I just discovered today, rather to my surprise, that my ggg grandmother was a teenaged lion tamer. This probably accounts for the fact that I can't find her in the census in 1851 (any help there would be appreciated). She married at only 17 and now the fact that she married so far from her place of birth begins to make sense: she and her husband both seem to have been born to rovers, her husband, a musician, was the son of a musician and soldier, and her mother was the cousin (once removed) of George Wombwell, and must have been somehow involved with his travelling menagerie/circus.
She was only 19 when she went near Nero, the lion, while carrying her three-year-old niece who was so badly mauled by the lion that she was not expected to live. However, the child survived and married another travelling musician.
Does anybody know of useful sources on the circus or early lion-tamers?