The Natural History of the Ballet Girl

Albert Smith

London: D. Bogue, 86 Fleet Street / 85273 046 3 (1847/1996)

A 1993 facsimile of the 1847 original; partly-satirical but amazingly correct and sympathetic to the
working conditions of the 19th century ballet-girl. He catches her trying to rehearse in full street
costume in winter on an unheated stage, and he sees her in the heat of summer as she swoons under the
flares of gaslights. Walking long distances between home and theatre because she hasn't enough money
for the trolley, even though her feet are bruised and bleeding from hours of dancing, is recognized.
He points her out from the comfort and safety of his own carriage as he sees her hurrying down wet
and muddy streets or digging in her purse to pay bridge tolls. He also see the children being drilled
daily in the exercises, and marvels at the work they must do to grow up into a profession that can
promise so little reward -- and where one injury could make it all a total loss. Nothing has changed.


dimensions: 4 1/4 x 5 1/5 in / weight: .5 lb / volume: 103 pages


Return to Book Page