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Broadside entitled 'Fearful Accident!'


This news report begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of a most dreadful circumstance which happened on Tuesday the 18th February instant, in consequence of the escape, from Wombwell's Menagerie, of the celebrated Lion, Wallace, and a large Tigress, by which melancholy accident, Four Human Beings were destroyed!!!' The broadside publisher was Menzies, and the story was sourced from the Northampton Herald.

Wombwell's Travelling Menagerie was founded in the early nineteenth century by George Wombwell (1777-1850), a London businessman who had been acquiring and showing exotic animals for some years. Wallace the Lion, one of the assailants mentioned in this broadside report, was the first lion to be born in Britain. Wombwell named him after William Wallace, the champion of Scottish independence. Although the report was sourced in England, the menagerie visited Scotland annually and there would have been great interest in this bizarre tragedy north of the border. Wallace had actually been involved in an arranged fight in Warwick with 6 dogs in August 1825, for which Wombwell was severely criticized on the grounds of cruelty.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Probable date of publication: 1835   shelfmark: F.3.a.13(115)
Broadside entitled 'Fearful Accident!'
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