History of Australian Circus
Since 1969, Mark St Leon has been dedicated to the research and documentation of the history of the circus in Australia.
This year sees the release of his first volume of the history of circus in Australia. The new series compliments an earlier
series produced in the 1980s, reflecting the enormous advances of the past 20 years in our knowledge of circus history.
Circus in Australia, like much of world circus, traces its origins to Astley’s Amphitheatre, the 18th century London
establishment generally regarded as the ‘home’ of modern circus. Although ropewalkers and equestrians made appearances
in the Australian colonies as far back as the 1830s, Australia’s first successful circus enterprise was established in Tasmania
in 1847, a miniature Astley’s. Thereafter, circus in Australia developed a character of its own as the early circus people learned
to adapt their ‘old world’ professional standards to the demands and opportunities of the ‘new world’ of Australia.
Mark St Leon’s forbears established one of the first travelling circuses in Australia in the 1850s and remained active in circus
both in Australia and the USA until the 1960s.
In time, Australian circus produced some of the greatest stars of international circus, such as Con Colleano and May Wirth. In
fact, despite its English origins, Australian circus became truly international in character. Australia was visited by circuses and
troupes from America, Europe and Japan. Within the ranks of Australia’s circus one would find German musicians, Mexican
gymnasts, Japanese acrobats, American riders, Italian strongmen and Russian clowns.
The first volume in this “Wattle in the Sawdust” series embraces the formative period of Australian circus, its English origins,
the early amphitheatres, the first tented circuses and Australia’s early circus people. We meet not only the early circus
proprietors and performers, but the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ orders of colonial Australia, the pioneers, the golddiggers, the convicts
and the Aborigines.
Those interested in purchasing a limited edition copy of this first series should contact Mark St Leon directly via email
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (+612) 9579 6294
Expert on Australian Circus History thank you to NICA and Mark St Leon
GALA ENTERTAINMENT MANAGEMENT