Book Review: Magic Doors – by John Pearson


Magic doors is a photography book that was quite popular in the 1970ies. Artists and photographers liked this book and it was found on many a coffee table. When I pick it up now, it’s like time-travel back to my youth.

The cover photograph is the most striking of all.

To buy the book, click here.

In May of 2006 I wrote an email to John Pearson, the author:

To John Pearson:

I was twenty-one when I first picked up “Magic Doors” in 1977. It was a coffee table book for us then, lifetimes ago, when I was full of wonder. It seemed I walked through magic doors every day. I remember being touched by your statement of 13,000 days left in the epilogue.

Older now, approaching my fiftieth birthday, kids leaving for college, I sit the dining area in my small house in Southern California. As I look for something on the bookshelf behind me, I startle as I pull out “Magic Doors.” The green photo on the cover instantly transports me back about 10,950 days into the past, when the world was full of wonder and I am there, lingering, a few of tears rolling on my face, while I thumb through the tattered paperback, grateful to be time traveling through a magic door.

We have Google now, and I can find you on your web site. For the first time in all those years I get the chance to actually thank you. I flip over the book and I see on the cover that I paid $6.95 for the book, worth two gallons of gas, but I know that I have a treasure that will last another 10,950 days, at least.

One day you won’t be here, then another day I won’t be here, but the magic doors will still swing wide open for those with the heart to feel them. Since, as you said so aptly: “Of magic doors there is this: you do not see them even as you are passing through.”

— Norbert Haupt

To my surprise, John responded with a heartfelt email within a day. I would have liked to add his email here, but I wanted his permission first. I emailed him in early December, but he has not responded yet. His website was last updated on June 19, 2006, not long after my email exchange with him. I will not bother him any more, but I hope he is alright, taking pictures, living life in happiness and fulfilment. If he responds eventually, and provides permission, I will post his response here.

Rating - Four Stars

12 thoughts on “Book Review: Magic Doors – by John Pearson

  1. norberthaupt

    I just checked John Pearson’s website again. It still lists June 19, 2006 as the last date updated. I have not heard from John since that last email exchange, but my blog attracts a viewer every few weeks, mostly looking for “of magic doors there is this” and my heart aches every time I read it.

  2. Sophie

    Thank you for posting this source. I was remembering this quote and the book cover which I had framed in my offices for many years. My parents are in hospice and their oriental medicine practitioner was taking me through some Chi Gong meditations over the phone to assist them and me. John Pearson’s quote came to mind. I want to find that framed photo again. It certainly led me into a very satisfying and unexpected career of service in public health. I like to think that the people passing through my office found John Pearson’s quote to be as inspiring as I did.

  3. As of today, people find this blog entry often. At least once a week somebody searches for “Of Magic Doors there is This….” and comes here. I have not heard from John again since summer 2006.

  4. I’ve used that quote as a caption for many photographs since the late 1970s and still find it inspirational! I believe Mr. Pearson is doing well and is very active. His website is johnpearsonphotography dot com. Best wishes to you!

  5. Phyllis

    Very interesting I have been researching John Peterson as I have a small framed photo print? of the cover of this book with the calligraphy you quoted. The little framed photo has a bit of info re the photographer , and a date 1979. thank you for sharing your story

  6. Mr. Haupt,

    Thank you for this post.

    Not long after your purchase in 1977, I made one of my own from my college bookstore: a small, inexpensively framed print of the cover image with the quote beneath.

    I remember that day well as I was a freshman just starting my first semester, and the world seemed full of wondrous and limitless possibilities. The late summer day was perfectly fall-like; and since I had spent my childhood exploring the woods about my hometown, the image and verse beckoned to me like the call of a siren.

    Though much that we held in our youth are mere memories a lifetime later, this small thing that remained near my desk since I was seventeen has stayed with me. Your letter to Mr. Pearson is as poetic and eloquent a thank you as any of us could hope to write from the heart.

    And it speaks for all of us who, on those perfect spring days, squint our eyes and see the world yet full of wonder as we had seen it in our youth.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. My original post to John Pearson is now almost 15 years in the past, but it still attracts visitors occasionally, always thinking about the magic of the life and the days we have. From reviewing your website and enterprise, it appears that John Pearson and probably many others have inspired your work and career. Good luck!

  7. Dear Norbert,
    I apologize for not replying to your email. Unfortunately, I don’t remember reading it.
    You certainly have my permission to publish my reply to your email of many years ago.
    I’m glad the driftwood is still floating!


    1. Hi John!

      That is absolutely amazing to be receiving your message now; it must be more than 15 years ago that we have corresponded. I had to check the date here to make sure it’s not a glitch in the matrix or something.

      The message itself, at the time, was wonderful, but the fact that you got back to me that many years later on it is a reason for a separate post altogether.

      Yes, the driftwood is still floating, Magic Doors is on a shelf 6 feet behind me, stood up so the cover faces outward. It still gives me the old memories and feelings of now literally 45 years ago when I first picked it up.

      I hope you’re well and thanks so much for the reply!

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