BATTLE FOR THE BIG TOP: Les Standiford in conversation with Kathy Maher

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June 17, 2021 • 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

A New York Times bestselling author writes the untold story of three Golden Age titans and the confrontations, cutthroat business strategies, and eccentric personalities that built the Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Millions have sat under the “big top,” watching as trapeze artists glide and clowns entertain, but few know the captivating stories behind the men who shaped the circus. Battle for the Big Top is the untold story of the battles of the three circus kings–James Bailey, P.T. Barnum, and John Ringling – all vying for control of the vastly profitable and widely influential American Circus. Ultimately, the rivalry of these three men resulted in the creation of an institution that would surpass all intentions and, for 147 years, hold a nation spellbound. Filled with details of their ever-evolving showmanship, business strategies, and personal magnetism, this Ragtime-like narrative will delight and enchant circus-lovers everywhere.

Joining Les Standiford (author of The Man Who Invented Christmas) for what is sure to be a high-flying conversation will be Barnum Museum Executive Director Kathy Maher.

This virtual program is free to attend, though when you register, we hope you’ll consider contributing what you’d call a fair ticket price. We thank you for your attendance whether you’re able to donate or not. REGISTER HERE.

Signed copies of Battle for the Big Top are available for purchase through the Mark Twain Store. Proceeds benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum. Books will be shipped after the event. We regret that we cannot ship outside of the U.S. at this time.

This program is presented in partnership with The Barnum Museum.


Programs at The Mark Twain House & Museum are made possible in part by support from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, and the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign and its Travelers Arts Impact Grant program, with major support from The Travelers Foundation. 


June 17, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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