Poster for the South London Palace 1131
Printer: Carter, A
Medium: Print on paper
The Victorians were a sensation-seeking people, and sought throughout the era ever more unusual and striking entertainments. Perhaps the most obvious, if not necessarily the most popular, example of this was the prolonged trend for 'freak shows' or 'theatres of the grotesque'. These usually comprised part of the programme of a travelling circus or exhibition, and displayed to the public people with obvious and startling physical abnormalities. The moral justification of such exhibitions was often vaguely humanitarian or scientific. It is interesting to note, though, that the performers in such shows - like 'Harvey's Midges' in this advertisement - were very often more highly paid than other circus performers, and that their unique or unusual physiques and abilities gave them great job security.