Edwin A. Dawes Award
for Magic Scholarship

While the magic art has been blessed with a number of notable historians over the past one hundred and thirty-five years, Dr. Edwin A. Dawes was preeminent among them. In honour and recognition of Dr. Dawes and his incredible body of work in magic history, Magicana established a bursary, in 2010, to support and assist individuals pursuing doctoral studies related to magic. The award was created to help contribute toward costs connected with materials and research pertaining to his or her doctorate.



Applicants are asked to submit a brief abstract summary of the topic (two-pages), budget summary outlining use of funds (one to two pages) and evidence of acceptance in a doctoral program to

Bursaries are awarded based on the recommendation of a committee.

Current committee members are: James Hagy (United States), Jan Janson (France) and Daniel Zuckerbrot (Canada).




Dr. Dawes was born July 6, 1925, in Goole, England, and cultivated his lifelong passions for science and magic early in his boyhood years. His interest in science led to a distinguished career as a professor of biochemistry, during which, among other things, he led a research group which developed the first completely biodegradable plastic, contributed numerous important research papers, and wrote two textbooks, Quantitative Problems in Biochemistry (1956), which went through six editions and was translated into seven languages, and Microbial Energetics (1986).

In 1992, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science by the University of Hull in recognition of his exceptional contributions to science. After his official retirement, he continued to serve and participate in the international scientific community in various capacities.

Professor Dawes’ achievements in magic are similarly impressive. To date, he has written or co-written over eighteen books and monographs. When one takes into account the many hundreds of articles, reviews and other commentary contributed to a wide variety of journals, annuals and periodicals—including “A Rich Cabinet of Magical Curiosities,” the monumental monthly series published in The Magic Circular since 1972—he is probably the most prolific author in the field of conjuring history.

While such voluminous output alone would serve to distinguish Dawes in the pantheon of conjuring historians, even more remarkable is the consistent excellence of his scholarship and writing. His work is highly regarded in the international magic community due to a combination of its trustworthiness, which derives from his unflagging efforts to seek and cite credible primary source material in his research and publications, and his flair for weaving facts and broad historical perspective with engaging, gracious prose. Consequently, many of Professor Dawes’ works are considered indispensable components of a complete magic reference library.

In addition to his research and writing, Dr. Dawes has performed and lectured for audiences at universities, professional societies and literary clubs, and has appeared on several British television shows, including “Q.E.D.” and “Take Nobody’s Word for It”, as well as serving as consultant for and participant in television documentaries such as “Mysteries of Magic.” And for well over fifty years, he was also a member of and held scores of significant leadership positions in nearly a dozen American and British magical societies and associations, including The Magic Circle, the Society of American Magicians, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Scottish Conjurers’ Association, and the Hull Magicians’ Circle.

For his contributions and achievements in the field of magic, Professor Dawes has received many awards and recognition, including the Stanley Collins Memorial Award, the John Nevil Maskelyne Prize from The Magic Circle, a Literary Fellowship from the Academy of Magical Arts, the H. Adrian Smith Award from the Society of American Magicians, election to the Society of American Magicians’ Hall of Fame, both the Maskelyne and the David Devant Awards of The Magic Circle for services to national and international magic, respectively, and membership in the Inner Magic Circle (Gold Star) of The Magic Circle. In 2006, the Fédération Internationales des Sociétés Magiques (FISM) named him the inaugural recipient of its prestigious, triennial Award for Scholarship and Research in Magic. In 2017 he received both a Special Fellowship from the Academy of Magical Arts, and the Gold Medal from The Magic Circle for exemplary service. And in 2018, Magicana awarded him the Allan Slaight Lifetime Achievement award, recognizing his exceptional commitment to advancing magic as a performing art and for his outstanding contributions to the art.

It is most fitting that a bursary of this nature be named after Dr. Dawes, for, despite being among the very finest historians magic has ever had, he eschews elitism and remains at heart an enthusiastic, humble student, eager to share with, assist, and learn from neophytes and veterans alike when there is knowledge to be gained or history to be advanced, thus exemplifying the very ideal of scholarship. 

Dr. Edwin A. Dawes passed away on March 3, 2023. He was 97.