by James B. Alfredson
The name Jean Hugard has been part of my magical experience since I began buying and studying magic books. The Royal Road to Card Magic and Expert Card Technique (co-authored with Fred Braue) were (and are) two of the most important books in my library. But Hugard died when I was seven years old, so, to me, he was always just a name on a book cover. This fascinating biography by James Alfredson gave me a chance to finally learn about the man behind the name.
Hugard was Australian (his real name was John Gerard Rodney Boyce), and he was born in 1871. In the early 1900's he performed under the name Oscar Kellmann, and later changed his name to Hugarde. For a time he added a continental flavor by billing his show as Les Hugardes, but this was too hip for the New Zealanders of the time, who kept asking where Les was. (I'm not making this up.) He dropped the final "e" sometime around 1909, and in 1916 left Australia for the United States.
It is as an author and teacher, rather than a performer, for which Hugard is remembered, and besides the two books mentioned above his works include Card Manipulations 1-5, More Card Manipulations 1-4, Miracle Methods 1-3, Show Stoppers with Cards, Modern Magic Manual, and the wonderful magazine Hugard's Magic Monthly. What I was unaware of were the books which were "ghosted" by Hugard, including Greater Magic, The Fine Art of Magic (for George Kaplan), Mental Magic (for Al Baker), and Effective Card Magic (for Bill Simon).
I very much enjoyed this biography of one of magic's most important authors and teachers. It brought me closer to someone who, until now, had just been a name. I think you'll enjoy this book, too.
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