Professor Eddie Dawes

Remembered by Jon Marshall

Renowned magic historian Professor Eddie Dawes died on Friday 3rd March 2023. He’d had a couple of days in hospital and sadly developed pneumonia. Eddie was 97 and was born in Goole in the West Riding of Yorkshire on 6th July 1925, named Edwin Alfred Dawes, but of course no one called him Edwin, he was always Eddie to all his friends.

Eddie was without doubt the world’s leading authority on magic history, internationally recognised by numerous awards from many organisations. As Ricky Jay said in the March 2011 Genii magazine, “I marvel at the outpouring of his books, monographs, commentaries, reviews, introductions, and opuscules. He is a treasure”. He will be much missed by so many who would ‘Ask Eddie’ for help with their magic history research. Collect, Collate and Communicate were Eddie’s three Cs of magic history research and communicate he did with an amazing output of publications. Just take a look at Eddie’s Wiki page, there’s a list of his many achievements including Eddie’s scientific work.

Eddie was a stalwart on the Hull Magicians’ Circle Quiz team when they participated in the annual, fun, magical quiz nights for northern magic clubs organised by Mike Shepherd of Castle Magic. Hull were frequent winners. On one occasion, quiz master Mike asked for a date, to the nearest decade, of an historic magic poster. Eddie's reply was not just the decade but the year of publication, information about the tour, the printer, details of the different editions and facts about the trick depicted. The opposing team rose as one and waved white hankies!

Eddie was Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Hull from 1963 to 1990 where as Chairman of the library committee he was a friend of the poet Philip Larkin. Later Eddie became chair of the Philip Larkin Society. Eddie loved cricket and rugby, sports he had participated in as a young man. Eddie was married to Amy Dawes for over sixty years and said in an interview, “everything I have achieved in my work and in magic I could not have done without the help and support of Amy by my side”. As the duo Professor Bluffman and Madame Patrice they created a successful stage act , Only Make Believe, appearing on the IBM British Ring Gala show in 1958. Over the years Eddie made several television appearances.

After Amy’s death in 2014 he adapted to looking after himself. Lately with the amazing help and resourcefulness of his sons Mike and Adrian he was enabled, despite advancing years and increasing frailty , to remain independent and relatively mobile and active in Dane Hill, Anlaby, surrounded by his books and magical archive so important in his continuing magical research. Eddie was President of Hull Magicians’ Circle since 1965 and did so much to sustain and help the Circle. He was awarded the Gold Medal of The Magic Circle, one of only ten recipients and was President of the British Ring IBM in 1973, later becoming a Vice President. Eddie’s magical links with Scotland, he lectured at the University of Glasgow from 1951 to 1963, were recognised when in 1974 he was made Honorary Life President of the Scottish Conjurers Association. Eddie and Amy’s hospitality was legendary and their visitors' book reads like a who’s who of magic. Eddie’s kindness and generosity was well known to his friends and others - he continued receiving queries for help on magical history topics to the last and was always happy to share his knowledge.

Eddie’s many books and writings will live on as a lasting legacy of his scholarly research and knowledge culminating in the current publication of nine volumes of The Rich Cabinet Collection comprising forty-eight years of his magical research published by Magicana. Sincere sympathy and condolences are extended to Eddie’s family including the latest addition to the Dawes’ clan, his great granddaughter Freya.

There are countless magical friends, readers, acquaintances whose lives Eddie touched and will greatly miss him.

Jon Marshall , March 2023