Gentleman Wizard

Greydon Knifeheart by Bryce Cook

"Can a magician kill a man by magic?" Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. "I suppose a magician might," he admitted, "but a gentleman never could."

A staple in Gaslamp Fantasy and Fantasy Counterpart Cultures with a Victorian-esque society, is the Gentleman Wizard. He is, essentially, an aristocratic blue blood who also happens to be some sort of magician, alchemist, wizard or what have you.

If his magic is something which is passed down through blood, then it's possible he's part of a Magocracy, but he's definitely part of a Magical Society, probably with some interesting name that alludes to hermeticism or Greek Mythology.

If his magic is learned however, then he tends to be close to a magical version of a Gentleman and a Scholar. Either way, his status as a rich blue blood allows for him to get quite good at this magic stuff, since he probably has nothing better to do. Usually the skill to use magic is seen as an appropriate sort of job for a gentleman to have, similar to being a Lawyer or banker. He'll also be a Sharp-Dressed Man, in dapper Victorian or Edwardian attire, possibly embellished to show off the fact that he's magical, and if he has a walking-stick it will no doubt be his wizard's staff or act as a magic focus at least once.

But even as a gentleman, such characters are usually considered to be quite strange and eccentric, even tricky and untrustworthy, no matter how polite their manner may appear to be. And as blue bloods, they might be quite proud and stuffy, looking down on the commoners and the muggles. If magic isn't particularly common then it's not unheard of for him to be The Hermit who lives in a Big Fancy House on a hill which he rarely comes out of, acting as something of an Urban Legend to the populace.

This was the original persona of stage magicians when they first appeared in that era. They have since relaxed as the rest of society has, and now a magician in a suit is seen as old hat.

If he is British, he is most likely a Quintessential British Gentleman; if American, he might be a Southern Gentleman. Compare Gentleman and a Scholar for the science equivalent (the two might dislike each other deeply, but you'd never be able to tell).

Contrast the Blue-Collar Warlock.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

     Advertising  

  • The guy wearing the bowler hat with the huge umbrella from the Travellers Insurance commercials a few years ago. Dignified, prim and proper, helping people out using his magic as he comes across them.

     Comic Books  

     Literature  

  • Lord William Beauclerk in the book Bitter Seeds is this trope to a T — at least at first.
  • The Chrestomanci are indisputably this in Diana Wynne Jones's Chrestomanci series. Most wizards or magicians in her books follow this pattern.
  • Archchancellor Ridcully in Discworld is an interesting variant; a wizard who is also a country landowner of the huntin', shootin' and fishin' variety.
    • There's also Lady Lilith de Tempscire, aka Lily Weatherwax, who's a Lady Witch and the power behind the throne in Genua (the person on the throne is a frog). This is a sharp contrast to the other witches, who are generally country wise women who would rather not meddle in politics.
    • Discworld Wizards are generally regarded as a type of "nob" (important person, much like a noble).
  • Felix Harrowgate and other wizards in Doctrine of Labyrinths.
  • Dragaera has Dragonlord Morrolan e'Drien, the Duke of Southmoor and Lord of Castle Black, as well as eventual imperial Court Wizard. His study of Eastern witchcraft and Elder Sorcery as well as Dragaeran sorcery have earned him the title of Wizard and he's a Person of Mass Destruction in battle, but for the most part he is a Benevolent Mage Ruler with a firm belief in Sacred Hospitality who takes the responsibilities of his position seriously and will always help a friend in need.
  • Wizard Chandler aka "Steed" from The Dresden Files goes to some trouble to appear like one of these. Readers haven't seen enough of him to judge for certain.
    • The Merlin of the White Council is also one.
    • And come to think of it, Harry himself likes to think he has the old-fashioned good manners thing going - and his chivalry is occasionally referred to by more urbane character Lara Raith as 'charmingly outdated' - even if he's a Blue-Collar Warlock in practice.
  • Most of the magic-users in Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series are this. Or the Distaff Counterpart.
  • From Harry Potter:
    • Dumbledore probably counts, especially when he was younger (and had a very stylish looking purple suit when he was visiting Riddle at the orphanage).
    • Gilderoy Lockhart wants to be this trope.
    • Lucius Malfoy probably was as well, at least until his social standing took a dive after Voldemort's return. In fact, a lot of wizards from the old pureblood families (or at least the rich ones) would probably fit this trope.
  • Howl from Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle and its Hayao Miyazaki movie adaptation.
  • Both the eponymous characters in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
  • The Wizard in the Land of Oz series is like this, though in both film and books it's obviously an assumed persona for an old carnival ham.
  • Several minor characters (including a couple of victims) in the Lord Darcy series. Recurring character Lord John Quetzal is an interesting case, as he's a nobleman and a gentleman, but he's from the colonies (Mexico, in our version of reality), which gives him some unusual quirks.
  • Dean Henry Fogg of The Magicians makes a deliberate effort to come across this way. One character notes that his speech is so proper, it's almost as though he regretted not having a British accent.
  • Averted with Uncle Andrew from The Magician's Nephew, who thinks of himself as a gentleman, but rather than being polite and cultured, he thinks it excuses him from such petty restrictions as not tricking an innocent girl into being his unwitting experimental subject.
    "But of course you must understand that rules of that sort, however excellent they may be for little boys—and servants—and women—and even people in general, can't possibly be expected to apply to profound students and great thinkers and sages. No, Digory. Men like me, who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny."
    • He's not that much of a magician, either, of course; he gets no respect from Jadis, the evil true Witch and true Queen, when he meets her.
  • In the Gaslamp Fantasy Magicians Ward by Patricia C. Wrede, the protagonist is a young (female) magician who grew up on the mean streets, but has now been adopted by a Gentleman Wizard. At one point she is assured that "a wizard can always be presented [to Society]"—apparently in that version of Regency England, having magical talent automatically allows you entry to the upper class. (But does not excuse poor taste or manners.)
  • DCI Nightingale from the Rivers of London series, he even has the silver tipped walking stick. And was born in 19th Century too.
  • In Shades of Milk and Honey, young ladies are expected to be versed in the art of glamour magic, somewhat like young ladies in Jane Austen's works are expected to be able to play the piano. As with housekeeping and other things, women do it for free to decorate their father or husband's house, while professional male glamourists can be highly paid.
  • Several characters in Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.
  • Loric from the Temps superhero series.
  • Randolph Carter, in H.P. Lovecraft's stories, has several ancestors who were this. He himself is more of a folklorist-researcher.

