£6 – £8

Don't Joke With Elephants. A talk by Helen Cowie

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Highgate Cemetery

Swain's Lane

London

N6 6PJ

United Kingdom

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LIFE AND DEATH IN THE TRAVELLING MENAGERIE

Travelling menageries were a popular form of entertainment in 19th-century Britain. They toured widely, making exotic animals accessible to a broad spectrum of the population. The most famous menagerist of the era, George Wombwell, is buried in Highgate Cemetery beneath a statue of his famous lion Nero.

Menageries were also highly dangerous places where both keepers and members of the public often came to grief. Helen Cowie explores their darker side and, drawing on local newspaper reports, which recounted — sometimes in graphic detail — the mishaps that occurred in travelling animal shows, she assesses the frequency and severity of accidents involving exotic animals and examines how contemporaries responded
to these tragic and dangerous occurrences.
Helen Cowie is senior lecturer in history at the University of York. She is author of Conquering Nature in Spain and its Empire, 1750–1850 (Manchester University Press, 2011), Exhibiting Animals in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Empathy, Education, Entertainment (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and Llama (Reaktion Books, 2017)

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Highgate Cemetery

Swain's Lane

London

N6 6PJ

United Kingdom

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