Steve Short's Harry Stanley Lecture

The Modern Mystic League
May 2021
Reviewed by Brian Lead

Steve Short holds the record as our most frequent lecturer, who has delivered talks on a wide range of topics, from David Nixon and Alan Shaxon to Johnny Hart and the Supreme Magic Company. Members turned out via Zoom on May 9th to welcome him again with his latest presentation on ‘The Unique Harry Stanley’.

There was, of course, a focus on the Unique years, when Harry ran the Unique Magic Studio with the assistance of the legendary Ken Brooke. We heard about his publishing ventures, notably with the Lewis Ganson books, and the long-running Gen magazine. There was an amusing anecdote relating to Tommy Cooper, and the occasion when Orson Welles helped to pack up copies of the Gen magazine. We soon moved on to Harry’s associations with the likes of Ali Bongo, Jack Hughes and Gil Leaney and his production in the mid-1950s of the television programme Focus on Hocus, fronted by David Jacobs.

Steve invited John Henley to the presentation, who spoke about teaming up with Remo Inzani in 1959 to form the Inzani-Henley partnership, well known for producing high quality apparatus. John contributed some fascinating observations and stories relating to magic and its practitioners.

Steve has a relaxed, easy delivery, underpinned with a gentle sense of humour, and his name on the programme always ensures a good attendance. All his presentations are supported by a wealth of documents and film clips; the result of many hours of meticulous research. Steve’s presentations appeal to all who are interested in the art of magic. The knowledgeable invariably discover something new, while those coming fresh to the topic are immediately absorbed and engaged as Steve brings performers of the past back into our presence.

We look forward to his next visit, when his current project on Ali Bongo has been completed.

© Brian Lead, May 2021