The Night Circus

The Night Circus Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Erin Morgenstern

Erin Morgenstern was born in Marshfield, Massachusetts, and graduated from Smith College in 2000 with a double major in Studio Art and Theater. She is a writer and multimedia artist, and has produced her own tarot card deck under the brand Phantomwise. She wrote The Night Circus in 2005 as part of the National Novel Writing Month, and published it in 2011. Her next novel, The Starlit Sea, is due out in 2019. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband.
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Historical Context of The Night Circus

The Night Circus is set, generally, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, centered in London with frequent stops in cities around the world. This time period in England is known as the Victorian Era, which was dominated by conservative Protestant social values. The circus was a popular form of entertainment, allowing spectators to temporarily shake off the strict rules and limitations of Victorian society; it also served as a refuge for people who were likely to be marginalized for their physical or mental differences. International travel was still difficult and prohibitively expensive for most people, so the traveling circus offered spectators a glimpse of the exotic world they could not visit on their own.

Other Books Related to The Night Circus

Critics have compared The Night Circus to the Harry Potter and Twilight books, as well as to other mainstream fantasy fiction such as Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, Martin Dressler by Steven Milhauser, and works by writers like Ray Bradbury and Neil Gaiman. Like the Harry Potter and Twilight books, The Night Circus is suitable for both adults and young adult readers.
Key Facts about The Night Circus
  • Full Title: The Night Circus
  • When Written: 2005
  • Where Written: Massachusetts and New York City
  • When Published: 2011
  • Literary Period: Contemporary American Literature
  • Genre: Fantasy, Speculative Fiction
  • Setting: Various settings, mainly London and Concord, MA, late 19th century to early 20th century
  • Climax: Marco and Celia jump into the bonfire to escape the competition
  • Point of View: 3rd and 2nd

Extra Credit for The Night Circus

If At First You Don’t Succeed… Morgenstern was rejected by thirty literary agents before signing with Inkwell Management and publishing her novel with Doubleday, a major publishing company, in 2011.

You, Too, Can Join the Circus! In 2011, before the book was published, The Night Circus was turned into an interactive game, which is still available to play online. There have been plans to make the novel into a movie or television show as well, although the screenplay has been in progress since 2012 with nothing confirmed yet.