PAST IN PICTURES
The Greatest Shows on Earth
Exotic performer Dolores Vallecita brought the wild to the big top when she entered the ring with her six Indian leopards. One of the earliest female circus trainers to attempt such an act, Vallecita – seen here with one of her big cats in c1906 – was killed by her favourite leopard in 1925.
Coming to town
The arrival of the circus in town was cause for great excitement, as well as a fantastic way of advertising the acts that could be seen. Here, the US Ringlings Bros Circus brings traffic, and people, to a standstill as it parades down Market Street in San Francisco in 1900, complete with elephants.
A life on show
Conjoined twins Millie and Christina – pictured here in 1866 – were standard fare in Victorian circuses and hugely popular in England.
On the wire
French tightrope walker and acrobat Charles Blondin is seen here on one of his legendary death-defying walks across the Niagara Falls.
The female Hercules
Circus strongwoman Katie Sandwina is pictured here in 1911 holding three men, seemingly without effort.