Copyright © Erin Morgenstern 2011. All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

M i s c e l l a n e o u s H i s t o r i c a l Fa c t o i d s
of Possible Relevance to The Night Circus

Circus
‘The circus is the only spectacle I know that, while you watch it, gives the quality of a happy dream.’ – Ernest Hemingway
I am often asked what my favourite part of the circus is. In truth, I find it impossible to single out one tent over another, to choose a single experience out of so many. If pressed to declare an aspect of the circus that I hold particularly dear to my heart, I must say that it is the quiet that comes over the circus in the very early hours, when most patrons have retired to their homes and beds. The crowds have thinned, and while the sounds have not faded completely, the level of noise is reduced. The music can be heard more clearly, music that seems at once both distant and intimate. It is in these Barnum most separate European tour to the point where 1902 forget that it times I feel the most a part of·the circus, the& Bailey’sfrom the world outside from 1898 to I almostincluded is there. For then my world is striped tents with a path ‘acrobatic acts and salon cabrioles performed in It is wonderful, to have such calm and such wonder that curves out of view in front of me and I cannot see where it leads. evening clothes’ as at the same time together. There are tents, I am certain, that I have not discovered in my many visits to the circus. Though I have seen a great many of the sights, travelled a great many of the available paths, there are always corners that remainlanding was used as a unopened. stunt · The free fall ending in a safe unexplored, doors that remain daredevil I have heard, though I have not seen it for myself,fairs and carnivals as well as circuses. the circus that is black as pitch when entered, in of a tent hidden somewhere in the deepest recesses of so dark that it is impossible to tell if it is a vast space or as enclosed as a pantry. It contains nothing, as far as I have heard. No lamps or performers or large cats. Some simply turn French aerialistIJules Léotard invented the flying for their eyes to1859.to the dark that it is the · around and leave, but am told by those who dare to stay long enough trapeze in adjust most frightening thing they have ever seen, though none can properly describe it afterward. I cannot vouch for the truthfulness of this, save to say that I have heard the same recounted story from multiple, reliable sources, and each seemed shaken when recalling the experience. I do not doubtwere common circus I am uncertain that I would the turn should I happen upon it · Tattooed ladies that such a tent exists, though performers during venture inside myself. It is, I feel, a good example of the depth of the circus. It is not all entertainment and frivolity. There is a range of sensation from the light to near remain inconspicuous outside the sideshow. heavy. The circus is well aware that where there is light, there is also shadow. Perhaps that is one of the reasons it feels so visceral, so real. It is more than carefree amusement, more than distraction or diversion. There are tents that I enjoy visiting over and over again. The Hall of Mirrors. The tent that holds the fire artists, for they are most certainly artists at vertical stripes to accentuate the lines of their bodies. what they do. I could spend hours and hours on end watching the Illusionist perform her astounding and entrancing feats. There is always something new to be seen, to be experienced, even in places I have ventured to countless times. Though they are familiar, they are never dull. Each time I return to the circus, I find the same feeling of elation as I walk through the gate, as I purchase my ticket and take those first few steps, knives, setting them alight to add another element of danger. leaving the outside world behind. It has yet to become tiresome. I doubt that it ever will. I have been asked if there are any tents that I have come across but chosen not to enter, and there is only one that fits that description.

stated in the circus program.

(He also originated the tight-fitted garment that bears his name.)

of the 20th century. Fashion allowed them to cover their tattoos and
· Turn of the century contortionists often wore leotards with

· Some knife throwers attached cloth doused in gasoline to their

· Barnum & Bailey’s shows included trained domestic cats, an act favoured by children.am told she israrity for an is notof this type, though I simply prefer not It was a quite talented. It act due to any aversion or disbelief. I have never visited the tent of the fortune teller, though I trained that if I was aware uncommon. to know what the future brings before it arrives. I would thinkpigs were not of what was in store, I would become too preoccupied with waiting
for it, and where is the enjoyment in that? Whether the future brings good or bad or more likely, something in between the two. I hold the same stance on spoiling the endings of books before one has read them properly. Mysteries can be satisfying. Delightful in their own way, that in 1889 Barnum & Bailey dedicated a separate tent to them. even without solutions.

· Sideshows also offered visual illusions. The acts were so successful

Such tents were often dimly lit, allowing for the concealment of mirrors or set pieces. Headless, legless people. Surreal motifs including ‘Bluebeard’s Chamber’ where the heads of his former wives smiled down at the audience.

