** This event will be held with an in-person audience at Conway Hall *AND* online, via Zoom. Everyone wishing to join this event must register for a ticket in advance, using the “Book Now” link **
In 1749, a newspaper advertisement appeared declaring that a man would climb inside a bottle on the stage of a London theatre. Although the crowds turned up in their hundreds to witness the trick, the performer didn’t. Over the following decades, elaborate jokes and fanciful tales would continue to bamboozle people across England.
In The Century of Deception, magician and historian Ian Keable tells the engrossing stories of these eighteenth-century hoaxes and those who were duped by them. The English public swallowed tales of rapping ghosts, a woman who gave birth to rabbits, a levitating Frenchman in a Chinese Temple and outrageous astrological predictions. Not only were the hoaxes widely influential, drawing in celebrities such as Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Swift, they also inflamed concerns about ‛English credulity’.
‘Fake news’, ‛going viral’ and ‛social media’ may be modern terms, but these concepts have been with us for centuries.
Ian Keable divides his time between performing magic; giving talks on topics ranging from James Gillray, the first political cartoonist, to David Devant, the first President of The Magic Circle; and researching and writing. His previous books include Stand-Up: A Professional Guide to Comedy Magic and Charles Dickens Magician: Conjuring in Life, Letters and Literature. His new book The Century of Deception: The Birth of the Hoax in Eighteenth-Century England will be available on the night.
** For those joining us online, we will be using the Zoom application (available for PC, Mac, iOS and Android). A link to join the talk will be sent to ticketholders before the event. **