Derren Brown: Biography | Magic Tricks | Books and Everything Else


Derren Brown is a popular 21-century mentalist and probably the best of his generation. Stating off with his television debut, Derren Brown in 2000, he has gone on to host and produce several other shows both on stage and on television.

His performances have garnered him accolades including two Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Entertainment.

In this piece, you will learn a lot more about Derren Brown then what is readily available on online sources. His books, magic feats, and everything else there is to know about him

Derren Brown – Biography

Derren was born to Chris and Bob Brown in Croydon, London. Though he studied law and German at the University of Bristol, he would later move on to become a great performer.

His journey into the world of magic started when he attended a hypnotist show by Martin S. Taylor while he was pursuing his degree. This inspired him to switch to illusion and hypnosis as a career.

While in school, he took up work as a conjuror and made several performances of traditional skills of close-up magic in restaurants and bars.

In 1992, he took his career a step further and began performing stage shows at the University. At the time, he performed under the stage name Derren V. Brown.

Brown’s professional career began in 2000 with his first show, Mind Control which won him accolades and propelled him to stardom.

Derren Brown – Magic Shows

From 2000 – to date, Derren Brown has performed several magic tricks in television series, stage shows, and TV specials. Many of his popular performances have drawn a lot of criticism with the show, Séance being the third most complained about a show in history.

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Below are some of the popular performances by Derren Brown over the years

Television Series

  • Mind Control (2000 / 2003)
  • Tricks of the Mind – Series 1 – 3 (2004 – 2007)
  • Trick or Treat – Series 1 – 2 (2007- 2008)
  • The Events (2009)
  • Derren Brown Investigates (2010)
  • The Experiments (2011)

Television Specials

  • Russian Roulette (2003)
  • Séance (2004)
  • Messiah (2005)
  • The Gathering (2005)
  • The Heist (2006)
  • The System (2008)
  • 3D Magic Spectacular (2009)
  • Hero At 30000 Feet (2010)
  • Miracles For Sale (2011)
  • The Great Art Robbery (2013)
  • Pushed to the Edge (2016)

Stage Shows

  • Live (2003 – 2004)
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes (2005 – 2006)
  • Mind Reader – An Evening of Wonders (2007 – 2008)
  • Enigma (2009 – 2010
  • Svengali (2011 – 2012)
  • Infamous (2013 – 2014)
  • Miracle (2015 – 2016)

Derren Brown –Magic Skills and Methods

Just like other mentalists and magicians, Derren Brown uses several methods to achieve his tricks and illusions.

He had once stated that he is able to create illusions through the use of a variety of methods including traditional magic/conjuring techniques, hypnosis, psychology, cold reading, cognitive psychology, body language reading, memory techniques, and ideomotor suggestion.

Though many believe he uses methods like paid actors and pseudoscience neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), accusations he has since denied.

Brown is one of the few mentalists that do not claim to have any supernatural powers. In addition, he uses some of his performances to expose performers who claim to possess such powers.

However, most people are not able to deduce his techniques from his performances. This is due to the fact that he uses several techniques to mask his actual methods preventing his audience from knowing what he is doing.

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He simply tells the audience that he is going to reveal the methods he uses to achieve his tricks as a layer of misdirection.

This is just the same with Penn & Teller telling the audience just how magicians saw a woman in half but never reveal the secrets in the end. Instead, they seemingly sawed the woman’s body in half leaving her guts spilling out in front of a live audience.

While this style of showmanship is more intriguing and leaves the audience in shock, it has drawn criticism as it is misleading.

In Derren Brown’s case, he once appeared to predict lottery numbers and explain to the audience his method to the predictions. He also said his method included a skill called Wisdom of Crowds. In reality, the actual technique relied on split-screen video.

While not much is known about Derren Brown’s techniques, he still comes off as one of the best mentalists of the 21st century.

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Derren Brown – Books

Over the span of his career, Derren Brown has written several books – some for the general public and others for practitioners of mentalism and magic.

derren brown confessions of a conjuror

His book publications include Absolute Magic, Pure Effect (for magicians and mentalists), Confessions of a Conjuror, Tricks of the Mind, and Happy (for the general public).

In his books, magicians and mentalists will learn several techniques including the ones that Brown employs. The first two books Absolute Magic and Pure Effect came out before he found fame.

derren brown books tricks of the mind

He would later release Tricks of the Mind which details some of his techniques and discusses hypnosis. His book, Confessions of a Conjuror is more of an autobiography.

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Derren Brown – Performances and Magic Tricks

Derren Brown – Broken Glass Stunt

In a live show: Something Wicked This Way Comes, Derren Brown seemingly cuts off oxygen to his brain and walks barefoot on broken glass. But this intriguing performance didn’t stop there. He went ahead to lay on the pile of broken glass and had a volunteer stand on him.

Derren Brown – Lottery Prediction

In this act, Derren Brown predicted all six national lottery numbers correctly.  This feat is considered one of his greatest achievements because it is one of the few acts that could make him instantly rich.

Derren Brown – Undertaker Trick (aka Derren Brown Out of This World Trick)

If you’ve heard of the classic Out of this World trick, then the Undertaker trick shouldn’t come as a surprise. Here, Brown gives an undertaker some pictures to deal into two piles – one pile with pictures he favors and the other with those he doesn’t.

When the pictures are turned around, it turns out he favors the pictures of those that are alive and dislikes the ones of those of dead people. 

Derren Brown – Smoke

In this trick, Brown wows English comedian Stephen Fry by revealing a thought-of card which then appears as his cigarette.

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