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Fellow Publishes Book on Exotic Animals in Victorian England

15th October 2012

The Tiger that Swallowed the

The Tiger that Swallowed the Boy

Centre Fellow Professor John Simons has published a pioneering work on exotic animals in Victorian England.

If you were born in rural England in 1837 and died in 1901 and never travelled more than thirty miles in any direction would you have seen a hippopotamus before you died? The answer is, surprisingly, yes.

In fact, the roads of England were thronged with all manner of creatures. Kangaroos hopped around the lawns of stately homes, tigers prowled the backstreets of the East End, a tapir terrorised the people of Rochdale, an angry cassowary pursued a Lord as he was out for his daily ride, and a boa constrictor got loose in Tunbridge Wells.

The Tiger that Swallowed the Boy is the first to explore the full and surprising extent of the exotic animal trade in nineteenth-century England and its colonies. It combines deep and original scholarly research with a lively style aimed at the non-academic reader. It looks at zoological gardens, travelling and private menageries, circuses and natural history museums, to show how exotic animals played a key part in the ‘imperial’ project, and how this trade was intimately connected with the tides of Empire.

Professor John Simons is Executive Dean of Arts at Macquarie University, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and the Higher Education Academy. Since the late 1990s he has mainly concentrated on the issue of animals and his chief publications in the field are Animal Rights and the Politics of Literary Representation (2002) and Rossetti’s Wombat (2008).

Details of how to order the book are here.

For more information about the book, please contact Pat Graham at