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John Northern Hilliard

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John Northern Hilliard
BornAugust 18, 1872
Palmyra, New York
DiedMarch 14, 1935 (age 62)
Indianapolis, Indiana
Resting placeMont Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New York
Notable worksGreater Magic
CategoriesBooks by John Northern Hilliard

John Northern Hilliard (1872 - 1935) was a Rochester newspaper man and clever amateur magician.


Hilliard was dramatic critic with The Chicago Herald and later on the staff of The Rochester (N. Y.) Post Express. After moving to New York, he met Howard Thurston while a reporter on The New York World and became interested in magic. John was credited with securing the master magician with his first engagement on the stage. Several years later Thurston induced Hilliard to give up his newspaper work and become his personal representative.

With the urging of Floyd G. Thayer, John starting writing for Thayer's Magical Bulletin magazine.

In 1925, Hilliard became an advance man for The Thurston show. During this time he accumulated notes on what he was learning about magic.

In 1932, Carl Waring Jones urged him to turn his notes into a book, offering to publish it. But Hilliard suddenly died of a heart attack in 1935 while in a hotel room in Indianapolis.

His friends stepped in, turning his notes into the book that he had intended, one for magical profession only. Jean Hugard helped Carl Jones with editing and writing. Harlan Tarbell made the illustrations. In 1938, Hilliard's Greater Magic was published posthumously, followed by the publication of of Kaufman's reprint which included a new section called More Greater Magic.

Hundreds of the tricks Hilliard had collected though were still missing. There was a great hubbub about the missing material. It was not until the 1990s that a box full of old magic catalogs was sold at an auction and at the bottom of this box (not even listed in the contents) were two old notebooks-hundreds of typed pages in brown leatherette bindings. A facsimile edition reprint of these two missing notebooks were published by Genii Books as The Lost Notebooks of John Northern Hilliard

In Linking Ring, Vol. 39, no. 11, January 1960, page 35, John Braun wrote:

"I have before me a little booklet sold by Howard Thurston, "the world's great magician", in 1912. It is about 4 x 6 inches in size; 112 pages; binding, heavy orange art paper, with the youthful Howard's picture on the cover. It was printed by The Pfeifer Show Print Co., and its title is Thurston's One Hundred Tricks You Can Do, With Astrological Reading of Your Life. It sold for 25 cents. On the inside front cover a book is announced. Here is what it says: "In preparation - QUALITY MAGIC - A new and comprehensive text book of down-to-date magic, containing only the Latest Sleights, Tricks and Illusions for the Amateur and the Professional Magicians. By Howard Thurston and John Northern Hilliard. With contributions by Bert Adams, Theo Bamberg, A. M. Wilson, M. D., and other experts. This volume will contain only what is new in the magic of cards, coins, handkerchiefs, billiard balls and kindred objets, every trick minutely explained and illustrated with half-tone engravings. 200 pages, bound in cloth - Price, One Dollar. Send name for subscription, money to be fowarded on notification, to Thurston's Mystic Palace, Cos Cob, Conn."

What a pity that book never saw the light of day! perhaps the material was stored away in John Northern Hilliard's mind and notebooks until he began to write Greater Magic! When shall we see the likes of such a book again?"


  • The Climbing Ring (1899)
  • The Invisible Flight (1899)
  • The Mysterious Coins (1904)
  • Twentieth Century Telepathy (1905)
  • The Dyeing Handkerchief (1905)
  • The Triple Mystery (1924)
  • The Great Poker Trick
  • Experiment in Mind Reading
  • Two Souls With But a Single Though
  • Date Divination
  • An Original Magazine Test
  • A Think Stop Trick
  • A Dictionary Trick
  • A Two Person Code