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Walter B. Gibson

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Walter B. Gibson

On cover of Legerdemain (March 1981)
BornWalter Brown Gibson
September 12, 1897
Germantown, Pennsylvania
DiedDecember 06, 1985 (age 88)
Kingston, New York
Resting placeBlock D, Section 2, Lot 110, Montrepose Cemetery, Kingston, New York

Walter Brown Gibson (b.1897-d.1985) was an American author and a professional magician best known for his work on The Shadow. Gibson, under the pen-name Maxwell Grant, wrote Shadow stories at an amazing rate to satisfy public demand during the character's golden age in the 1930s and 1940s.

He was married to Litzka R. Gibson, also a writer, and the couple lived in New York state.

In a 1956 bok on hypnotism, he identified himself as the "producer and narrator of American Broadcasting Company's program 'Strange,' the vice-president of the Magician's Guild of America, and past president of the Philadelphia Assembly, Society of American Magicians."

The Shadow

Gibson wrote the first Shadow story in 1931, creating a character around the narrator of the Detective Stories radio drama. He was very prolific, writing 282 out of 325 Shadow novels, at a top rate of two novels per month.

Gibson is recognized as the creator of much of The Shadow's mythos, although his tales frequently conflict with the better-known radio version. For example, Gibson's Shadow is, in reality, Kent Allard, an aviator who sometimes posed as playboy Lamont Cranston. On the radio, The Shadow really is Cranston, a "wealthy young man about town." Similarly, Shadow companion Margo Lane arose not from the pulps but from the radio program; she was added to offer a contrasting female voice.

Magic and other non-fiction

Gibson wrote more than 100 books on magic, psychic phenomena, true crime, mysteries, rope knots, yoga, hypnotism, and games. He served as ghost-writer for books on magic and/or spiritualism by Harry Houdini, Howard Thurston, Harry Blackstone, and Joseph Dunninger. Gibson also introduced the famous "Chinese linking rings" trick in America, and invented the Nickels To Dimes trick that is still sold in magic stores to this day.

With his wife Litzka R. Gibson, he co-wrote The Complete Illustrated Book of the Psychic Sciences, (Doubleday, 1966), a 404 page book which explains how to practice many popular forms of divination and fortune-telling, including astrology, tasseography, graphology, and numerology. Litzka Gibson, who sometimes used the pen-name Leona Lehman, also wrote her own books on topics as diverse as palmistry, dancing, and personal hygiene.

Awards and honors

Books ghost-written


Further reading

  • Man of Magic & Mystery; A Guide to the Work of Walter B. Gibson, by J. Randolph Cox (1988; Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, NJ), is a bibliography of Gibson's works.
  • Walter B. Gibson and The Shadow, by Thomas J. Shimeld (2205; McFarland & Company; ISBN 978-0786423613), is a biography of Walter Gibson.


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