Who was Professor Hoffmann?

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 10/11/06 05:41 AM

A.k.a Angelo Lewis.
T.A. Waters Magic and Magicians there's a little written about him. But not much.
Did he perform?
Why The name Professor Hoffmann?
I'm reading More Magic and just wanted a little bit more about the author. Thanks.
Andrew Martin Portala
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Postby Guest » 10/11/06 08:21 AM

Apparently the pseudonym was chosen to protect his legal career from being tainted by public knowledge of his interst in conjuring etc. In his 1918 book, LATEST MAGIC, which bears both his pseudonym and real name on the title page and frontispiece, he writes: "A final word on a personal matter. Had I been a prophet, as well as magician, when I first began to write on conjuring, I should have chosen a different pen-name. In the light of later events, my selection was unfortunate. My identity has long been an open secret, but as I cannot flatter myself that it is unversally known, I take this opportunity to assure all whom it may concern that I am British to the backbone."
He did occassionally give charity performances (at least one program is preserved, a benefit performance for Professor Charlier, the mysterious cardman who tutored Hoffmann and others. Charlier also performed on this program, one of his few known public appearances). Much of Hoffmann's early work was translated from French (Ponsin, Robert-Houdin) and German sources. One of his most difficult to find works, and one of the few written under the name Angelo Lewis, is a book on the Indian Penal Code. Anyone out there have a copy? In addition to his great trilogy MODERN MAGIC, MORE MAGIC and LATER MAGIC, he wrote dozens of other books, PUZZLES OLD AND NEW being as seminal in the puzzle community apparently as MODERN MAGIC is in ours. His writing career superceded his legal one and he became a full time writer in his later years.

Postby Guest » 10/11/06 10:24 AM

At one point Lewis/Hoffman's original contract was available on the net. I can't locate it today, but something I wrote back in December of 2004 for this Forum in a thread on exposure may be of interest.

About Hoffman I wrote:

"Angelo Lewis, the vaunted Professor Hoffman, was considered an arch exposer in his day, his books being aimed at the public as they were. Many of the things we see as quaint today, carefully described by Hoffman, were highly expensive apparatus in his day, gratituously exposed as the majority of his readers would never be able to afford them. His first book contract was 500 pounds, a princely sum. His books today are "classics."

It is my recollection that the contract was a buy-out, that for their 500 pounds the publisher bought all rights and that no royalty would be paid. I suspect with the success of the first or subsequent titles this arrangement was changed for future titles.

Postby Guest » 10/11/06 12:17 PM

Another somewhat unusual book Professor Hoffman wrote is Home Gymnastics with a chapter on obesity, which couldn't be more timely.


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