Copyright © Erin Morgenstern 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

fo rt u n e t e l l i n g
‘Going to the fortune teller’s was just as good as going to the opera, and the cost scarcely a trifle more - ergo, I will disguise myself and go again, one of these days, when other amusements fail.’ – Mark Twain

The origins of the tarot are clouded in mystery, though early decks date back to the 1400s in Italy and were likely brought to France. Originally used for card games, by the 18th century, tarot cards were also used for divination purposes. Before the advent of the printing press, decks were hand painted. The most popular of the early mass-produced decks came from the city of Marseilles in France, thus it is commonly known as the Tarot of Marseilles. Cartomancy using standard playing cards was more popular than tarot during the 18th and 19th centuries. A tarot deck has 56 cards in four suits, corresponding to standard playing cards, ace through ten and four face or court cards, and 22 trump cards, numbered 1-21 with The Fool marked as 0. A few of the cards featured in the book and some of their divinatory meanings: Le Bateleur, The Magician: masculine archetype, action and power. Using universal forces for creative purposes. Conscious action. La Papessa, The High Priestess: Feminine balance of The Magician, guardian of the unconscious. Mystery and potential. Following intuition. La Justice, Justice: Responsibility, decisions, cause and effect. Karma. Le Pendu, The Hanged Man: Letting things go. Seeing things from a different angle. Surrender and sacrifice. Tempérance, Temperance: Maintaining balance. Combining forces. Creating synthesis. Moderation and middle ground. Note: Poppet’s method of divination is scrying-based. Scrying is a general term for fortune telling using reflective or luminescent objects, such as mirrors, bowls of water or ink, and the always popular crystal ball.

Copyright © Erin Morgenstern 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

M ag i c
‘A conjuror is not a juggler; he is an actor playing the part of a magician; an artist whose fingers have more need to move with deftness than with speed. I may even add that where sleight-of-hand is involved, the quieter the movement of the performer, the more readily will the spectators be deceived.’ – Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin

· The classic rabbit in the hat trick, despite its fame, was only performed by a handful of magicians. It was originally based on a joke about hats with rabbit fur linings, thus the trick appeared to make the lining come to life. · Though sometimes contested, it is generally accepted that the trick of sawing a woman in half was not performed as part of a public magic act until 1920. · In the 1880s, stage magicians used angled glass to create the illusions of ghosts interacting alongside them during their acts. Interactions were carefully choreographed and the real ‘ghosts’ were concealed in the pit below the stage, lit so their reflections would appear on the unseen glass. · Tricks with mirrors were considered passé by the 1890s, to the point where illusions were advertised as being performed ‘without the use of mirrors’. · Magicians of the time often stole both tricks and names from their colleagues, using variations on popular names to capitalise on the fame of others. · Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, 1805-1871, was the most influential magician of the mid-19th century. He was also a skilled watchmaker and combined techniques to accomplish his feats, utilising wheels, springs and clockwork. He also believed a magic program should be arranged so one trick built upon the last. · Some of Robert-Houdin’s inventions were pirated by his mechanic and sold to other magicians. · Erik Weisz, better known as Harry Houdini, was heavily influenced by Robert-Houdin. This is reflected in his now-famous stage name. · Elements of spiritualism were often incorporated into stage magic performances, using techniques pulled from séance rooms. This lead to an ‘Anti-Spiritualist’ movement, with other magicians claiming their illusions as tricks, challenging séance room frauds.

The Night Circus | 9781846555244 | Harvill Secker | Trade Paperback | $32.95 | October 2011 The Night Circus eBook | 97818446468265 | Harvill Secker | eBook | $32.95 | October 2011

Copyright © Erin Morgenstern 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted www.randomhouse.com.au in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

THE

NIGHT CIRCUS
by

Erin Morgenstern

Ca s t o f C h a r ac t e r s

The Magicians, for lack of a more appropriate term Hector Bowen, also known as Prospero the Enchanter. Mercurial stage magician of some renown. The man in the grey suit, sometimes referred to as Mr. A. H——, occasionally called Alexander. Biographical information is unavailable. Their respective students Celia Bowen, only child of Hector Bowen and illusionist of Le Cirque des Rêves. Marco Alisdair, adopted pupil of the man in the grey suit and personal assistant to Chandresh Christophe Lefèvre. Associates & Conspirators behind Le Cirque des Rêves Chandresh Christophe Lefèvre, proprietor and theatrical producer. Mme. Anna Padva, costume designer and retired prima ballerina. Ethan W. Barris, architect and engineer. The Sisters Burgess, Tara and Lainie, specialising in atmosphere. And Herr Friedrick Thiessen, master clockmaker, writer, and lover of wine. Selected Company of the Circus Isobel Martin, fortune teller. Tsukiko, contortionist. Penelope ‘Poppet’ Murray and Winston ‘Widget’ Murray, twins born on Opening Night. They teach impressive tricks to small cats. Also . . . there is Bailey Alden Clarke, who is only a boy on a farm with a dream.

