Talk: Son of Newcastle-under-Lyme, father of the modern day circus

Philip Astley was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1742… or was he?

Since 2015, staff and volunteers at the Brampton Museum have been researching Philip Astley’s early life and his family’s link to North Staffordshire. The dedicated research team have followed in Astley’s footsteps, travelling to London and Paris to uncover the man behind the myth.

  • How can you know someone’s birthplace when there is no record of their birth?
  • What is ‘the truth’ when different historical accounts contradict one another?
  • How much can you believe of someone’s account of their own life?

In conversation with Andrew Van Buren, Teresa Mason (Manager at the Brampton Museum) will address these questions and share the latest research on Philip Astley’s connection to Newcastle-under-Lyme. Van Buren, an expert on Philip Astley and internationally acclaimed illusionist and showman, will place this research into the broader context of circus and performing arts history.

This lively talk, hosted by the Friends of Keele, will give audience members the opportunity to find out more about Philip Astley in advance of the Brampton Museum’s upcoming exhibition, “Philip Astley – His Life and Legacy”. The exhibition will open in May 2018 and will include objects on loan from the V&A Museum and on view for the first time in Staffordshire.

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