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William Hilliar

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William Hilliar
BornWilliam John Hilliar
November 27, 1876
Oxford, England
DiedNovember 15, 1936 (age 59)
Cincinnati, Ohio
CategoriesBooks by William Hilliar

William "Bill" Hilliar (November 27, 1876 - November 15, 1936), born in England, was a professional magician that performed in vaudeville and was founder of the Sphinx magazine.


For many years he was with the Barnum and Bailey Circus and other large circuses in charge of the side shows.

In the January 1901 issue of Mahatma, it was announced that he would start to contribute a column of interesting ideas to the paper beginning with the next issue. The first article would be devoted to shadow pictures. He moved to the United States in 1902.

He ghost-wrote T. Nelson Down's book Modern Coin Manipulation and wrote his own book Modern Magician's Hand Book (1902). He also most likely ghost-wrote Howard Thurston's Card Tricks(1901) and wrote the column on magic for The Billboard magazine.

He once performed, in disguise, as Howard Thurston while Thurston was sick.

Hilliar committed suicide by shooting himself just before his 60th birthday.



  • Cover, Mahatma, Vol. 4, No. 6, December 1900, William J. Hilliar, page 423
  • Cover, The Sphinx, Vol. 17, No. 1, March 1918
  • The Sphinx, Vol. 18, No. 1, March 1919, My Five Years in America and Magical Enthusiasts I Have Met, by Will Bland - Mr. William J. Hilliar, page 19
  • Cover, The Linking Ring, Vol. 7, No. 1, September 1927, William J. Hilliar (Ostagazuzulum), page 579
  • Cover, The Sphinx, Vol. 29. No. 7, September 1930
  • The Sphinx, Vol. 31, No. 1, March 1932, Pictorial Section, William J. Hilliar, page 24
  • Goldston's Magical Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 3, Winter 1936, William John Hillar, A Personal Tribute by W. Goldstone, page 227
  • The Sphinx, Vol. 35, No. 10, December 1936, The Founder of The Sphinx, William John Hilliar, Dies, page 277
  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 31, No. 12, February 1942, William J. Hilliar – Master of Ballyhoo, by A. Richard Harrow, page 38
  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 35, No. 4, June 1955, Great Magicians I Have Seen, by John Hunniford – Bill Hilliar, page 49
  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 66, No. 1, January 1986, Memoirs Of A Magician's Ghost, by John Booth, CHAPTER 198 – The Sphinx that Told Secrets!, page 53
  • The Magic Circular, Vol. 86, No. 929 September-October 1992, A Rich Cabinet, by Edwin A. Dawes, 187. William J. “Big Bill” Hilliar: Early Years in Britain, page 178
  • The Magic Circular, Vol. 87, No. 932, January 1993, A Rich Cabinet, by Edwin A. Dawes, 190. William J. Hilliar and the Novel Concept Of A Published Magician’s Scrapbook, page 8
  • The Magic Circular, Vol. 87, No. 933, February-March 1993, A Rich Cabinet, by Edwin A. Dawes, 191. William Hilliar: "Ostagazuzulum", Barnum, Bailey and the Billboard, page 26
  • The Magic Circular, Vol. 87, No. 935, May 1993, A Rich Cabinet, by Edwin A. Dawes, 190. William J. Hilliar: The Final Years, page 76