Sunday, October 3, 2010

Some Circus History

Australia has a long long circus history and the place to discover it is at Dr Mark St Leon's website . The website has an incredible variety of resources, including genealogical resources. It is an amazing history site.

I suppose Ashton is the most famous name in Australian circus history. However, another famous name is Wirth. The Wirths ran circuses around Australia for decades their most famous offspring, who wasnt really their offspring at all, was May.

May was an Australian born bareback rider who enthralled audiences with her astounding acrobatic tricks on horseback.She was applauded and idolised in America and worked as a starring act for Barnum and Bailey, but she was never really appreciated in Australia. More on May here

The Wirth family ran a circus until the 1960s and one day I accidentally discovered and subsequently purchased the following items.

Firstly, a Xmas card from Wirths dated 1953-1954

There is a lovely picture of an acrobatic rider in the top left hand corner.

With the card were these photographs, which give some indication of how a circus travelled in the 1960s.

I'm not sure a circus would be allowed to have so many elephants today.

Circus is a long held Australian tradition. Circus folk were often derided in the past, but hopefully we've outgrown that sort of prejudice . What is incredible is the sheer skill of circus performers. Some evidence of this is in this youtube video of Australian acrobats,The St Leons in the United States in 1959, posted by Mark St Leon.


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