Politics, Press and the Performing Animals Controversy in Early Twentieth-Century Britain

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Abstract:

During 1921 and 1922, before the passage of the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act in 1925, a British parliamentary Select Committee undertook a detailed investigation into the degree to which animal performances in the circus and on the music-hall stage depended on cruelty. The investigation took place against a background of intense public interest that had been stimulated by the emergence of a new pressure group, the Performing Animals' Defence League. This paper examines the nature of political and press interests in the surrounding controversy and the detail of political involvement in a prolonged public dispute that suddenly arose after the war and was kept on the boil by fulminations in the national and trade press and on the floor of Parliament. As sides were taken, the motives, characteristics, and contributions of politicians and press are discussed, together with the debates contributing to the legislation and its aftermath.

Keywords: BRITISH HISTORY; PERFORMING ANIMALS; POLITICS; PRESS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175303708X371555

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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