The Night Circus | 9781846555244 | Harvill Secker | Trade Paperback | $32.95 | October 2011 The Night Circus eBook | 97818446468265 | Harvill Secker | eBook | $32.95 | October 2011

Copyright © Erin Morgenstern 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

THE

NIGHT CIRCUS
by

Erin Morgenstern

E x c e r p t f r o m N i g h t s at t h e C i r c u s
The Collected Writings of Friedrick S. Thiessen (1905) Original article first published September 23rd, 1892

It is often autumn when the circus appears, or those early days of winter after the first frost but before the first snow. It is not a summer circus, though it may appear in spring when the night air is still chill and damp. It matches best with the late autumn trees stretching their bare branches out over grey skies, the grey blending pleasingly with the black and white. It can be supposed, then, that when it is autumn in one part of the world the circus is likely to be found there, and when the earth tilts in a different way the circus will be found opposite, on the other side of the world where it is autumn while it is spring where the circus had been previously. It chases the seasons around the globe. I have attended carnivals that are summer carnivals, at night with the heavy air and singing crickets, when the sugared treats and candy seem stickier and have a tendency to melt. This is not that kind of circus. It is a cozy feeling, to walk through the paths of the circus in the crisp air, to be chilled enough in the night to need a scarf but to be warmed when you enter a tent or pass by the bonfire. The shifts in temperature are subtle but comforting. And it is a joy to have a cup of warm cider or tea to sip, steaming and soulful. Perhaps these small comforts help to ground the extraordinary experience of the circus in small, tangible ways. Sipping a cup of cider is familiar; it puts one at ease. It prepares the self for more unusual experiences to come. The courtyard is a taste, a sampling of the circus. It gives the patron a hint of what to expect inside the numerous tents. The whole of Le Cirque des Rêves is formed by series of circles. Perhaps it is a tribute to the origin of the word ‘circus’, deriving from the Greek kirkos meaning circle, or ring. There are many such nods to the phenomenon of the circus in a historical sense, though it is hardly a traditional circus. Rather than a single tent with rings enclosed within, this circus contains clusters of tents like pyramids, some large and others quite small. They are set within circular paths, contained within a circular fence. Looping and continuous. There are wings to the circus, fanning out from the centre like spokes on a wheel. If you were able to view the circus from above, it would look something like a series of soap bubbles stuck together as they float. Of course, what it looks like from above is not much matter, unless you are a bird. And you would never be able to tell, walking hrough the circus as a spectator, where each ring begins or ends. Eventually you will end up where you started, that is the only certainty.

That, and the bonfire is in the centre. Each circle radiates out from this point, in one way or another. The wrought iron fence that surrounds the entire circus is a perfect circle around the bonfire. Mathematicians, if they were gifted with the bird’s view, would love it. Visitors with no particular opinion on circles and their nature do not pay it much mind, and occasionally remark that the circus is ‘difficult to navigate.’ In truth, it is not difficult at all, if you realise that, no matter which way you are walking, you are walking in a circle. Most people do not realise this, preferring to think in straight lines. Straight lines have beginnings, and middles, and ends. Circles do not. Circles are continuous. Le Cirque des Rêves is, itself, continuous. The bonfire courtyard is the heart of Le Cirque des Rêves. It is the only large open space within the circus. All other space is either tented or simply a passageway between tents, though there are nooks, here and there. The bonfire courtyard becomes a natural hub of activity. The bonfire itself illuminates the entire courtyard. It stands about ten feet tall, though the flames occasionally reach higher, contained in a rather elaborate cage. It is almost impossible to explain, but I shall try my best. It sits in what is essentially a low, wide cauldron which appears to be cast iron and sits on a number of clawed feet. Where the rim of a cauldron would be, it instead breaks into long strips of curling iron, as though the cauldron has been melted and pulled apart like taffy. The curling iron continues up until it curls back into itself, weaving in and out amongst the other curls, giving it the cage-like effect. The flames are visible through the iron. They are obscured only at the bottom, and thus it is impossible to tell what is burning, if it is wood or coal or something else entirely. It is a subject of much speculation, as the flames themselves are not the burning orange of a typical bonfire. No, the flames that dance in their curling iron cage at the exact centre of Le Cirque des Rêves are white. There are those who claim they are not real flames at all. A cleverly crafted trick. But the flames are hot, and they spark and sputter as real fire does. And the bonfire glows, luminous and flickering. Though it is void of colour, it is still, undeniably, firelight. The further away you are from the bonfire, the dimmer the light, but the tents give off their own light as well. The outside of each tent is adorned with twinkling lights. They follow the lines and curves of the tent, as though thousands of fireflies had alighted in very uniform order.

