Patty Astley (1741-1803)
Skilled equestrian and acrobat, Patty’s courageous feats included riding around
the ring at speed with a swarm of bees around her head.
She was married to the inventor of the circus ring, Philip Astley. The Astley’s
show was much feted in London life and is mentioned in Jane Austen’s novel Emma
Extract from Queen Bee:
Some women own pearls, I have my bees and horses,
my boys and girls – as you’ve seen I am their Queen,
where some might drape a shawl, I wear my swarm.