The Night Circus

The Night Circus Study Guide

The Night Circus is a novel by writer and multimedia artist Erin Morgenstern. Published in 2011, it was the author's debut novel. She has acknowledged debts to Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and Christopher Priest’s The Prestige, as well as to Dahl, Gorey, and Dickens.

Morgenstern's text is a fantasy novel with romance woven throughout it. It is a nonlinear narrative that jumps back and forth between time periods, characters, and places.

The Night Circus was very well received by the public and critics alike. It was on the New York Times Best Seller List for seven weeks. It won an Alex Award in 2012 and was a candidate for the Guardian First Book Award in 2011. The Night Circus is available in paperback from Vintage Anchor in the United States and many other publishers around the world. Over 30 countries bought the foreign-language rights before the book was even released, and the film rights have already gone to Summit Entertainment.

Although called "a love story for adults" by The Washington Post, The Night Circus can be considered a young-adult novel and is read by high school classes and book clubs all over the United States. Because of its popularity in schools, group discussion questions for the book can readily be found online.

Morgenstern’s process for writing the book was an interesting one. Speaking on the Diane Rehm show on NPR, she explained how she wrote the rough draft during National Novel Writing Month but went through many revisions thereafter. At one point, she created the circus and sent her characters to it: “So I sort of just shifted my focus to just writing about the circus, and I did that for the next two years of National Novel Writing Month. I spend the entire month of November just exploring the circus and coming up with characters and histories and tents and just without any sort of structure in mind, just kind of exploring it as an imaginary space. And then I kind of took all of that material which, indeed, my main character in the final version is not even in, and tried to make it a little more book shaped.”