Stuntwomen, celebrities and survivors of the nineteenth-century Paris circus

A seal on horseback that got linked to an infamous scandal, a carefree beauty who hated skirts, and racy goings-on in Vienna: my first Amazons of Paris newsletter carries on where the Paris Review Daily series left off.

Amazons of Paris – the stuntwomen and daredevils of the nineteenth century

Viral photographs of an enigmatic Belle Epoque horsewoman called Sélika Lazevski set me hunting through archives and circuses from St Petersburg to Paris to uncover the lives of elusive professional equestriennes who were celebrated artistes, survivors, and scapegoats of the nineteenth century. I’m telling their stories now in Amazons of Paris, which began as an …

Émilie Loisset: Princess Daredevil and her Creepy Stans

To quote myself: The more I work on these mini biographies, the harder I find it to be certain of biographical facts. I usually check multiple contemporary sources about the same events and I see errors that are carried forward by later texts and plenty of instances where there are two believable versions of an …

Céleste Mogador: Lioness of the Hippodrome

Paris Review Daily have just published the fifth in my Écuyères series about the circus and hippodrome horsewomen of nineteenth-century Paris. It’s about Céleste Mogador, who was so many things it was hard to cram it all into the essay, not least because she left so much of her own life writing behind. Please go …

Disappearing Przewalskis, a 1943 train journey from the Eastern Front to Berlin, and a “Fascist leader” called Baumgarten: my unfinished wild-horse chase

One day when I hadn’t yet started working on The Age of the Horse, I was at a National Trust property in England, vaguely on the trail of a woman who fascinated me and whose story I had researched but was unsure how to tell. I was trying to find a work-around for the limitations …

A Short History of Certain Western Men Attempting To Explain Why Women Love Horses

I wrote my first book, If Wishes Were Horses, about the history of the girl–pony bond, an experience that led to my dentist telling me that women had orgasms when riding and a guy standing up after a talk I’d given and mansplaining that it was all about sex anyway.

The Baudelairean Horsewoman: Jenny de Rahden

  The new Écuyères essay is up at the Paris Review Daily’s blog: it’s about Baroness Jenny de Rahden. This is part of a series on circus horsewomen of nineteenth-century Paris. The earlier essays are on Selika Lazevski (research blog here), Sarah l’Africaine (research blog here) and my obsession with these circus horsewomen (research blog here). …

Amazons, Lionesses and Women of the World – a newsletter on women and horses in the long nineteenth century?

Would you be interested in a newsletter about women and horses in the long nineteenth century? I’m thinking a mixture of mini biographies like those for the circus horsewomen, plus social history and horse history. Comment and tell me what you think or what you’d like me to cover!

Is Strangles the Equine Coronavirus?

As part of Strangles Awareness Week 2020, Redwings talked to bacteriologist Dr Andrew Waller of the Animal Health Trust. I’ve added the results of the Q&A as a PDF here: COVID-19 vs Strangles. The Q&A is an excellent rundown of strangles symptoms and the issues over recovery. If you want to know how horses can …

Inventing the Wild Horse: the Manmade History of the Takhi and Tarpan from 3500BCE–1828

I’ve just published a chapter called “Inventing the Wild Horse: the Manmade History of the Takhi and Tarpan from 1828–2018” in Horse Breeds and Human Society: Purity, Identity and the Making of the Modern Horse, edited by Kristen Guest and Monica Mattfeld (Routledge, 2020). I went overboard writing this and outstripped my word count so …