Works by Astley:

Astley, Philip. 1771. Horsemanship. This and Every Day, at Six O'clock in the Evening (Sundays Excepted) Mr. Astley, the Original English Warrier from Gen. Eliott's Light Horse, and Mrs. Astley, Will Exhibit the Most Wonderful and Surprizing Performance, ... on One, Two, and Three Horses. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. London: n.p.

Astley, Philip. 1794. A Description and Historical Account, of the Places Now the Theatre of War in the Low Countries, ... Embellished with a Frontispiece, and Plans of Those Places the Most Remarkable for Their Fortifications. By Philip Astley. London: Printed for the author, by H. Pace, No.56, Borough High-Street.

Natural magic: or, physical amusements revealed, by Philip Astley, Riding-Master, Westminster-Bridge, London; Great Part of which are intended to be added to the several Entertainments of the above Place, for the Year 1785, only.

Astley, Philip. 1794. Remarks on the Profession and Duty of a Soldier; with Other Observations Relative to the Army, at This Time in Actual Service on the Continent. By Philip Astley, Esq. of Hercules-Hall, Lambeth; London. Author of ``a Description of the Towns and Cities, at Present the Theatre of War in the Low Countries,'' &c. London: printed for the author.

Works about the Astley's and Astley's Amphitheatre: 

"Astley," The Manager's Note-book, The New Monthly and Humorist (1837).

Baker, H Barton. 1879. “Philip Astley.” Belgravia 38 (152): 471–77.

Baston, K. (2013). Transatlantic Journeys: John Bill Ricketts and the Edinburgh Equestrian Circus. Popular Entertainment Studies, 4(2), 5–28.

Kwint, Marius. (1995) "Astley's Amphitheatre and the early circus in England, 1768-1830" (D. Phil. University of Oxford)

Toulmin, Vanessa  (2018) ‘My wife to conclude performs the rest’ – Patty Astley the first lady of circus, Early Popular Visual Culture, 16:3, 290-300,DOI: 10.1080/17460654.2019.1569866

The Philip Astley Project

University of Sheffield's National Fairground and Circus Archive

V&A Story of Circus

Chris Barltrop (creator of the one-person play "Audacious Mr. Astley), Circus Culture website


As a multi-mediated entertainment involving horse riding and other animal acts, acrobatics, and fireworks as well as musical theatre, early circus has fallen between disciplines and even between fields within disciplines. Within Performance Studies, while there is scholarly excitement about contemporary circus (including the establishment of the sub-discipline of Circus Studies), the history of circus has been given short shrift. Within the field of English literary studies, Jane Moody’s illuminating Illegitimate Theatre in London, 1770-1840 (Cambridge UP, 2007) was instrumental in situating circus within the context of both the patent theatres and other popular entertainments in London, while scholars such as Daniel O’Quinn (Staging Governance: Theatrical Imperialism in London, 1770-1800 [Johns Hopkins UP, 2005], Gillian Russell (The Theatres of War: Performance, Politics, and Society, 1793-1815 [Clarendon Press, 1995]) and David Worrall (Harlequin Empire: Race, Ethnicity and the Drama of the Popular Enlightenment [Pickering and Chatto, 2007] and The Politics of Romantic Theatricality, 1787-1832 [Palgrave MacMillan, 2007]) have also included circus venues in their studies of late eighteenth-century performance. But despite their important work, it is still the case that circus exists on the margins of English Literature as a sub-branch of Theatre Studies. Julia Swindells and David Francis Taylor’s monumental Oxford Handbook of the Georgian Theatre 1737-1832 (Oxford University Press, 2014), for example, does not even contain the word “circus” in the index, and includes only a few references to Astley’s and the Royal Circus (referring to the latter as the Surrey Theatre).

Created 2018-06-22 3:59:30 PM by Michael Joyce.