Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin

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Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin (December 7, 1805 – June 13, 1871) was a French magician. He is widely considered the father of the modern style of conjuring.[1]

Contents

Early life and entrance into conjuring

Robert-Houdin was born Jean Eugène Robert in Blois, France, on 7 December 1805—a day after his autobiography said he was.[2][3] His father Prosper Robert was one of the best watchmakers in Blois. A skillful artisan and hard worker, Prosper Robert's main ambition was to provide for his family, but he also wanted his children to climb the social ladder. Jean Eugene's mother, the former Marie-Catherine Guillon, died when Jean was just a young child.[3] At the age of eleven, Prosper sent his son Jean to school thirty-five miles up the Loire to the University of Orléans. (The college was equivalent to American secondary school.)[2] At 18, Jean graduated and returned to Blois. His father wanted him to be a lawyer,[3] but Jean wanted to follow into his father’s footsteps as a watchmaker.

Jean’s penmanship was excellent, and it landed him a job as a clerk for an attorney’s office. Instead of studying law, he tinkered with mechanical gadgets. His employer sent him back to his father. He was told that he was better suited as a watchmaker than a lawyer. But by then, Jean’s father had already retired so he became an apprentice to his cousin who had a watch shop. For a short time, Jean worked as a watchmaker.[3]

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