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I Was Philip Larkin's Magician

Andrew McGibbon talks to Edwin Dawes, founder of Hull University's biochemistry department and a world renowned magician who performed tricks for his friend Philip Larkin.

Andrew McGibbon talks to Edwin Dawes, biochemist and beloved magician to Philip Larkin.

Edwin Alfred Dawes arrived at the University of Hull to establish its Biochemistry department in 1963. There he met Larkin, the poet and university librarian. They became good friends and Edwin became chairman of the library committee, working under Larkin.

But Edwin had a parallel professional interest in magic and conjuring, and Larkin was spellbound with Edwin's sleights of hand and magic skills.

Edwin wrote many notable books on biochemistry and continues with his magic, having been awarded the Gold Medal from the Magic Circle for "exemplary service to the Society or exceptional magical ability or both". He is only the ninth recipient of this award since 1926.

As well as library and magic commitments, Edwin's biochemistry department at Hull University took the lead in researching bioplastics in the early 1970s, which led to the commercialisation of Biopol, a biodegradable plastic polymer chain that can be used to make disposable plastic items, a discovery later sidelined but now the subject of renewed interest.

Written and presented by Andrew McGibbon

Producer: Nick Romero
A Curtains For Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Fri 5 Oct 2018 11:00