Pablo Fanque and the Victorian Circus
by Gareth HH Davies
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ISBN Number: 9781909796324
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 128
Publication Date: 2017
Publisher:
Poppyland Publishing

Norwich-born Pablo Fanque, or William Darby, the first black circus proprietor, is the perfect illustration of our society in which ethnic diversity and cultural identity are much valued. His connection with the Beatles song, Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite, found on the Sergeant Pepper album, provides a very real nostalgic link for a generation which began to cast off previous assumptions about race, class, and notions of history.

Pablo Fanque and the Victorian Circus is a story of very humble beginnings and then of great artistry, constant travelling, business flair, success, tragedy, ruin and revival. Born in 1810, Pablo became a performer and then a proprietor in the circus world of the mid-19th century. The circus was the ultimate form of spectator entertainment. It professionalised, commercialised and industrialised types of performance that had existed for hundreds of years. Rope-walking, tumbling and acrobatics had a long tradition of drawing audiences at country and town fairs. However, horsemanship, above all, was the essence of the original circus and at this Pablo excelled. The fact that William Darby was African British had an important bearing on his life and tells us something about Victorian society, but so does the fact that he was born of such humble origins and became one of the best known and loved circus proprietors of the Victorian period.

Author Gareth H.H. Davies graduated from the University of Wales in 1979 and has spent his career teaching and supporting work in education. A Fellow of the Centre for History Education at Leeds Trinity University and text book author, he became an educational adviser for a UK local authority and then an educational software consultant. He is a speaker specialising in 19th and 20th century history.

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