New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company. . First edition. With eight photo plates (frontisportrait of Robinson and seven plates showing her performing or in costume). Early book plate of Mabel A. Ferguson (b. 1878), wife of Arkansas lumber merchant and Ferguson Lumber owner Arthur L. Ferguson (1878 – 1933), to front flyleaf, pasted over what appears to be a contemporary ink signature. In the original, scarce dust jacket, illustrated in color with art deco image of a woman standing on horseback in a circus ring (some chipping to corners, very good). A bright, near-fine copy of this memoir of a famed Barnum & Bailey equestrian performer and suffragist. Publisher’s lavender cloth with gilt title. Octavo. xii, 304 pp. Item #16960
Josephine “Josie” DeMott Robinson (1868 - 1938) was born into a family of circus performers and spent her early life traveling with Barnum & Bailey Circuses. She performed for the first time at the age of three, and “by her teens she became a highlight act by perfecting her trademark stunt — multiple somersault flips on a moving bareback horse, purportedly the only woman in the world at the time to perform the feat,” (West Hempstead). She quickly gained international renown as a marquee act for Barnum & Bailey. After a failed attempt to join the Klondike Gold Rush, Robinson returned to the circus at the age of thirty-eight. She led the Barnum & Bailey’s Circus Women’s Equal Rights Society, which mobilized women circus performers both toward the suffragist cause and to fight for their own interests as the stars of their respective shows. When she eventually retired from the circus, she trained horses for the circus, opened a horseback riding school for girls, and converted her home into a retreat where women could relax, go horseback riding, take exercise classes, and more.
“The 1889-1890 Barnum Review described her as ‘the most distinguished and versatile of all principal bareback equestriennes,’” (Harman). Harman, Elizabeth. “The Life of Circus Lady Josephine Demott.” Illinois State News. Vecchio, Kat. “The Suffragettes of the Circus.” The Week (January 18, 2018). “West Hempstead’s Celebrity Circus Star.” West Hempstead Now and Then (webpage).