Despite appearing later in her career, Nights at the Circus stands as one of the most important novels in of Angela Carter’s career in terms of expanding her readership and bringing her greater posthumous recognition. Published in 1984, the novel’s content remains true to its promise of bringing readers into the world of the circus. The winner of the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction is steeped in Cockney (not necessarily realistic) dialect, postmodern structure, feminist themes and an eminently readable narrative.
That narrative is about an alleged Cockney virgin of unknown parentage who supposedly was hatched from an egg and managed to grow wings who becomes involved in a turn-of-the-20th Century traveling circus Such dramatic luminosity leaves little question for why it was adapted for the stage by Tom Morris and Emma Rice. What is left to ponder, however, is why it took until 2006 for someone to adapt this very Broadway-esque tale for live performance.
Nights at the Circus was released to mixed reviews and stands as the next-to-last novel Carter would published before her death.