Obituary: Lewis Jones – magician, writer, teacher, and skeptic

Mike Hutchinson
Mike Hutchinson has been associated with The Skeptic since its beginnings in 1987. He represented Prometheus Books in Europe until 1998 and is the European subscription representative for Skeptical Inquirer. He is the co-author of the skeptical book “Bizarre Beliefs” and was twice sued for libel by Uri Geller. He can be contacted at mikehutch@skeptic.org.uk.

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Lewis Jones - an older white man with a bald head and a short white beard and moustache. He is smiling at the camera.

Lewis Jones died on 9th September 2021. He would have been 97 in November. He will be best known by skeptics for writing around eighty articles for Skeptical Briefs under his column “Inklings”. 

I first met Lewis in 1980 when I represented Prometheus Books in Europe. Lewis telephoned me to order “The Psychology of the Psychic” and “ESP and Parapsychology”. In our long conversation it transpired that we had much in common, not only as skeptics but also an interest in magic. Lewis has been a prolific inventor of magic and has had many books published with his clever tricks. These include “Encyclopedia of Impromptu Card Forces”, “Ahead of the Pack”, and “Seventh Heaven”, the latter being a collection of the best effects of his first seven books. Now out of print, Seventh Heaven is still in great demand by magicians. His effects included cards, coins, business cards, and calendars. See lewisjonesmagic.co.uk for plaudits given to Lewis by magicians. Before he died Lewis had arranged for many of his books to be re-published by an American company. An announcement about this will be posted to Lewis’s website in November.

In Paul Daniels’ BBC magic show broadcast on 22nd February 1992 Paul and Debbie McGee presented a mind reading effect which Lewis had published in “Person to Person: a Book of Telephone Telepathy”. It was only when watching the show that he knew his effect was being used. Lewis’s effect “Pattern Principle” formed part of the effect that Rick Lax used to fool Penn and Teller.

Lewis had an interesting and successful life. He studied Modern Languages at Cambridge University. For a short time he was a teacher at Summerhill School which describes itself as “…the oldest children’s democracy in the world. It is probably the most famous alternative or ‘free’ school.”

After leaving Cambridge he immediately began writing radio drama and short stories for the BBC. He then spent 10 years in Singapore as a presenter, producer and news reader for national radio, and is now an honorary member of Singapore’s IBM Ring 115 – the Great Wong Ring. He was eventually thrown out of Singapore for interviewing someone disapproved of by the first Prime Minister, Lee Kwan Yew.

The good thing about his stay in Singapore is that he met his delightful wife Sush Devi who came to England with him and played lead violin for the English National Opera. Lewis too was a musician, playing piano. He arranged a selection of Beatles’ songs and other works for Sush’s string quartet which they played at many venues, including the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank.

Settling in London, Lewis initially wrote schools radio scripts for the BBC, but later became an editor for both Longman and Collins publishers.

Lewis is survived by Sush, his daughter Lynne, son Dale, three grandsons, and seven great-grandchildren.

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