circus reading

More reading about circuses, fairs, music hall and street performances.

We've grouped apparently likely but ultimately less fruitful sources in this attachment.

Barnum, Phineas T. The Life of P. T. Barnum Written by Himself (NY: Redfield, 1855). 404 pp. American business history related to genius for promotion (Jenny Lind; General Tom Thumb; American museum displaying Niagara Falls with "real water" etc.); contains one Poodle (pp. 258-9), supposedly belonging to Queen Victoria and who barked at Tom Thumb; we've found no indication that Queen Victoria (who was very fond of dogs) owned a Poodle.

Croft-Cooke, Rupert and Peter Cotes. Circus: A World History (London: Elek, 1976). Fascinating (for example, mosaic from Lyons showing Roman equestrian skills) illustrations. Chapter titles: "Origins of the circus [ancient and medieval, and including fairs]. Astley's Amphitheatre [considered first modern circus; after 1760]. Barnum and Ballyhoo. The Parade Goes By. Acts and Accidents. Clowns. The Cult of the Circus." List of Poodle-related illustrations: Cartoon: "'Freaks, Percy! How dreadful! But it does seem a pity to miss them when they're here.' A magazine cartoon from 1898, relating to the arrival of Barnum and Bailey's show, " a man in a top hat and a lady read a circus poster, accompanied by a small Poodle in historically-correct Continental, p. 64. Item from Toulouse-Lautrec's series of pastels devoted to the circus, showing a pony, a plump clown, and a small Poodle, p. 77. Poodles act (Poodle pulling giant cracker with a dwarf clown; other Poodles sit on tables), p. 145. Poodle in costume pushes cart, p. 161. Lacks section on trained dogs; emphasis on exotic animals and horses.

Greenwood, Isaac J. The Circus: Its Origin and Growth prior to 1835 (NY: Burt Franklin, 1970; originally published 1898). 117 pp. Much about the American circus; interesting because of its 1898 perspective; equestrian emphasis; scanned in vain for Poodles.

National Fairgrounds Archive at the University of Sheffield.

Smith, Lady Eleanor with additional material supplied by John Hinde. British Circus Life. Illustrated with photographs by John Hinde. (London: Harrap, 1948). 207 pp. This is a very interesting book about one apparently typical travelling circus in England immediately after WWII, and including several circus families, tent ("big top"), ring, clowns, tightrope walking, exotic animals (lions; chimpanzee), horses, a dwarf, etc. Dog (mixed-breed) act is mentioned but not described. This circus spends a chunk of the winter in Belfast performing the Pantomime. A casual aside hightlights "dog and pony" acts as of potential interest for the Poodle researcher. Mention (p. 95) of "some months ago, a wretched individual working performing dogs in a music-hall was very properly summoned for odiously ill-treating them" (by contrast the circus animals are in top condition): reveals the music-hall as a performance venue. Smith is cited in (Poodle/Gypsy research) progress report.

Speaight, George. The History of the Circus (London: Tantivy, 1980). 216 pp. Chapter titles: "The Origins of Circus (Histriones and Minstrels; Feats of Activity; At the Fairs; The Riding Masters; The Circus is Born); The Early Years; The Circus in Britain in the Nineteenth Century; The Circus in America; The Golden Age of the Circus in Europe; The Circus in the Twentieth Century; Appendix: Circus Buildings in London, New York and Paris." Overview of the history of the circus; dogs mentioned; emphasis on horses and exotic animals.

Return to Bygone Performing Poodles