storyquine's snaps

By storyquine

Wizard of the North

Gotta be my favourite gravestone at St Nicholas Kirkyard - that of John Henry Anderson, and his mum.

He was a great conjurer and showman, travelling to the States and Russia to perform his over-the-top magic shows and generally tooting his ain horn! But his humble origins as a mason's apprentice are clear even here. At the age of 16 his mother died, she was already a widow, John's father having predeceased her, but he made sure she would not be forgotten. The wonderful wording is just pure Wizard... I only noticed the other day it says the orphans 'weept' not wept!

John became head of the household and worked to look after his younger siblings, but eventually he went off and indulged his passion for card magic and showmanship. He got so good that Sir Walter Scott, the great writer, when having John to visit him at Abbotsford, bestowed the title 'Wizard of the North' on him, despite it first having been coined of Sir Walter himself. Transformed from the Caledonian Conjurer, 'Professor Anderson' carried on his great career, dying far off in England, yet was carried home to Aberdeen, and buried with his mother.

Harry Houdini, a showman of the next generation, came and paid tribute to the Wizard of the North on his visit to the Granite City and paid for the upkeep of John Anderson's gravestone. Think its time we made sure another modern-day magician adopted the stone and protected it, since John Anderson has almost been forgotten by the city of his birth!

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