The Acrobat

Arthur Barnes and the Victorian Circus


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About the Book

Arthur Barnes—“The 100 Somersault Man”—was the world’s greatest acrobat, a legend of the circus. He toured for 23 years with the biggest companies in Britain, Europe and the United States, performing for all the crowned heads, as well as for Abraham Lincoln. This book traces his story as a bright thread of triumphs and tragedies running through the tapestry of the mid–Victorian era, a tapestry made rich by extraordinary events of the day and by the eccentric characters attracted to such a profession as the circus. We follow Barnes as he escapes the doom of the iron foundry by bounding out of the desperate slums of the East End of London at the age of 14 to become the “champion vaulter of all the world.”

About the Author(s)

John Stewart is the author of non-fiction books on a variety of topics including African states and rulers, Antarctica, the British Empire, Moons of the solar system, Italian movies, Broadway musicals, the British circus, Lord Byron, Jefferson Davis, and Confederate spies. Winner of numerous reference book awards, he lives in West Jefferson, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

John Stewart
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 246
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7023-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9112-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1

Presenting      3
The Somersaulting Record      6
Powell’s Circus      14
Hughes’s Circus Royal      23
The Disappearance of Mr. Arthur Barnes      40
The Return of Mr. Arthur Barnes      51
Wallett      54
Cooke’s, 1849–1850      62
Cooke’s, 1851–1852      85
The Hernandez Years      116
America      142
The Hengler Years      150
Music Halls      175
Retirement      206

Bibliography      213
Index      217

Book Reviews & Awards

“examines the life of this record breaking performer and explores the world of the circus in an era of expanding leisure and entertainment opportunities”—Reference & Research Book News.