Monday 20 December 2010

Steady on!

So, what is this image, and what's it doing in this respectable blog - any ideas?

Now, maybe I just have a dirty mind, but doesn't it look quite - ahem - suggestive?

Read the text and you find 'Harry climbed upon Percy's shoulders and extended himself down his back; then stretching out his own legs and arms ...' and a good more detail beside.

Happily (or sadly, depending on your interests) this was not some homoerotic attempt at expanding the Kama Sutra, but rather the Strand magazine (1897) employing the 'Three Delevines', music-hall acrobats, in an attempt to display the entire alphabet in human form, an article called 'The Human Alphabet'. Here's the finished product:

It is interesting that my immediate reaction to this was to think about sex, and I wonder if the Victorian readership were equally suggestible in that regard. Probably not. Whilst you'll find many Victorians complaining about the very existence of female acrobats (wearing tights, no less!), I don't think I've ever heard any connection made between male acrobats and sexuality. If anyone can cite an example, I'd be interested to hear it.

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