Skip to main content

Bostock, Frank C., 1866 - 1912



  • Existence: 10 September 1866 - 8 October 1912


Frank C. Bostock was born 10 September 1866 in Darlingon, County Durham and following up family tradition became and animal trainer age fifteen. He travelled to the United States in 1893 setting up business in Brooklyn with four monkeys, five parrots, three lions, a sheep and a kangaroo. Here, he partnered up with the Ferari brothers and their shows became he hub around which many of the early treet-fair showmen built their midways. Such was their influence in this country that they can be credited with initiating the tradition of the touring carnival in America.

Frank returned to the UK in the early 1900s bringing back from America the idea of ‘the big show’. He put together a massive touring exhibition of animals which he called the ‘Bostock Arena and Jungle’ and set off to travel around the country. The Jungle appeared at Earls Court in 1908 and then visited principal cities in the UK over the following years.

On Tuesday 8th October 1912, Frank died of influenza at his home in Kensington Mansions, London age only 46. At the time of his death, he was one of the most successful showman in the country. His various menageries and business contained over a thousand animals and he had circus shows and amusement parks in America, Australia, Europe, and South Africa. He was also in the process of negotiating a lease of the London Opera House to be turned into a winter garden, but this was never to be.

Frank's funeral took place at Abney Park Cemetery and was attended by a great number of people, including some of the biggest names in the showland business.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Circus Friends Association Collection

Reference code: NFA0122
Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a large library of books and journals, as well as archival material including posters, programmes, photographs, films, handbills, research material, scrapbooks, original artwork and many other items of ephemera relating to British, Irish and European circuses

Dates: 1795 - 2020

Circus Research Material, 1891 - 1935

Reference code: 178B30.37
Scope and Contents A large volume of typed and handwritten material referring to information published in newspapers and journals including the Strand Magazine, The Royal Magazine, McClure's Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, The Bookman, The World Magazine, Cassells's Magazine, American Magazine, The Toronto Star Weekly, Everybody's Magazine, Collier's Illustrated Weekly, St. Nicholas Magazine, Popular Science Monthly, Pearson's Magazine and Saturday Evening Post on animal training and other aspects of wild...
Dates: 1891 - 1935

Monographs, Articles, Manuscripts and Research Material, c1795 - 1999

Reference code: 178B30
Scope and Contents

Compilation of monographs, articles, manuscripts and a range of research material about circus companies and performers in the United Kingdom, Europe and other parts of the world by various authors, the research was mainly compiled by Hal Thomas.

Dates: c1795 - 1999