Martin Breese. The passing of one of magic’s finest gentlemen.

One of the phrases you hear bandied about in a jocular manner by people is, “You are a gentleman and a scholar.” It usually means nothing when it is said and often has that slight put down/ironic tone that magicians love to use with one another. Well, let me say it loud and clear, Martin Breese WAS a scholar and a gentleman. He was special.

Martin’s vision, love and passion for magic was never more than an inch from the surface of this remarkable man. He always credited Goodliffe with his early steps into the act of becoming one of the great presences in the magic world. Indeed his relationship with Goodliffe is a wonderful story that Martin has told in part in the fascinating newsletters that he shared with the fraternity. I hope the full story of Martin Breese will be shared one day.

To many people, their first real ‘wake-up’ call to this amazing man was the release of his series of Magicassettes, soon after his return to England from South Africa in the 1970s. They allowed magicians to be heard in their own voices as they shared insights that would otherwise have been lost. I treasure my copies of the series of cassettes he created. They are a living link in our magical heritage and go beyond the tricks and right to the heart of the performers.

Martin was also a publisher of many books that hold a special place in my heart. His loving dedication to improving and adding to our heritage was evident in each and every project. His recent work in updating and completing the world’s knowledge of the works of the great Al Koran, stands almost unique in the loving care and detail he poured into it. It was awesome to watch his dedication to this massive project

Breese loved magic with a passion and it showed in every aspect of his life. However, there was much more to Martin’s world than just magic. He was a world-class photographer, and brought his visual skills to everything he did. I remember standing in his home in Brighton and being swept away with the all to seldom awareness that it was the home of a true aesthete who combined taste and practicality into his surroundings in a very special way.

On the wall above the staircase was a ‘Banksy’ picture, in his library were first editions of great books. Martin was a person who recognized quality and greatness in any form it was demonstrated, hardly surprising as he embodied both qualities. He was an artist, a visionary and a businessman who allowed each quality to feed from the other and enrich the person he was.

On a personal level, I personally am all too aware of his kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity. Not just with things but with his powerful and vital energy. Even as he was ferociously and bravely battling for his life in his final weeks, he never stopped communicating with me, helping me become a better writer and magician. He really cared, in a world where most peoples caring centers around themselves. Martin cared about ideas, standards and other people, knowing that Martin was reading and analyzing what I wrote and did made me strive harder to accomplish more.

The passing of Martin Breese has robbed the magic world of one of its greatest characters and benefactors. He is one of the great men I have been blessed to know in this business. My sympathy, love and blessings go out to his lovely wife Pang, his family and all those others like myself who have been robbed of someone this special.

I am heartbroken at this loss.

~ by Nick Lewin on February 23, 2012.

12 Responses to “Martin Breese. The passing of one of magic’s finest gentlemen.”

  1. Well written. A great gentleman who will surely be missed. RIP

  2. When I started my Magic Career in the UK in the late 80’s Martin was there for me. I have many great memories of visiting with him at his home in Nottinghill Gate. My wife and I still spent a Christmas with him in 1989 and he gave me the best book prediction ever, The Key, as a Christmas present. I still use it today. He was without a doubt the most giving and gentle man in magic. We kept in touch throughout the years and I always looked up to Martin as my big brother in magic. I had such fun releasing my life works and Martin’s first E-Book with him last year.I have not cried in 30 years, yesterday when I received the news, I was in tears. This is a huge loss for the magic fraternity and I will always see Martin as one of the Greats. You are dearly missed my friend!

  3. Thank you Wolfgang. Martin mentioned you many times and sent me a copy of the great ebook of your material he recently released. I really enjoyed it. We will all mourn this as you so rightly put it gentle man. Thank you for commenting.

  4. It was with great sadness to hear the news about Martin Breese as we had been friends for nearly 20 years. He came over to Thailand when he met Pang and we all spent a wonderful time together at the Felix Resort overlooking the bridge on the River Kwai. I was looking forward to seeing him again when I am back in England this July but sadly that will not now be possible.

    Tony Curtis

    Bangkok Thailand

  5. Dear Nick I had not seen your article before so it came as quite an emotional shock plus I had never seen that particular photo of Martin in his office before. I was browsing the net looking for references of Martin as a photographer! There are funny times, like when he forgot to put the film in the camera on our honeymoon in Bodrum, Turkey. That was not so funny at the time. Perhaps he was excited about getting married again! I was his wife for 25 years – Jilliana and I was responsible for bringing Martin into the world of antique collecfables and encouraginghim to go to Antiquarian book fairs sourcing Modern First Editions. He later published the out of print book Breese’s Guide to Modern First Editions and their values and was at the time one of the UK’s top authorities on their values. He also had a big collection alongside his large Magic Book Collection. His Magicassettes ended up in the London UK Sound Archives for evermore. Reading your fine piece of writing, almost exactly a year after his passing, brought a tear to my eye. He was indeed a wonderful man. His funeral was like a scene from a movie and the party after in Brighton was a Magic show and a tribute in itself. There was even a South African Rabbi who never even knew Martin who gatecrashed! We remained friends for life and even though he has departed this life, he is mentioned almost everyday amongst his intimate group of friends. He is sadly missed by all who knew him in his personal life. Jilliana Ranicar-Breese
    His photographs can be viewed on my website which is

  6. Thank you for your fascinating comments! Martin was indeed a remarkable and unique person. I took the photo of Martin—I have tried to photograph all my favorite people sitting at their desks, it says so much about them. I will look forward to checking out your archive of his photos. He was truly a gifted man in so many areas, not least of all his extraordinarily generous and multi-talented skills. We was ana IS an inspiration to me.

  7. I used to live in Milson Road, just around the corner from Richmond Way. I would often pop down to the basement, spending what little money I had on the odd trick or two. Always excited to see him demonstrate the new items. I remember him chopping my hand off at one point. He certainly helped me gain an interest in magic that is still with me today. Sleep well…

  8. he was my friend and always will be even thow he is not here he is and will always be in my hart al glinda glennan

  9. Reading these responses is very much an indication of what a unique and caring person Martin was. Both Susan and i miss him very much and often talk about him. We did not know him as well as the people who commented on my blog—however to know Martin was to be embraced in his very special way. In our fledgling magic business one of our constant ideals is to ask each other what we think Martin would have done.

  10. He was a really good friend, I youst to make for him, he did not deserve to go the way he did,,when he went I stopped making magic tricks, also salt poor. Self manipulation ball ,card swards,,that looked like real ones,and still have magic trick I have invented that no one will ever see,and by the way I gave to Martin, the trick that fooled pat page,I invented that ,I think of you often Martin love al,glinda,glennan rip xx

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