Near the tops of the taller tents it is difficult to differentiate the electrical lights from the stars beyond. Much of the refreshment to be had is found in the courtyard. There are apples coated in caramel that is mixed so dark it appears almost black, and stains your tongue a similar shade. There are apples coated in chocolate as well, or a combination of the two. There is popcorn, of course. What is a circus without popcorn? It is sold in striped bags, and you have the option of purchasing it drizzled in chocolate or caramel as well, for a slight increase in charge. Cider and cocoa are sold, in striped paper cups, spiced with cinnamon or nutmeg or chilli pepper. Teas and coffees flavoured with vanilla or ginger or mint. If you prefer a stronger beverage there is a tent for such things, but they are not sold in the courtyard. There are more unusual items, as well. Intricate flowers made from spun sugar, each petal so detailed it is almost too beautiful to consume. Curls of edible paper, with fortunes written upon them, and the flavour of the paper depends on the nature of the fortune. Dream Boxes: small candy boxes with ornate sugar lids, complete with clasps and hinges, though what is inside is known only by the customer, and the vendor. The vendors are not stationary. They move around the courtyard with carts or trays. They wear dresses or suits in checks and stripes, and some have veils or hats or both. Their faces are painted and powdered. They rarely speak. There are signs on the carts or trays to indicate price and options. There are performers in the courtyard as well. Jugglers tossing black and white balls in intricate patterns. Magicians performing elaborate tricks mere inches from their spectators, though for true spectacle, you must seek out the Illusionist, as she is not to be found in the courtyard. A pair of twins, one in black and one in white, with trained kittens that leap through hoops. A contortionist on a raised platform, twisting herself into unimaginable positions. The bonfire illuminates all of it. Throwing a curtain of constantly shifting light across the entire courtyard and everyone in it. The contortionist takes on an almost angelic appearance; the spheres tossed by the juggler seem to glow as they fly through the night air. You are never entirely sure if the magician’s acts of prestidigitation are truly magical, or simply tricks of the light.

Copyright © Erin Morgenstern 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

THE

NIGHT CIRCUS
by

Erin Morgenstern

E x c e r p t f r o m N i g h t s at t h e C i r c u s
The Collected Writings of Friedrick S. Thiessen (1905) Original article first published March 21st, 1895

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Chicago Columbian Exposition with my friend Mr. Ethan Barris. We both remarked on multiple occasions that it was reminiscent of Le Cirque des Rêves, only on a grander scale. Mr. Barris was particularly taken with the remarkable observation wheel of Mr. Ferris, and said that he might like to create something similar for the circus. I imagined a wheel towering over the striped tents and thought it would be fitting. What Mr. Barris devised is something rather different. Truly, I doubt anyone who rides The Stargazer would guess that the work of Mr. Ferris provided the inspiration for it. I would never fathom as much had I not been privy to its development. The Stargazer is only open to the public when the night is clear. On cloudy, overcast nights it is closed. It is, as far as I know, the only attraction in the circus with such stipulations. When one enters the tent, they are met with a long, winding staircase that is often occupied by the waiting line. On the walls there are diagrams, framed maps of constellations. At the top of the stair there is a small platform. From the platform there is nothing to be seen but blackness and a white-costumed circus worker who guides riders to their seats. The seats, which are something like a sleigh or carriage, move slowly along the edge of the platform. They do not stop completely, but they move gently enough to enter or exit carefully. Inside they are quite comfortable, cushioned seats with high backs and walls, all in deepest black. They might sit three or four people across, though most ride solo or in pairs. When the slowly-moving cart reaches the end of the platform, some hinge or other clever mechanism releases and the cart falls just a bit and sways as if it is only suspended from above, though it is too dark to discern how. At the same time it tilts backwards. And once in a reclining position, one can understand how the Stargazer was so named. The tent has no top. The upper portion of it is open, uncovered. The night sky is fully visible above. The elevated height removes any horizon or tree line, the high walls of the cart disrupt all peripheral vision. One is left with nothing but an expanse of stars and darkness. It is different from watching the stars on one’s back in a field, both because of the altered perspective and because the gentle swaying of the cart adds a sensation of weightlessness.

