This blog post is about the research behind an essay I published on Paris Review Daily on 9 February 2018 (accessible here). I first blogged about Selika when her image went viral in 2012. The best source of information was a commenter called Marie (her profile has since been deleted), who pointed out the source […]
A COUNTESS IN THE RING She Is to Make Her Debut in a Paris Circus A Countess of ancient lineage, and who for many years has been one of the ornaments of the Austrian court, is about to make her debut as a circus-rider of “Haute Ecole” at the “Nouveau Cirque” at Paris. She is […]
The more I’ve learned about research over the last decade, the more I’ve realised how easy it is to slip up. I’ve seen how one writer’s creative suggestion becomes “fact” in the next book down the line, and I’ve made that mistake myself. I’ve also endeavoured, when possible, to have the issues corrected in reprints. […]
American Woman Riding Side-Saddle on the Road at Hommoku, Motomura, Yokohama, by Utagawa Hiroshige II (Japanese, 1829–1869). This woodblock print dates from 1861. It belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, who have generously made many of their public domain images free for anyone to use.
Very often we look back on women the Victorian era and see only the equivalent of some modern-day heroine of Cosmo magazine who wears a size zero and eats only mung beans. That’s why I loved finding this caricature from Punch in 1872 mocking “the young lady with a model figure, light as a feather”.
Scores or maybe even hundreds of women in nineteenth century Europe performed as haute-école riders in circuses and hippodromes* before audiences from all classes. A handful of them became famous, as the expansion of the newspaper market meant that they were the first women to be widely celebrated for their equestrian skills (other than the […]
Therese Renz of the famous Renz circus dynasty, c. 1895. I’ve seen wonderful pictures of her in action (have you see the one where she and her horse are jumping rope?) but didn’t realise that she was a Berliner, and is buried just up the road from me in St Hedwig’s cemetery in Weissensee. She […]
To greet the horsemen and women of Olympia 2016, here’s some hot Olympia action from 1922. Let’s hope they have a few more bums on seats in W14 this week! It’ll be superstar dressage horse Valegro’s last competition before he returns to Carl Hester’s yard for a gentler life altogether.
If you’ve come here after reading the Washington Post piece on the revival of sidesaddle in America (now going a little viral on Jezebel.com), here’s a selection from the archives – a little bit of everything from balloonists to tragic heroines, scandalous females and zebras ridden sidesaddle. I also wrote in detail about women and […]