Born in 1778, Joseph Grimaldi was the son of an Italian pantomime actor and ballet master, also named Joseph. The father and son appeared together for the first time on stage when Grimaldi was just 3 years old.

Grimaldi was the toast of Georgian Britain, and went on to become one of the most influential comic actors and celebrated clowns of all time. His innovative methods transformed comic theatre, leaving a legacy still seen in pantomimes today. The typical clown and master of slapstick humour; with white face, red nose and baggy costume, was Grimaldi's original, comic creation.

The Library of Birmingham's Theatre Royal Collection contains unique manuscripts written in Grimaldi's own hand, along with numerous playbills promoting his hugely anticipated appearances in the city.

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