An illusionist of the grand order … but did Jasper Maskelyne really create all of the wartime deceptions to fool the enemy that he claimed?

Coming from a family of magicians, Maskelyne performed successfully on stage during the 1930s and ’40s and felt his skills would be valuable to British Intelligence. To prove a point, there is a claim that he created a German warship on the River Thames using mirrors and a model. He was allegedly recruited by MI9, a division of military intelligence to devise ingenious forms of camouflage for the desert campaign. A series of small secret devices he created were also said to have helped prisoners of war escape from captivity.

But, a great deal of mystery surrounds the exploits of this rather eccentric magician. There are even claims that Maskelyne single-handedly masterminded the British Army’s success in the Western Desert. Separating fact from fiction has not been easy, but in this fascinating illustrated talk, with some deceptive magic included for good measure, Steve Short believes he has discovered the real Jasper Maskelyne.

Informative and entertaining talk

“Many thanks for coming down to Duxford and delivering such an informative and entertaining talk. It was obvious that our members thoroughly enjoyed it and to that end I will tell you that I have had three phone conversations on Rotary business this morning all of which included complimentary comment on last evening.”

George Howard

Entertaining evening

“The Guilt Cross Group of WI.s had a very good and entertaining evening by Steve Short who is a professional magician and member of The Magic Circle. He gave us a talk and slide presentation on the life and career of David Nixon. The talk included many facts not known to the general public. Steve also showed some episodes from David’s television shows which brought back many happy memories to all of us. Would highly recommend this evening.”

Heather Kenny

Enjoyed it all immensely

“Thank you so much for attending our club and entertaining us with your talk and films about David Nixon’s life and career. The members enjoyed it all immensely. Also many thanks for the magic you performed. Yet another thank you for the distance you traveled to attend. It was a pleasure to meet you and your enthusiasm was very well received by us all.”

Christine Knight


“The business presentation by Steve was excellent. A business seminar needs to have presenters with a character and flair to maintain interest to a more often than not, hurried and stressful group. To perform amongst one’s own peers is a very enviable skill. To present in a manner which is constructive and supportive is essential. It would be easier for someone with the magical talents and experience of Steve to talk down to a group or be self opinionated when in fact Steve took us all on a journey of intrigue, enlightenment and realisation of some of the qualities we should all consider and be conscious of in business. Thoughtful and thought provoking. Excellent.”

Jonathan Smith (Lemon|Cherry Ltd)