Nevil Maskelyne (magician)

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Nevil Maskelyne
Nevil Maskelyne circa 1903
John Nevil Maskelyne

1863 (1863)
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
Died22 September 1924(1924-09-22) (aged 61)
Marylebone, London, England
OccupationStage magician
SpouseAda Mary Ardley (1863–1918)
ChildrenJasper Maskelyne

John Nevil Maskelyne, known professionally as Nevil Maskelyne (1863–1924), was a British magician and inventor.


Maskelyne was born in 1863 Cheltenham (bapt 22 July 1863) to stage magician John Nevil Maskelyne (1839-1917) and his wife Elizabeth née Taylor (1840-1911).

Following his father's death he assumed control of Maskelyne's Ltd.[1]

In wireless telegraphy he was the manager of Anglo-American Telegraph Company which controlled the Valdemar Poulsen patents.[2]

He was a public detractor of Guglielmo Marconi in the early days of radio (wireless). In 1903 he hacked into Marconi's demonstration of wireless telegraphy, and broadcast his own message, hoping to make Marconi's claims of "secure and private communication" appear foolish.[3][4][5]


Footage of a total solar eclipse in 1900 taken by Maskelyne in North Carolina.

Maskelyne wrote several books on magic, including Our Magic: The Art in Magic, the Theory of Magic, the Practice of Magic (with David Devant) and On the Performance of Magic.

Family and death[edit]

Maskelyne married Ada Mary Ardley (1863–1918) on 9 July 1888 at St Mary's Church, Battersea, London. They had five children:[6]

  • John Nevil ("Jack") Maskelyne (1892–1960), a noted author on railway matters and editor of Model Railway News in the early 20th century.[7]
  • Clive Maskelyne (1894–1928), who succeeded his father as president of the Magic Circle.
  • Noel Maskelyne (1899–1976), stage magician who joined the Maskelyne company after his father's death.
  • Jasper Maskelyne (1902–1973), stage magician remembered for his accounts of using his magical abilities to deceive the Nazis.
  • Mary Maskelyne (1902–2000), stepmother of the actress Joan Sterndale-Bennett

He died in Marylebone on 22 September 1924.


  1. ^ Caveney, Mike (April 2007). "Classic Correspondence: J.N. Maskelyne to Charles Carter". Magic. 16 (8): 18–20.
  2. ^ "Pictures By Wireless". The New York Times. 1 January 1908.
  3. ^ Larson, Erik (2006). Thunderstruck. Crown. ISBN 1-4000-8066-5.
  4. ^ Wilson, Daniel (May 2015). "Rogue Oscillators". Fortean Times (341): 38–44.
  5. ^ Marks, Paul (27 December 2011). "Dot-dash-diss: The gentleman hacker's 1903 lulz". New Scientist. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  6. ^ "John Nevil Maskelyne (1863-1924)".
  7. ^ "SteamIndex".

External links[edit]