By Tom Interval
One of the most mind-boggling tricks that magic author Joseph Leeming (1897–1968) has ever done is render himself invisible for the past 91 years.
Sure, his books have been pretty conspicuous, infiltrating virtually every library from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Pittsburg, California. And he wrote a lot of books during his lifetime: 58, to be exact, and 10 of those were all about magic, including one of the first magic books I ever read: Fun with Magic.
But somehow Leeming still managed to keep his private life, well, private, which is kind of ironic considering he spent some of his career as a public-affairs officer. Not that we nostalgic, prying types have an inherent right to know every intimate detail of his personal affairs, but he was a public figure who has inspired three generations of children to delve deeply into conjuring, crafts, games, and other recreational pursuits that will last lifetimes. We want to know more about him!
So last week I decided it was time to do some digging and update at least the Joseph Leeming Magicpedia page, which, before last Tuesday, contained very little content and listed only five of his books.
For those interested, the page, while still a work in progress, now includes a more detailed and accurate (albeit short) biography, a complete list of every book Leeming wrote during his lifetime, corrected names and dates, and a photo of the man himself—the photo that accompanies this blog article and one most people haven’t seen since 1927.
I’ll continue adding to the page as time allows. For starters, I’ll lengthen the biography, expand the book list to include posthumous and translated editions, and find a clearer photo to use. In the mean time, I’ll get you started here, and you can decided whether or not you want to read more.
Joseph Leeming (June 15, 1897–September 26, 1968) was one of magic’s most prolific American authors. During his lifetime, he wrote 11 instructional books on magic and 47 other nonfiction books about a variety of topics, such as puzzles, games, crafts, ships, history, and business. A “modern Angelo Lewis,” as Robert Lund once called him¹, Leeming sometimes wrote under pseudonyms, including Professor Paradise, Professor Zingara, Merlin Swift, and Jo-Ann Leeming. Read more >
I came across the Magicpedia page before finding this, but I can comment here!
I never actually came across his magic books growing up, but discovered his “Fun With” books (Puzzles, String, Paper) as some of the first books I checked out on my own — repeatedly. Thanks for a little more information about someone who gave me some terrific memories.
Hi Ken! My pleasure. Thanks so much for your comment. I also have fond memories of Leeming’s books. My first Leeming book—Fun with Magic—was the first magic book I ever read. After researching Leeming, I was surprised to discover there wasn’t really that much info about him out there. I plan on digging a bit deeper and writing a more detailed article when time permits. Thanks again for dropping me a line. Tom Interval