About the Website
This database features images and transcriptions of newspaper clippings detailing the acts presented at the first circus, Astley's Amphitheatre, from 1768 to 1833, as well as manuscript materials written by the collector, James Winston. The data is drawn from a little-known archive now housed at the British Library, “Astley’s Cuttings from Newspapers” (Th. Cts. 35-37). The “Reconstructing Early Circus” database presents the data in a searchable form. Users can perform searches on individual terms, allowing them to trace the development of particular features of the entertainments over time as well as Astley’s strategies for marketing them. While it is important to bear in mind that the newspaper advertisements do not necessarily reflect the actual performances that occurred at Astley’s (there were frequent changes to the program as it was advertised), they do give us a sense of what was considered appealing to audiences at the time.