There is no sound in the Stargazer. It is preternaturally quiet. Though there are other riders travelling in a slow circle, they can be neither seen nor heard. It is a wondrous experience, peaceful and lulling. Sometimes I feel it seems too soon when I reach the platform again, guided by another circus worker to another stair, this one descending back from the heavens to the ground. It is an amazing feat of engineering, the great wheel turned on its side. Though I think perhaps part of the charm is that the work of the engineer remains invisible. Of course, the experiences at Le Cirque des Rêves range from such remarkable feats of engineering and architecture to tents that are simple and straightforward in their construction, though no less wondrous. There is one such tent that I am rather fond of, myself. It is called The Drawing Room. The interior of the tent is something like a gallery, with walls along the sides and partitions spread throughout the space. Not a large room, it is low-ceilinged and almost cozy. The walls alternate from solid black in some sections to solid white in others, and there are bowls and bowls of chalk. The bowls, which are black or white depending on which colour chalk they contain, are suspended in the air with cords or sunken into the ground. The chalk itself comes in different sizes, thin and thick to produce different lines. It creates remarkably little dust. You may draw whatever you wish, wherever you wish. I find I spend more time looking at the images and words left by others than I do making my own, though I never leave the tent without leaving something behind. A bird or quotation or, if I am feeling particularly artistic, a rendition of a clock. It is freeing to design a clock without worrying oneself about the mechanics of it. It lives on the wall, frozen at a specific time and not ticking. Though perhaps then it is not really a clock at all, and simply the idea of a clock. I suppose it does not matter. I find it enjoyable. I cannot resist entering The Drawing Room whenever I happen upon it, for it is always unique. Because it is an interactive experience, it is different every night. There are always new images to see. The drawings will range from the haphazard scrawls of children to beautiful renditions drawn by clearly gifted hands. Often there are images culled from the rest of the circus: cats or acrobats or mythological creatures from the Carousel. And every night it is different. I imagine at the end of each night the walls are cleaned of chalk and left as blank canvas for the next evening. Though even when I have visited The Drawing Room at an early hour, there is much to be seen upon its walls. Perhaps some circus members add their own drawings before opening time so there is something for those early visitors to see. Or perhaps it is just one of the many little mysteries of the circus.

Copyright © Erin Morgenstern 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

THE

NIGHT CIRCUS
by

Erin Morgenstern

E x c e r p t f r o m N i g h t s at t h e C i r c u s
The Collected Writings of Friedrick S. Thiessen (1905) Original article first published August 28th, 1896

