Happy Birthday, Joseph Leeming

By Tom Interval

Joseph Leeming, author, circa 1968 (Photo courtesy of Nancy Leeming)

Joseph Leeming, author, circa 1968 (Photo courtesy of Nancy Leeming)

Today marks what would have been Joseph Leeming’s 121st birthday. Yes, it would take some real magic to reach that age, but Leeming’s written legacy will endure much longer than that.

For the younger lads not familiar with his name, Leeming, born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 15, 1897, was an author who penned 59 nonfiction books on a variety of topics, including magic, puzzles, games, crafts, ships, history, and business.

He wrote most of those books for children and devoted ten of them to magic. Conjuring enthusiasts worldwide fondly remember checking out from the library such works as Fun With Magic, The Real Book about Magic, and Tricks and Stunts with Playing Cards.

When Leeming wasn’t writing, he worked as a news editor, writer, and public-affairs officer for the United States Department of State (DOS) and served as an information officer at the Department of the United States Information Agency (USIA). He retired in 1960 and died on September 26, 1968, in Folkestone, England, in Spade House, where English writer H.G. Wells lived about 60 years earlier.

Since Leeming’s death, thousands of magic books have been written. While many of them have replaced his volumes, which once dominated the shelves of school and public libraries, few have the same charm as Leeming’s, thanks, in part, to the spirited illustrations of Jessie Robinson. Sadly, even if Leeming’s books were still prevalent in libraries, children are less likely to stumble upon them since they don’t frequent those libraries as often—all the more reason to preserve Leeming’s memory.

In the months ahead, as time allows, I’ll research Leeming in more detail and possibly publish a longer article about him because he’s a man most magicians know virtually nothing about. In fact, to my knowledge, besides the 1927 newspaper image of him I posted on MagicPedia a couple of months ago, no photo of him exists in any reference materials, at least the ones I have access to. Fortunately, Nancy Leeming, Joseph’s daughter-in-law, was kind enough to provide me with the picture that accompanies this article.

Happy birthday, Joseph, and thank you for helping to nourish my interest in magic, just as you did for three generations of aspiring magicians.

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About Interval Magic

Magician Tom Interval, owner of San Diego-based Interval Magic, provides magic entertainment and training to private and corporate clients locally and throughout the United States. A member of the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA), International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM), and Society of American Magicians (SAM), Interval has captivated tens of thousands of people at numerous venues, including Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he performed as a medieval conjurer, trained employees of the magic shop, and promoted the park on several local TV talk shows along the East Coast. As an entertainer, business owner, and former marketing communications professional, Interval understands that the success of any event depends on how satisfied his clients' guests are. Whether it’s a trade show or 50th wedding anniversary, Interval is dedicated to providing his audiences with a highly visual, interactive, mind-boggling magic experience they’ll remember and talk about for years to come. To learn more, please visit www.intervalmagic.com.
This entry was posted in Authors, Birthdays, Books, Books, Cards, Fun with Magic, Illustrators, Jessie Robinson, Joseph Leeming, Learning, Magicpedia, Photos, Reading, Resources, Tricks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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