If you specialise in Scotland and all things Scottish it is not that often that you stumble over a book that opens up a totally fresh angle. This book does shedding light on the lives of the travelling showfolk who entertained Scots for centuries until fairly recent times. This book focuses on the Codona family, one of the longest and most established show families, who arrived from the continent in the late 1700s.
The story of Frank Codona and his family, a fairground dynasty that has lasted for over two hundred years in Scotland, is told mostly in their own words. A newspaper article in 1954 was headed "Codona; the royal family of the fairground", and because of inter-marriage their story is intertwined with that of other circus and fairground families.
Using original research Showfolk draws on interviews from three generations of the family to give a vivid and richly anecdotal account of this ever-changing world which is enhanced by previously unpublished illustrations. The interviews have been kept intact as much as possible, to keep the flow of overlapping individual life stories, but are organised chronologically from the 1890s, when the history enters living memory, up to the present. The first hundred years, from 1790, are described in a lively introduction which includes many first-hand accounts and following the family fortunes in the United Kingdom and in the the United States where members reached the top of the circus profession. The story even reaches as far afield as Hawaii.