LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS... welcome to the big top blog of Douglas McPherson, author of CIRCUS MANIA, the book described by Gerry Cottle as "A passionate and up-to-date look at the circus and its people."

Sunday, 30 March 2014

15 Circus Facts for World Circus Day, April 18, 2015

Roll up, roll up!
Who could have resisted this poster
for Rosaire's Big Circus in 1946?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, with World Circus Day, April 18, almost upon us, Roll up, Roll up for the Circus Mania bluffer's guide to circus history and culture with these 15 fabulous facts about the sawdust circle.

1 - The word Circus dates from Roman times when arenas such as the Circus Maximus staged chariot races, gladiatorial contests and mock battles.

2 - The modern circus was founded in London by trick horse-rider Philip Astley, who opened his Amphitheatre of Equestrian Arts in London, in 1768.

A classic circus poster for
Manchester's Belle Vue winter circus
from 1960
3 - Astley’s rival Charles Hughes was the first to use the word circus in the modern sense when he founded the Royal Circus.

4 - A standard circus ring is 42-feet in diameter.

5 - Clowns are nicknamed Joeys after 19th century pantomime star Joseph Grimaldi.

6 - Leotards are named after the first star of the flying trapeze, Jules Leotard.

7 - The word jumbo, meaning large, entered the English language because of Jumbo, an 11-foot-tall elephant that the American showman PT Barnum bought from London Zoo.

Perhaps the most famous name
in British circus was Billy Smart,
nicknamed the Guv'nor.
8 - The traditional circus theme music is called Entrance of the Gladiators.

Charlie Cairoli was the first clown to appear on This Is Your Life.

10 - Chinese acrobats first appeared in European circuses in 1866.

11 - Cirque du Soleil was created as part of 1984’s celebrations to mark the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier’s discovery of Canada.

12 - Circus Space, in London, is the UK’s only training facility to offer a BA (hons) degree in circus arts.

13 - The first American circus was founded by John Bill Ricketts in Philadelphia.

14 - A ‘Josser’ is an outsider who joins the circus.

15 - According to circus superstition, it’s bad luck to wear green in the ring.

For more on the history of circus, and the lives of today’s performers, read Circus Mania - The Ultimate Book For Anyone Who Dreamed of Running Away With the Circus by Douglas McPherson.

“Circus Mania is a brilliant account of a vanishing art form.”
- Mail on Sunday.

“The Greatest Show on Earth... in a Book!”
- World’s Fair.

Click here to buy the paperback or ebook from Amazon.

And may all your days be circus days!

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