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JOSSER is the powerful and moving account of Oxford-educated Nell Stroud's life in the circus. It is also the story of the people of the circus: the trapeze artists, the clowns, the high-wire acts, the grooms, the llamas, the elephants - their commitment and expertise, their hard, marginalised, miraculous lives. Following a terrible riding accident which left her mother permanently brain-damaged, Nell ran away to the circus. What she found there was a life which became more real to her than the one she left behind. She found people who had sacrificed their lives for their art, who worked in all weathers, perfecting some of the most dramatic and beautiful acts ever seen. She found third-generation show-people who travelled around forgotten parts of Britain to bring their abstract, polished, multi-layered show to ever dwindling audiences. She found herself in an art form that soon, if we are not careful, we will lose. Whilst she has lived and worked among the circus people for several years, she is not one of them: she was not born in the circus. In their words she is a 'josser' a person in the circus from the outside world. This is her story. 'The circus does cast a spell over some people. I felt overwhelmed by it. The circus filled up existence and left room for nothing else. What was there to do?

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781860496950
ISBN-10: 1860496954
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 130mm x 20mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Virago Press Ltd
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 6-Apr-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions


UK Kirkus Review » The author stands in a unique, and somewhat awkward position. Having gained a thorough insight into circus life due to the extensive amount of time she has spent leading this extraordinary existence, as a 'josser', an outsider in the eyes of the Circus Family, she will never truly be a part of it. Perching on this borderline, however, she is able to empathize with both her new friends and their bizarre way of life, as well as the normality of her old life. Tragic circumstances led her to run away to this exciting new life, but what she wasn't prepared for were the tough mental and physical tests that had to be faced. The book is littered with all kinds of colourful and fascinating characters, all larger-than-life, as you would expect, and plenty of adventure. Stroud depicts beautifully a lively and dramatic world, and the compelling community within it. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Nell Stroud

Nell Stroud was born in Oxford in 1973. She studied English Literature at the university before leaving to join the circus. This is her first book.