Remembering the First Scary Clown
Father of Modern Clowns
May 31st marks the anniversary of the death of a famous Regency era character, the man who set the modern standard for clown performers.
The First Joey
Born in London in 1778, Joseph Grimaldi began his stage career early, at the age of two, appearing with his father, an actor. Injuries from his rough-and-tumble stage performances ended his career long before his death in 1837, but his legacy lives on in the white face makeup and colorful attire worn by generations of clowns.
During his career, Grimaldi was a huge star of the Harlequinade. a topic I’ve mentioned in past posts about Christmas in the Regency. He appeared in many, many successful stage productions.
Grimaldi’s memoirs were edited, revised and published after his death by no less than Charles Dickens. If you’re interested, you can download a digital copy for free from Google Books.
I’ve never read a Regency romance where Grimaldi was mentioned, or where one of the characters attended a Harlequinade–have you? If so, please tell me in the comments below.
A big thank you to The Gentle Author who covered this topic in the Spitalfields Life blog last week. If you’re interested in the history of London, I highly recommend the daily photo-essays in Spitalfields Life.
However, if you suffer from Coulrophobia (fear of clowns) you might want to skip the link about Grimaldi! Lots of scary pictures there!
Images: Wikimedia Commons