This piece was written as part of my residency as a writer at the 2021 Bloomsbury Festival. It is a reflection on the events and installations I witnessed at the Festival on October 22, 2021.

It’s also a take on the age of enlightenment, when science began to shed light on darkness and when lack of money became less of a barrier to progression as long as you had a brain…

Find out more about the Bloomsbury Festival at


The circus of enlightenment

Roll up! Roll up!

Join us for an era of excitement, enlightenment and inspiration!

Something’s getting started here on the newly developed edges of London. Gents (and ladies – although most of that comes later) you’re in for a treat! All are welcome. As long as you have good ideas, you’re in. No need for cash or land.

The brain’s the thing. Reason, ideas and science are the currency here. You can make your own way with them. And the church no longer make the rules.

Jezza Bentham’s talking about the greatest happiness for the greatest number. He wants to see the abolition of slavery and corporal punishment, the separation of state and church and rights for women and children. Some say he’s godless, like that lot forming the University College of London. See with your own eyes and judge for yourself. The coffee houses are coming soon and they’ll let even more of us common folk get involved in the debate.

If you’re looking for spectacle then don’t miss our many dissections. Animal. Human – we’ve got ‘em all. There’s a lot of men of learning leaving their bodies to be cut up and what’s the odd grave robbery in the name of science, eh? Once you’re dead – you’re dead. Or not. Believe what you will. Just be sure to reason it out. Our multi-talented Manny Swedenborg can help you figure it out. He’s got a few interesting ideas on heaven and hell alongside some fascinating findings about the human body that’s well ahead of his time.

It’s not just the scientists, either. Gather one and all as our men of literature talk and write about social reform. John Gay’s opera for the common folk is a huge hit at Lincoln’s Inn Theatre.

And have you met our collectors? These guys are legendary. Rob Grant the tiger-tamer has acquired a whole zoo of dead animals (including a jar of moles) whilst others have acquired treasures from around the globe to tempt and delight you! Doc Hans Sloane is probably the best known, bequeathing his entire collection to the nation at the brand new British Museum.

Then there’s our master of mirrors and illusion, Johnnie Soane. His Daddy was a brick maker but he got a scholarship, clever lad and became an architect. Looked after the royal palaces for a while then bought three big houses on Lincoln’s Inn Field to keep all his stuff in. His favourite acquisition – the sarcophagus of Seti – was discovered by our old Italian strongman the Great Belzoni. Pioneer or tomb robber? I’ll leave that to you to decide.

Marvel as the laws that have governed British society for centuries are questioned!

Watch as we create a rational, ordered society where people matter!

No more suffering for the masses!

Discovery! Reform! Humanity!



Suzie has worked in marketing, PR and communications for more than 20 years. She has worked for and with brands including visitBlackpool, JVC, Elemis and in the South West the Eden Project, Skinners, ShelterBox, Porthleven Food Festival, Whistlefish, Tempest Photography, Tom Raffield and more. Suzie believes in the power of the personal touch — and of telling and sharing stories to make meaningful connections with customers.

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