Philip Astley’s father was a cabinetmaker in England in the late 18th century. In 1751, Philip began his apprenticeship in his father’s shop. Like many children, Philip was not particularly interested in his father’s line of work. Also like a many children, he dreamed of running away from home and joining a circus. Quite unlike many children however, he started his own circus in which he incorporated another childhood desire, which was to work with horses. On the 9th in 1768, Philip staged the first modern circus.
When he was 17 years old, Philip ran away from home and enlisted in the Fifteenth Light Dragoon Regiment as the first step in making his way to working with horses.
Once he got the whole circus thing going Philip quickly hit his stride and in 1772 he staged a show for King Louis XV of France in Versailles.