Talk – November 2017

November’s talk is a tour of the history of mystery – from 3000 BC to 2000 AD.

In ancient Egypt Sorcerer priests used scientific principles to create illusions for worship and to hold power over the people.

Magicians flourished in England in medieval times despite the risk of a death sentence for ‘witchcraft and conjuration’ under the edicts of Henry VIII. This danger lessened after various illusions were described in Reginald Scott’s 1584 publication, the ‘Discovery of Witchcraft.

In the early 18th Century Hogarth recorded events at the great fairs held in England, including various magic tricks.  Similar magic illusions were performed in France by Robert Houdin, who performed for Queen Victoria and her family at Osborne and Sandringham

With the emergence of the Music Hall, magic gained a new respectability and audiences flocked in their thousands to watch the extraordinary feats of The Great Illusionists. This gave birth to legendary tricks such as pulling a rabbit from a hat and sawing a lady in half.

Today Cruise ships have taken over from the Music Halls as venues for magic performances.  The popularity of the Harry Potter stories testifies to our continuing fascination with magic in an age of iPods and broadband.


The talk will be given by Bertie Pearce.  Bertie has a BA (Hons) in Drama from Manchester University, and a Diploma Internationale from the École Internationale du Théatre, Jacques Lecoq.  He is a member of the Inner Magic Circle, with Gold Star.  Past experience includes lecturing to cruise ship audiences, the Women’s Institute, theatre clubs and the Sussex Magic Circle, as well as to The Arts Society. In addition, Bertie has toured the world with a magic cabaret show and a one man show entitled All Aboard.