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Poster - Poster advertising the Wizard of the North at the Theatre Royal Adelphi, 1841
  • Poster advertising the Wizard of the North at the Theatre Royal Adelphi, 1841
    Francis, Richard
  • Enlarge image

Poster advertising the Wizard of the North at the Theatre Royal Adelphi, 1841

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (printed)

  • Date:

    1841 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Francis, Richard (printed)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    printing ink on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Gabrielle Enthoven Collection

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

'Professor' John Henry Anderson (1814-1874), the Scottish magician and theatrical entrepreneur better known as 'The Wizard of the North', was the showman and philanthropist regarded as the first magician to raise magic from street performance to a respectable theatrical event through his flair for publicity and his expertise with astonishing illusions including the bullet-catching act. He is seen here performing his 'Unlucky Umbrella' act, one of the acts described on the poster. Anderson began performing magic aged seventeen and started a travelling show in 1837, aged twenty-three. He settled in London in 1840 where he performed at the New Strand Theatre and in August 1845 opened his own 5,000-seat theatre the City Theatre on Glasgow Green, for which from 8th to 19th September 1845 he engaged an operatic company headed by the well-known tenor Sims Reeves. The theatre burned down in November 1845, only four months after its opening, but through the assistance of friends Anderson started a new London company at Covent Garden Theatre in 1846 and went on to perform around Europe, and in 1849 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

The magic acts or 'wonders' to be performed at the Theatre Royal Adelphi are described on this poster in antiquated or pseudo-scientific language that conjures up a sense of mystery, and the typeface spelling out the Wizard's name is imaginatively composed of goblin-like figures. The illustrations on his posters were regularly changed to publicise his many tricks. This poster advertises the Wizard’s run of performances at London’s Adelphi Theatre for the week beginning Monday 14th June, and notes that Monday’s performance will be a Benefit for the employees of Astley’s Amphitheatre who are out of work due to the disastrous fire that destroyed the circus the previous week, on the 8th June. ‘Professor’ Anderson became well known for his charitable work, and it is ironic that the theatre he was to build himself in Glasgow would also burn down.

Physical description

Letterpress posted illustrated with a woodcut depicting John Henry Anderson performing the Unlucky Umbrella act, and a list of the Wizard's 'Wonders' that he will perform, including The Three Silver Cups of Herculaneum, Wings against Wheels, or the Flying Watch, the King of Brobdignag's Dice and Silver Dice Box, the Card of Cadmus, the Mill and the Fairy Miller, the Dancing Half Crowns, the Golden Circlet of Cynthia, or the Ring of Rhadamanthus, the Inconsumable Bank of England Note, the Asbestos Handkerchief, the Locomotive Handkerchief, Hatching Eggs by Magic, the Egyptian Astrologer!, the Unlucky Umbrella, Divination a la Dolland, or the Telescopic Tell Tale, Moselle a la C-rd-g-n, or the Real Infernal Black Bottle! Versus Balls and No Balls!

The poster includes the line: 'Fire at Astley's Amphitheatre' noting that the performance on Monday 14th June will be a Benefit performance for the Company of Astley's out of work because of the fire.

Place of Origin

London (printed)


1841 (printed)


Francis, Richard (printed)

Materials and Techniques

printing ink on paper


Height: 50.2 cm, Width: 24.8 cm

Descriptive line

Poster advertising a performance by the magician, the Wizard of the North, Theatre Royal, Adelphi, 14 June 1841


Posters; Theatre


Theatre and Performance Collection

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