‘Learned pigs’ and other apparently gifted animals (including horses and even geese) were displayed in Britain from the 17th century onwards. Perhaps the most famous of these though was Toby the ‘Sapient Pig’, who gained fame early in the 19th century for his apparent ability to carry out a range of intelligent tasks. These included playing cards, reading, telling the time from a pocket watch, guessing a person’s age and – somewhat enigmatically – being able to ‘discover a person’s thoughts’. Toby toured Britain extensively with his owner Nicholas Hoare who (perhaps unsurprisingly) turned out to be a skilful illusionist. Nevertheless, Toby caused something of a sensation throughout the country, visiting fairs, shows and pleasure gardens, and in 1817 even published his own ‘autobiography’ in which he recounted the history of his ‘uncommon talents’.
- Full title:
- from Collectanea: or, A collection of advertisements and paragraphs from the newspapers, relating to various subjects. Publick exhibitions and places of amusement
- estimated 1823
- Poster / Ephemera / Print / Image
- Usage terms
- Public Domain
- Held by
- British Library
- C.103.k.11. vol 21
- Article by:
- Matthew White
- Theatre and entertainment, Georgian society
Matthew White examines the variety of entertainment and leisure activities enjoyed in Georgian Britain.
- Article by:
- Paul Schlicke
- Popular culture
Industrialisation had a dramatic effect upon all aspects of Victorian life. Paul Schlicke examines how it led to the growth of commercial entertainment and the presence of these new cultural forms in the novels of Charles Dickens.