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Sara Gruen was inspired to write Water for Elephants after seeing some pictures of travelling circuses from the 1930s. The following pictures were printed in the first edition of the book, and show what the circus was like at that time – a marvel of an ever-moving small town.  If you’re interested in seeing more, Taschen has a fascinating video here for The Circus 1870 – 1950.

Grateful acknowledgement for these photos is made to the Collection of the Ringling Circus Museum, Pfening Archives, Ken Harck Archives and Tegge Circus Archives.

 

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Pay-day

 

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Driving stakes

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Circus band

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Dining car

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Unloading the trains

 

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Circus dancers

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Dining tent

 

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Sledges

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Coochee dancer

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

The cook

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Transporting on the tracks

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Circus crowd

Water for Elephants original photos, Sara Gruen

Raising the big top

 

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