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Woes of a Wizard
was written by David Devant before he was partner to J. N. Maskelyne
in his famous Egyptian Hall in London. Devant became a partner after George Cooke, Maskelyne's former partner had left the enterprise. Devant was a natural choice as he was fast becoming the top magician in England. But at the time of this publication he was, as Paul Daniels says, "a jobbing magician." His base was just outside London, and he traveled the country repeatedly giving shows for society and in the Music Hall. In his famous book, now happily made available once again, he relates the stories that every professional magician knows so well. The triumphs, the tribulations, and the cleverness of solving problems attendant to creating illusion under difficult and not ideal circumstances. While the world has changed from Devant's day, surely there is some similarity to the situations magicians face. Being robbed, being bested by those that would fool the magician, and hosts who treat magicians as "the help" instead of a "guest artist" are all related. Here you will find the "real secrets" of the magician's craft told by one of the most celebrated practitioners of the craft whose career ended when a neuromuscular disease took away his faculties.
After 25 years a conjuror, David Devant spent his last 30+ years in a nursing home. This is the book that precedes his final autobiography My Life of Magic, and is the more interesting of the two because here he has no hype to spread. Here is the truth, originally sold for one shilling, about 25 cents at the time...a goodly sum of cash! Coming on the heels of Robert-Houdin's celebrated memoirs, this book indeed tells it like it was at the beginning of the 20th century by a man who could write as well as practice the art of illusion, "all done by kindness." An engrossing read you will enjoy, and if you aspire to being a pro, a book you will glean valuable information from about how to handle situations such as hosts who delay your performance for seemingly unimportant reasons. Slugging bags from gig to gig is the tip of what is told. More importantly, you will get an idea of how to rise above the rest as the master David Devant surely did. Most importantly, this book holds a lesson for the next big magic star. While others who have the public eye fall prey to parading ego, this book takes a different tac, and one that is mighty rare. Devant made his bones and gained his celebrity because of a quality so lacking in current day performers: selflessness. Learn this concept and you will have the keys to a real future as a magician. Devant's success is the proof that selflessness was the ingredient that propelled him to being considered the finest magician Britain ever produced, which some still believe today, over 100 years after his birth.
– Ben Robinson
1st edition 1903; original 183 pages; PDF 83 pages.
word count: 39376 which is equivalent to 157 standard pages of text