There Will Be Fun, Graphically Speaking

It would seem that the lyrics of the Lennon and McCartnery song Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, from the Beatle's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album of 1967, was to a great extent inspired by Lennon's purchase of the nineteenth-century circus poster shown at right. It's a poster that was made available as a letterpress print by the aptly-named Kite, which went on to issue additional posters such as the no less notable Stupendous Collection of Turnip Seeds, which has unaccountably yet to inspire a major composer.

The Kite poster is but an example within the rich graphic history of Victorian-era performers that plied their craft in everything from fairground tents to music hall stages. Accordingly, the London-based British Library, which is apparently the largest library in the world, has mounted the Victorian Entertainments: There Will Be Fun exhibition, free for view until February 12, 2017. The exhibit is packed with such ephemera as posters, handbills, advertisements and tickets, as well as contemporary film and sound recordings, with each Saturday a company of performers acting out archive material from the exhibition. We are amused!

There Will Be Fun Notice (c) British Library Board

Buatier de Kolta, lady appears poster

Royal Surey Zoological Gardens … Concert and pyrotechnic display … ascent of a balloon poster (c) British Library Board

Modern Witchery Maskelyne at the Egyptian Hall (c) British Library Board

Little Sandy (Hengler's Cirques) poster (c) British Library Board

Everything quite new to London poster (c) British Library Board

The Great Alvantee, Sanger's Amphitheatre (c) British Library Board