|Name:||John Nevil Maskelyne|
|Birth Day:||December 22, 1839|
|Death Date:||May 18, 1917 (age 77)|
As per our current Database, John Nevil Maskelyne died on May 18, 1917 (age 77).
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He worked as a watchmaker, which helped him with the intricacies of his magic acts.
Maskelyne was born on 22 December 1839 at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England to John Nevil Maskelyne (1800-75), a saddler, and his wife Harriet nee Brunsdon (1812-71). He trained as a watchmaker.
Maskelyne married Elizabeth Taylor (1840-1911) in 1862 Pershore, with children:
Maskelyne became interested in conjuring after watching a stage performance at his local Town Hall by the fraudulent American spiritualists the Davenport brothers. He saw how the Davenports' spirit cabinet illusion worked, and stated to the audience in the theatre that he could recreate their act using no supernatural methods. With the help of a friend, cabinet maker George Alfred Cooke, he built a version of the gigantic cabinet. Together, they revealed the Davenport Brothers' trickery to the public at a show in Cheltenham in June 1865, sponsored by the 10th Cotswold Rifle Corps to which they belonged . In addition to the pseudo-spiritualist phenomena of the Davenports, they added comedy illusions which included the transformation of Maskelyne and Cooke into an 'unprotected female' and a gorilla. Inspired by the acclaim they received for their clever exposure of the deception, the two men repeated their show several times.
In 1894, Maskelyne wrote the book Sharps and Flats: A Complete Revelation of the Secrets of Cheating at Games of Chance and Skill. This book became an instant hit and to this day is considered to be a classic gambling book. What made this book so popular was the fact that it was the first detailed revelation of the secrets of the cardsharps. Other authors, prior to Maskelyne, had written about crooked gambling, but never before had anyone published a work with in-depth, detailed explanation of the secrets of crooked gambling. The first edition of Sharps and Flats was published in London and New York. Later, when the book entered the public domain, the Gambler's Book Club, from Las Vegas, published the first reprint edition. The book is now also available online in the form of a web site, with annotations. In his lifetime, Maskelyne authored several books, but Sharps and Flats is by far his most important literary work and without any doubts the best known of his books.
The spiritualist Alfred Russel Wallace did not accept that Maskelyne had replicated the feats of the Davenport brothers utilizing natural methods, and stated that Maskelyne possessed supernatural powers. Maskelyne's observations of trickery at the Cambridge séance sittings in 1895 were important for the exposure of the medium Eusapia Palladino.
At first they struggled to make ends meet but they were saved by a young and relatively inexperienced theatrical agent named William Morton, who saw their show in Liverpool and offered to finance a tour. He engaged them at a weekly wage of £4 10s for Maskelyne and his wife, and 50 shillings for Cooke. Morton ran them round the country for two years, ending at The Crystal Palace for several weeks. He then secured for them the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, renovated it, put in a new stage and opened at the end of 1873. Morton ended up being their manager for a total of 20 years. He helped them to become firmly established on the national stage including such marathon theatrical engagements as their famous 31-year tenancy at the Egyptian Hall, only ending in 1905 when the Hall was demolished.
Upon Cooke's death in February 1905, Maskelyne started a partnership with David Devant. Devant had first joined Maskelyne's team in 1893, when he auditioned as a replacement for Charles Morritt, a conjurer and inventor who had worked with Maskelyne at the Egyptian Hall but who left to set up his own show.
In 1910, Maskelyne debated Hiram Maxim in The Strand Magazine on the trickery of the Davenport brothers.
Maskelyne was a member of The Magic Circle and, like Harry Houdini, tried to dispel the notion of supernatural powers. To this end, in 1914, Maskelyne founded the Occult Committee whose remit was to "investigate claims to supernatural power and to expose fraud". In particular, the committee attempted to prove that the Indian rope trick has never been performed.
Maskelyne died in Marylebone, London, on 18 May 1917.
Currently, John Nevil Maskelyne is 181 years, 7 months and 14 days old. John Nevil Maskelyne will celebrate 182nd birthday on a Wednesday 22nd of December 2021.
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