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He began practicing magic in 1946, as a teenager. He studied physics and mathematics at Cambridge University; whilst there he was also secretary of the Pentacle Club.
He was employed as a patent agent and later computer expert, but his true love was card and close-up magic.
He created a number of classic sleights and effects, including the Ghost Count (Elmsley Count), Between Your Palms, Point Of Departure and Diamond Cut Diamond. See also The Mathematics of the Weave Shuffle (Faro Shuffle) in The Pentagram, Vol. 11, No. 9-10-11 de June, July, August 1957.
- Academy of Magical Arts Creative Fellowship in 1972.
- "Low Cunning" lecture notes (1957).
- "Low Cunning" lecture notes for US (1959).
- "Cardwork" lecture notes (1975)
- 4 Card Trick (1967)
- The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley (vol. 1 1991, vol. 2 1994) written by Stephen Minch.