FATHER OF THE MODERN CIRCUS
‘BILLY BUTTONS’
THE LIFE & TIMES OF PHILIP ASTLEY
by
Steve Ward 
 
Published by Pen & Sword Books April 2018
 
‘This book pulls together the wide range of information available on the great man (while even unearthing more) and ends up contributing a worthwhile tome to celebrate Circus250’  
Tim Roberts, École de Cirque de Québec
 
2018 marks the 250th anniversary of the founding of
the modern circus by the colourful character of
Philip Astley
 
Steve Ward reveals the stories behind the great man and
his contribution to the development of that very British institution that is the Circus
 
 In the anniversary year, read about Astley’s heroic deeds in the Seven Years War and how this influenced his presentations of trick riding
 Find out about how Astley created the comic character of ‘Billy Buttons’
 Discover how Astley built a circus empire that at one time stretched from Paris to Dublin
 Uncover the cut-throat rivalry between Astley and other circus proprietors
 Learn about disastrous fires and how Astley always rose again from the ashes 
 
About the author
A retired teacher, Steve Ward is a freelance writer with a particular interest in circus. He has an M.A. from the University of Loughborough, researching the role of circus in education. He also devises and directs circus shows with young people. His previous ‘circus’ books are Beneath the Big Top (Pen & Sword 2014) and Sawdust Sisterhood (Fonthill Media 2016).
 
                          Steve is available for talks, interviews and feature writing 


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FOR RELEASE 28th JULY 2016
(31st October in U.S.)


SAWDUST SISTERHOOD;
How Circus Empowered Women
Fonthill Media (www.fonthillmedia.com)

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW FROM;






Philip Astley first pegged out his circular ‘ride’ on the banks of the Thames in 1768 and so laid down the foundations of the modern circus. Performing feats of trick riding with his wife Patty Jones, little did he realise that before long women would become a dominant force in the circus. Sawdust Sisterhood explores how the circus empowered women and gave them the opportunity to compete and succeed as performers in their own right in an otherwise masculine world. Drawing upon historical news reports and contemporary interviews, the book explores the lives of female circus performers and focuses upon several of the more well-known artistes from across two centuries of circus, including; Madame Saqui, the renowned French wire-walker of the early nineteenth century; Nellie Chapman, the Victorian ‘Lion Queen’ of Wombwells’s Menagerie and Circus; and Katie Brumbach, otherwise known as Sandwina, perhaps the most famous Strongwoman of the twentieth century. Sawdust Sisterhood acknowledges the role of the female circus performer across the centuries.

'This book fulfils a great need in our sector, explaining and celebrating the immense contribution women have had in the circus arts. By illuminating major artists in a range of disciplines, it is obvious through this book that no aspect of our industry would be what it is today without the presence of these  extraordinary women. A must for every library and collector'

Tim Roberts, National Centre for Circus Arts  Feb 2016

'This book contains such wonderful descriptions of the circus of the time, so deliciously detailed as I read through each page. Thank you … for this amazing recounting of some of our circus history!'

Carrie Heller, Director, Circus Arts Institute   Nov 2015


'Steve Ward illustrates a landscape spanning a number of centuries where women trained, fought, performed and risked their lives for their art ... Sawdust Sisterhood is a seminal text in recognising the role that our circus sisters played in the fight for gender equality'

Kirstin Sillitoe, General Manager, Vulcana Women's Circus  Dec 2015


'It is a book that will appeal to enthusiasts I am sure ...'

Professor G. Bush-Bailey, Royal Central school of Speech and Drama  Jan 2016 



'Once again Steve Ward does the excellent scholarship of exhuming and examining the exhilarating and under-appreciated contribution women have made throughout
the ages of circus history. This book rights a historical wrong and will
FATHER OF THE MODERN CIRCUS
‘BILLY BUTTONS’
THE LIFE & TIMES OF PHILIP ASTLEY
by
Steve Ward 
 
Published by Pen & Sword Books April 2018
 
‘This book pulls together the wide range of information available on the great man (while even unearthing more) and ends up contributing a worthwhile tome to celebrate Circus250’  
Tim Roberts, École de Cirque de Québec
 
2018 marks the 250th anniversary of the founding of
the modern circus by the colourful character of
Philip Astley
 
Steve Ward reveals the stories behind the great man and
his contribution to the development of that very British institution that is the Circus
 
 In the anniversary year, read about Astley’s heroic deeds in the Seven Years War and how this influenced his presentations of trick riding
 Find out about how Astley created the comic character of ‘Billy Buttons’
 Discover how Astley built a circus empire that at one time stretched from Paris to Dublin
 Uncover the cut-throat rivalry between Astley and other circus proprietors
 Learn about disastrous fires and how Astley always rose again from the ashes 
 
About the author
A retired teacher, Steve Ward is a freelance writer with a particular interest in circus. He has an M.A. from the University of Loughborough, researching the role of circus in education. He also devises and directs circus shows with young people. His previous ‘circus’ books are Beneath the Big Top (Pen & Sword 2014) and Sawdust Sisterhood (Fonthill Media 2016).
 
                          Steve is available for talks, interviews and feature writing 
inspire the next generation of Amazons!'

Kevin O'Keefe, Director, Circus Minimus N.Y., USA, March 2016

*

Steve Ward was born in Gloucester in 1952 and was educated at the Crypt Grammar School. He trained in Drama and Dance and went on to gain a Masters Degree from the University of Loughborough, researching the role of circus in education. He is also a Winston Churchill Fellow having researched circus training in Budapest, Hungary. As well as 34 years of teaching he has been an actor, a singer, a radio presenter, a circus in education advocate and the director of an award winning youth circus. He now lives in Yorkshire and spends his time as a freelance writer and genealogist.

He has written articles and features for a wide range of Genealogical magazines in the UK and Australia and he has written widely on the role of circus in education.

He has also published two books and his most recent book 'A Social History of the Circus' was published in September 2014.

For a full list of publications please see the 'Publications' page.

Steve is available for talks, interviews, feature writing and genealogical research.


Contact:   Email - genward21@gmail.com     Mobile - 07805899132
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