John Nevil Maskelyne
(22nd December 1839 - 18th May 1917)
Born in Cheltenham, England. Founded the great Maskelyne dynasty of English magicians. He got his start exposing the spiritism performance of the Davenport brothers. His performing partner was George Cooke. He opened the Egyptian Hall in London, a showplace for magic and illusion performances, and operated it for thirty years. In partnership with David Devant, he then opened St. George's Hall, a similar venue. A feisty personality, he was involved in two nasty and noteworthy lawsuits. The first involved a claim that Maskelyne had not exactly duplicated the feats of a spirit medium and was therefore not entitled to the challenge money offered. The second suit involved his attempt to stop two other magicians from performing a box escape similar to the one in his show; this suit was dropped when Maskelyne refused to reveal the secret of the escape to the court.