In 1887 Buffalo Bill’s Wild West opened in London
On May 9, 1887, William Cody’s Wild West show opened its first overseas tour at the Earls Court exhibition complex in London. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was a circus, a rodeo, and a historical pageant—a mammoth extravaganza that culminated in a reenactment of the Battle of Little Big Horn.
The show was hugely successful in England, with twice-daily performances to crowds of 30,000. Queen Victoria made her first public appearance since the death of her husband twenty-five years earlier at a command performance on May 11, 1887. By the time the show closed in October, well over a million Londoners had witnessed the Buffalo Bill version of the American West.
The English tour of the Wild West show and the European tour two years later—early examples of the globalization of American mass culture—are decribed in Buffalo Bill in Bologna: The Americanization of the World, 1869-1922 by Robert W. Rydell and Rob Kroes. Our excerpt from the book covers the European tours.