-Floor Lodger - An Unfounded Suspicion.
- CHAPTER II: My First School - A Sad Humiliation - The Misses Potter and their Little Weaknesses - An Unrequited Attachment - An Effectual Cure - My Second School.
- CHAPTER III: My First Introduction to the Major - The Other Things - A Delightful Promise - A Deadly Combat.
- CHAPTER IV: Athletic Exercises - The Noble Art of Self-Defence - Bound to do our Best - Our New Gymnasium - My First Pantomime - Harlequin Der Freischütz and the Seven Bad Shots - In Love with Columbine - An Unexpected Rival - Disillusion.
- CHAPTER V: My First Visit to a Conjuring Entertainment - My Enthusiasm - Extraordinary Indifference of Peter - Early Studies in Prestidigitation - The Tribulations of a Neophyte.
- CHAPTER VI: Dumpton College - A Rash Promise - The Major's Parting Advice - Showing my Colours - A Struggle for Religious Liberty - An Unexpected Victory - Wanted by the Vice-Principal - All Well that Ends Well - The Last of Gunter.
- CHAPTER VII: My First Appearance as a Conjurer - Preliminary Preparations - My Programme - A New Remedy for Nervousness - Grandfather's Clock - A Breakdown in the Musical Department - A Flying Egg - The Wanderings of a Halfpenny - Curious Effects of the Human Breath - The Mysterious Die - The Magic Hornpipe.
- CHAPTER VIII: The Second Part of my Entertainment - The Phoenix Card - A Mysterious Disappearance - The Inexhaustible Bottle - A Cure for Greediness - The Doctor's Speech.
- CHAPTER IX: Home for the Holidays - Peter in low spirits - Our attempts at Consolation - Peter Runs Away - Breaking the News - Return to Dumpton College - At Home Once More - Showing Off - An Awful Retribution - A Moral Safety-valve.
- CHAPTER X: The Last of my Reprieve - The Modern Cagliostro - An Unexpected Opening - Testing my Capabilities - Assistant to a Conjurer.
- CHAPTER XI: My Flight - A Wizard at Home - The Professor and his Family - Madame Linda and the Duchess - My New Quarters - A Big Box and a Small Bedroom - The Difficulty Solved.
- CHAPTER XII: Reconnoitring the Premises - Lily and her Dog Tip - The "Second-Sight" Trick - Beginning Work - Gimp the Money-Taker - The Professor's Programme - Opinions of the Press - Behind the Scenes - Learning my Business.
- CHAPTER XIII: Breaking the News of my Flight. - Mistaken Suppositions. - The Lack of a Dress-coat. - My first Experiences as a Gentleman Usher. - Awkward Customers. - Money-making Extraordinary. - A Sceptic convinced. - An Enchanted Handkerchief. - A Light-headed Gentleman.
- CHAPTER XIV: The Clairvoyance Trick - Mesmeric Influence - The Suspended Wand - THE Obedient Ball - The Fairy Violante - The Morality of Conjuring.
- CHAPTER XV: Professor Ledoyen - Card-Conjuring Extraordinary - Appealing to the "Spirits" - A Transformation Trick - A Dazzling Promise.
- CHAPTER XVI: The Sober Side of Conjuring. - A Magician at Rehearsal. - Exhausted Energies. - A Dangerous Remedy. - A Remarkable Hat. - An Enthusiastic Amateur. - Lessons in Magic. - A New Occupation.
- CHAPTER XVII: Starting for a Country Tour. - Brighton. - Walks with Lily. - The Professor's Religious Opinions. - A Visit to Oxford. - A Liar Exposed. - Reaction.
- CHAPTER XVIII: Crossing the Channel. - A Life on the Ocean Wave. - Gimp on Steamboat Travelling. - A Visit to Ostend. - The Chevalier d'Arras. - Poor Fred Howard. - A Tragical History. - Pointing a Moral.
- CHAPTER XIX: Bruges. - Ghent. - Brussels. - A Serious Dilemma. - The Only Way out of it. - A Bed-chamber Rehearsal. - The Mysteries of "Make-Up." - My first Public Show. - Washing the Paint off. - An Unexpected Meeting. - Putting Things in a New Light. - Letters from Home.
- CHAPTER XX: Arrival in Paris - Gastronomic Experiences - Gimp Missing - The Morgue - Return of the Prodigal - The History of his Adventures - An Epicurean Banquet - Presenting the Bill.
- CHAPTER XXI: The Gingerbread Fair - A Trip by Rail - Merry-Go-Rounds Extraordinary - Sea on Land - A Montagne Russe - The Shooting-Galleries - The Encyclopédie Méthodique - The Tonquinese Dwarf and the Fair Cleopatra.
- CHAPTER XXII: A Spiritualistic Séance - Harmonising the Influences - Too Much Light- Remarkable Manifestations - The Sceptical Doctor - The Professor open to Conviction - The Third Sitting - A Sudden Illumination - Discomfiture of the Medium - "How it was Done" - Supplementary Revelations.
- CHAPTER XXIII: Departure from Paris - A Round of Watering-Places - The Professor going to the Bad - Lily - Hopes and Fears - A Terrible Verdict - Returning to Brighton - The Beginning of the End - A Last Promise - Lily's Legacy - Dust to Dust - A Faithful Friend.
- CHAPTER XXIV: A Stricken Household - A Gallant Struggle - Victory at Last - A Council of War - Shall we go to America? - Hesitation - A Letter from the Major - The Death of Uncle Bumpus - Attending the Funeral - The Reading of the Will - Refusing a Legacy - A Family Conclave - Unexpected Revelations.
Reviewed by Steve Sanders (confirmed purchase)
★★★★★ Date Added: Thursday 09 February, 2023
A fascinating glimpse into the life of a working conjurer at the beginning of 'The Golden Age of Magic'. Eruditely written by Professor Hoffmann in a humorous style which is still very apt today. An interesting read, a must for all those with an interest in the history of magic.