I am often asked what my favourite part of the circus is. In truth, I find it impossible to single out one tent over another, to choose a single experience out of so many. If pressed to declare an aspect of the circus that I hold particularly dear to my heart, I must say that it is the quiet that comes over the circus in the very early hours, when most patrons have retired to their homes and beds. The crowds have thinned, and while the sounds have not faded completely, the level of noise is reduced. The music can be heard more clearly, music that seems at once both distant and intimate. It is in these times I feel the most a part of the circus, the most separate from the world outside to the point where I almost forget that it is there. For then my world is striped tents with a path that curves out of view in front of me and I cannot see where it leads. It is wonderful, to have such calm and such wonder at the same time together. There are tents, I am certain, that I have not discovered in my many visits to the circus. Though I have seen a great many of the sights, travelled a great many of the available paths, there are always corners that remain unexplored, doors that remain unopened. I have heard, though I have not seen it for myself, of a tent hidden somewhere in the deepest recesses of the circus that is black as pitch when entered, so dark that it is impossible to tell if it is a vast space or as enclosed as a pantry. It contains nothing, as far as I have heard. No lamps or performers or large cats. Some simply turn around and leave, but I am told by those who dare to stay long enough for their eyes to adjust to the dark that it is the most frightening thing they have ever seen, though none can properly describe it afterward. I cannot vouch for the truthfulness of this, save to say that I have heard the same recounted story from multiple, reliable sources, and each seemed shaken when recalling the experience. I do not doubt that such a tent exists, though I am uncertain that I would venture inside should I happen upon it myself. It is, I feel, a good example of the depth of the circus. It is not all entertainment and frivolity. There is a range of sensation from the light to near heavy. The circus is well aware that where there is light, there is also shadow. Perhaps that is one of the reasons it feels so visceral, so real. It is more than carefree amusement, more than distraction or diversion. There are tents that I enjoy visiting over and over again. The Hall of Mirrors. The tent that holds the fire artists, for they are most certainly artists at what they do. I could spend hours and hours on end watching the Illusionist perform her astounding and entrancing feats. There is always something new to be seen, to be experienced, even in places I have ventured to countless times. Though they are familiar, they are never dull. Each time I return to the circus, I find the same feeling of elation as I walk through the gate, as I purchase my ticket and take those first few steps, leaving the outside world behind. It has yet to become tiresome. I doubt that it ever will. I have been asked if there are any tents that I have come across but chosen not to enter, and there is only one that fits that description. I have never visited the tent of the fortune teller, though I am told she is quite talented. It is not due to any aversion or disbelief. I simply prefer not to know what the future brings before it arrives. I would think that if I was aware of what was in store, I would become too preoccupied with waiting for it, and where is the enjoyment in that? Whether the future brings good or bad or more likely, something in between the two. I hold the same stance on spoiling the endings of books before one has read them properly. Mysteries can be satisfying. Delightful in their own way, even without solutions.

The Night Circus | 9781846555244 | Harvill/Secker | $32.95 | Trade Paperback | October 2011

Copyright © Erin Morgenstern 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

THE

NIGHT CIRCUS
by

Erin Morgenstern

Behind the Book
(the epic version, in two parts with bonus extra bits) Behind the Story

The Night Circus began as a rough draft deviation during an entirely different manuscript. A circus dropped into a storyline that was going nowhere and it was far more interesting than anything occurring around it. Poppet and Widget (and their kittens) appear in that first foray through what was then a nameless circus (it wasn’t even nocturnal), so despite being the youngest members of the circus, they’ve existed as characters longer than anyone else. For two Novembers (in 2006 and 2007), I wrote all about the circus for National Novel Writing Month, resulting in over 100,000 words’ worth of interconnected vignettes, covering bits of circus history and taking meandering tours through various tents. Early drafts contained a great deal of atmosphere and very little else. It is not an exaggeration to say that every page changed completely from that first National Novel Writing Month draft to the finished book – like a painting that has an entirely different sketch hidden under layers of pigment. Celia does not appear in that original draft. I do wonder if it might be the only book ever written in which the main character didn’t exist on the first go-round. Even after she turned up, it took a while to realise that it was her story, even though she was immediately my favourite. What the novel needed, I discovered through revision after revision, was something to tie all the elements together, a nice wrought-iron fence to keep everything contained. The competition aspect ended up serving that function, and oddly, all of the characters directly involved were already placed in the proper positions to set up the game, it just took me a rather long time to figure out that it was, indeed, a game. I had all the parts on paper, even down to Tsukiko’s tattoo, but I couldn’t see the meaning until I fit the puzzle pieces together in a certain way. In my defence, I had a lot of rather enigmatic characters toying with me throughout the process. (Yes, I know what Alexander’s surname is. No, I’m not telling.) I excavate when I write. I find entire worlds, fully formed in my head and I have to dig around inside them to discover themes and connections and plot. Sometimes I get lost. It’s likely not the most efficient way to write fiction, but I find really interesting things when I just keep digging. I started with a circus, and it turned into a story about choices and love and finding the shades of grey between the black-andwhite, which is what it was always meant to be.

