Paris Ormskirk

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A Domestic Incident

Paris Ormskirk (1496-1587) was a schoolmaster from the village of Clerkenwell, near London. The author of several treatises on magic, he eventually set himself to find a reliable version of the spell of summoning. After twelve years of diligent work he finally produced a spell that would become very popular for over two hundred years, although its efficiency is questionable. Indeed, the narrator of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell tells us that Strange was the first person she knew of who had any success with the spell; he used it to bring about his meeting (in a dream) with Maria Absalom[23].

Ormskirk is described as no great original thinker, but living as he did not long after the close of the Aureate age he had the advantage of being nearer to the glory days of English magic than many who succeeded him. He was of great utility in copying down and preserving many spells whose use in after years was little understood or guessed at - among them the vital spell which delivers both His majesty King George and Jonathan Strange from the danger of being beguiled away into Faerie by the gentleman with the thistle-down hair[33].

John Childermass owned a copy of Ormskirk's Revelations of Thirty-Six Other Worlds, and was careful to make it one of those few items he took with him when he left Hurtfew Abbey after his dismissal by Mr Norrell[63].

Mrs Ormskirk: the magician's lady, we are told, had her temper so soured by the domestic inconvenience occasioned by her husband's work - papers lying about on every surface, and no doubt an indifference to mealtimes and neglect of her conversation - that she became little better than a scold. In time she gave rise to the comical figure of the shrewish wife with which most fictional magicians are accommodated[23].