- Philip Astley & The Horsemen who invented the Circus, by Dominique Jando (2018)
Papaerback/Kindle — 250 pages with illustrations — Preface by Paul Binder
In this fascinating and carefully researched book, Dominique Jando tells us when, why and how the former sergeant-major of a British Hussars regiment created the most universal form of entertainment, the Circus. It was not a chance occurrence: the place, the times and the social context, all led to this pivotal moment.
Philip Astley became England's greatest showman, but if he was indeed a visionary, he was not a lone experimentalist: immediately, other equestrians followed his example and participated in the development and expansion of the circus in Europe and the Americas. This is the story, too, of these extraordinary and colorful pioneers who were Astley's contemporaries, whether pupils, competitors or colleagues: Charles Hughes, John Bill Ricketts, Philip Lailson, Antonio Franconi and a few others-including Astley's own son, John Conway Astley.
Relying in large part on their contemporaries' testimony, internationally renown circus historian Dominique Jando places these pioneers back in their historical and social context, as well as in the often-overlooked context of the nascent show business of the late eighteenth century—principally in Great Britain, but also in Europe and in America.
"A significant contribution to our understanding of early circus history." (David Carlyon, author of Dan Rice, The Most famous Man You've Never Heard Of)
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