     Live Action TV  

  • Giles could be said to borderline this on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He's a total British gentleman when you don't make him mad, uses magic although it isn't innate with him, and does use borrowed magic in season 6 to try and stop Willow.

     Tabletop Gaming  

  • Castle Falkenstein: Morrolon definitely counts; indeed, most male sorcerers in this setting do. Most female sorcerers manage to be the Lady Wizard instead.
  • Mage: The Awakening: Among the Awakened, Mastigos seems to fill this role pretty well. But only because they are deceivers and devil's advocates. Don't expect them to actually hold their part of gentlemen's agreement.

     Theater  

     Video Games  

  • Don Kovak and Vec in Master of the Wind. The former is a Villain with Good Publicity, and the latter is his even more formal and gentlemanly bodyguard. They are also both competent mages. Possibly subverted, since behind the scenes they're quite villainous.
  • Mage Hakwe in Dragon Age II, regains their family fortune and becomes a member of the Kirkwall nobility in the second act, though has to keep their abilities secret due to magic being illegal in Thedas. After becoming the Champion of Kirkwall, Mage Hawke is seemingly given carte blanche by the Templars and allowed to remain free, in exchange for continuing to unofficially work for the city.
  • Perriman Smythe and Geoffrey Tarrelond-Ashe in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura. Potentially also the player character. Perriman is more of the genteele and slightly sheltered variety, while Geoffrey views his Black Necromancy skills as something to be played with while he decides whether or not to be bothered to go to the nice job waiting for him in Tarant.

     Webcomics  

  • This fits Victor Branson from the webcomic Gralio Park to a tee. He is the heir to a duke and quite the young, if occasionally snarky, gentleman. The first thing we see him do is use an air spell to talk to someone. However, unlike many on this list he also likes machines.
  • Vincent Whateley, in Autumn Bay, is a gentleman wizard. He comes from old money, and is the first (human) character we see using magic.
  • Mr. Raven, from El Goonish Shive, fits this once we get to know him better. He's an older man who dresses well (if a bit old fashioned), teaches history at Moperville South High School, has a strong sense of honor and will not allow rogue wizards to attack his school and harm his students. Oh, and he's also an elf and 150 years old.