Philip Astley; the Man Behind the Myth - CircusTalk

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Philip Astley; the Man Behind the Myth

So, here we are in 2019 and the circus celebrations of last year are behind us – or are they? There were countless performances, exhibition, talks and lectures, participatory workshops, and publications. What Circus250 achieved, particularly in the UK and Ireland, was to create a resurgence of interest in the circus. An interest that I am sure will carry through into the next 250 years! And all this was because of the man named Philip Astley.
Philip Astley; silhouette from the frontispiece of his book The System of Equestrian Education, 1802. (by permission of the National Fairground Archive) During the last year, much has been written and spoken about Philip Astley, the man who is credited with being its founding father. A sort of common mythology has grown around Astley and his life, particularly his early years, and much of this has become accepted as historical fact. Some of these myths have never been challenged but, as new research is undertaken, a new picture is being painted. Now, I know that for so...
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Steve Ward

Steve Ward has a background in theatre and clowning.  He has created and directed many youth circus festivals in the UK, as well as in Germany and Brazil. He has a PhD in the social and cultural history of the circus, and is a member of the Circus Research Network and the Circus Arts Research Platform. To date, he has written five books and many articles on the subject and is currently working on his next book looking at ethnic diversity and representation in the Victorian circus. Steve also lectures on aspects of circus history and has appeared on television and in many radio interviews. He also advises on educational and youth circus matters – and he still finds time to occasionally perform as a clown! Further information on Steve at