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Work, Life, Balance: Blondin over Niagara

Philip Carter, Publication Editor, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

30 June marks the 150th anniversary of the crossing of Niagara Falls by the French-born tight-rope walker Charles Blondin. A year in the planning, Blondin’s escapade attracted up to 25,000 spectators who watched him step out on a 3 inch rope (wide by his standards) carrying a 30 foot pole. Seventeen minutes later he was across. As the crowds prepared to depart, he made his return—in less than half the time and now with the daring tricks with which he is associated.

After a year performing over the Falls, Blondin set up home in London (appropriately at ‘Niagara Villa’) and became a British subject in 1868. To mark the anniversary, Blondin’s life story is now available in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and as the latest episode of the ODNB’s biography podcast.

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