Copyright © Erin Morgenstern 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

THE

NIGHT CIRCUS
by

Erin Morgenstern

Behind the Book
(the epic version, in two parts with bonus extra bits) Behind the Circus

The circus itself is inspired by all sorts of things. Primarily, it’s my ideal entertainment venue, combining a great deal of my personal artistic preferences and wrapping them up in stripes. I have a background (and a degree) in Theatre, but I am extremely picky about what kind of theatre I truly enjoy seeing. I love theatrical experiences when the wall between stage and audience is broken, but I abhor audience participation that puts poor unsuspecting audience members on the spot. Maybe because I’m shy and that sort of interaction takes away my ability to relax and enjoy myself. I love the idea of immersive entertainment that is self-directed – where the person experiencing it can choose where to go and what to see, what to engage with, or if they just need a break and a snack without having to wait for a set intermission. During revisions, I was phenomenally lucky in that the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, happened to be staging a production by a brilliant UK company called Punchdrunk. An immersive, Hitchcockian Macbeth that took place throughout an abandoned school. While a very different flavour, it is the closest experience I’ve had in real life to what I imagine attending the circus would feel like, an entire environment to explore. I went back four times. There are a few homages to that production within the finished book, including the darkened tunnel at the entrance and the room full of albino evergreen trees in the Labyrinth. Celia’s tent was designed in the round to negate the use of standard stage tricks and the perspective of mirrors. I have a fondness for paper art, from origami to re-purposed books, especially used with text. This comes back again and again throughout the circus, the intersection of the everyday with the fantastical, the simplicity of paper elevated or animated into something more. The Pool of Tears is a reference to Alice in Wonderland. The lamppost in the Hall of Mirrors is a little touch of Narnia. The Hanged Man is a nod to the tarot card of the same name. Living Statues are a form of performance art I have always admired, having encountered such displays in various locations from Boston and Cambridge to a marvellous bronze witch in Salem. I thought they would make for appropriate accents to the circus, hidden around corners and posed in unexpected alcoves. While a great deal of the food comes from my own imagination, chocolate mice are not my invention; they can be purchased from L.A. Burdick chocolatiers, though their tails are ribbon and not liquorice.
The Cloud Maze is partially inspired by a three-dimensional maze I remember (likely not in precise detail) from the Boston Children’s Museum. Something like jigsaw puzzle pieces, filled with holes and layered on top of each other, so you could climb through from level to level. (There is still a climbing maze at the museum, but if it’s the same one from when I was little, my memory is more creative than I’d thought.)

Copyright © Erin Morgenstern 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

THE

NIGHT CIRCUS
by

Erin Morgenstern

Behind the Book
(the epic version, in two parts with bonus extra bits) Miscellaneous Extra Bits That May Be of Interest

Le Bateleur was originally told entirely from Isobel’s perspective, including the discovery of the notebook and her attempt to catch up with its owner. This entire sequence, with the crowd and the streets, the rain, the notebook full of alchemical symbols and the magician appearing out of nowhere to reclaim it, as well as the illusionary forest, was taken from a dream I had several years ago. A great deal of Chandresh’s arc is an exaggerated version of my own experience as a director back when I was a theatre student. Being so intrinsically involved in every aspect of something, only to have to let it go and not have a real role after the show has opened. It’s a strange place to be, mentally. I never drank that much brandy, though. I am not a chef (I’m not even a very good cook), but I love food and I love the art of dining in the same way that I love the act of making tea, there’s a sense of ceremony about it. Midnight Dinners were invented because I knew Chandresh would never have standard dinner parties, so I took the idea of a dinner party and amplified the sense of ceremony with an extra element of mystery. Having them begin at midnight was both practical for a post-theatre crowd and important for tone. Another glass of wine and a honey-laced dessert are a different experience at two a.m. than the same flavours imbibed earlier in the evening. The three Bailey sections in Illuminations are each titled after types of divination. Oneiromancy is divination based on dreams, Cartomancy is divination using cards, and Ailuromancy is divination using the movement of cats. When it came to Bailey, it was important to me that he not be a destined or a chosen saviour, born to do what he does. At the end of the day, he’s just a kid who believes and there is nothing about the role he plays that could not have been undertaken by someone else under the proper circumstances. However, the idea of destiny is purposefully muddled around him, in choices and timing and Poppet’s visions of his future. I truly did not intend any reference to Barnum & Bailey in choosing Bailey’s name. Celia’s gown from Intersections & Beautiful Pain, first seen in Mme. Padva’s studio during Lainie’s visit, is based on this House of Worth gown, circa 1898-1900.

The Night Circus | 9781846555244 | Harvill Secker | Trade Paperback | $32.95 | October 2011 The Night Circus eBook | 97818446468265 | Harvill Secker | eBook | $32.95 | October 2011

Copyright © Erin Morgenstern 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted www.randomhouse.com.au in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful