Victorian Magic

Scarlett Osborne

Reading is fun and probably one of the best things you can do. But recently, I’ve been exploring the world of movies a bit more. Movies, just like books, are a form of art and it requires a lot of work to make a good one. 

The number of Victorian-era movies is a bit limited, but I can still work with it. I can overlook the inaccuracies and mistakes as long as the plot is cohesive and well thought out. 

So a movie I watched a couple of days ago, “The Illusionist” was VERY interesting. It followed an illusionist who was trying to win his childhood love, a Duchess, back. It focused more on the mystery aspect, but the romance was nice too. 

And then I re-watched “The Prestige” (a personal favorite) and I noticed a pattern. They have their fair share of fantasy inside, but they do show some truth. 

Illusionists were a real part of the era. They existed, many thrived and many were admired. So I did my own research and I’m here to share a few things with you!

Ready? 

Believe it or not, the Victorian era was the time “magic” thrived! The greatest tricks were born and it was a huge part of people’s entertainment. Royal or not, you had to love them. 

Of course, when we say “magic”, we’re talking about tricks that involved science and skill and proper spells. These tricks were very well thought out and impressive to behold. We’re not just talking about pulling a rabbit from a hat (although that is impressive too), but we’re talking about complex illusions that were impossible to decipher. 

The secret to most of them was a complex array of mechanisms, along with capable assistants that made sure everything went off without a hitch. 

Ventriloquists? Quick change artists? They all originate in the Victorian era. 

The Davenport Brothers visited London in 1865 and they became one of the most famous acts in England, with people lining up to see their shows, which involved exactly what I mentioned above. 

An amazing book that covers this subject is “The Victorian Magic” by Geoffrey Lamb, and it mentions all the tricks Victorian people loved and performed. 

Many of today’s tricks were in use. Birdcages, swords, multiplying balls, fireballs and so much more. 

Now for the costumes! 

The costumes they wore were carefully stitched and we can’t deny that they look very fancy. Just staring at them is enough to make your heart swoon! Long coats with beautiful patterns, big hats, carefully styled ties. 

https://www.historicalemporium.com/mens-victorian-clothing.php 

This site above is enough to give you a bit of context as to how beautiful and diverse the clothing was. 

So what do you think? Would you love to attend a Victorian magic show? 

Personally, I’m very tempted to write a book about this 😉 

– Written by Scarlett Osborne

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