Dea Birkett

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Dea Birkett (born 1958) is a British writer, journalist, broadcaster and a former circus performer.[1]

Dea Birkett
Dea Birkett

Other namesDea Toolis
Known forBroadcaster, Circus Performer
SpouseKevin Toolis


Birkett was brought up in the suburbs of Surrey, England. As a child she watched the circus parade through her town, which made her want to be in a circus. When she had her eldest daughter Storme Toolis in year 1992, she left her daughter with her child’s father Kevin Toolis, so she could run away to the circus. She left the circus in year 1993 but when Birkett turned 60 years of age, she “ran away” again to return to the Circus life beside her youngest child River Toolis.[2]


During her time as journalist Birkett had written on social issues for The Guardian and broadcast for BBC Radio 4. She is creative director of the charity Kids in Museums and Ringmaster of Circus 250. She was awarded the Somerset Maugham Award in 1993 for her book Jella, in which follows Birkett journey from Africa to the UK[clarification needed].


  • Spinsters Abroad (1989)
  • Jella: A Woman at Sea (1992)
  • Mary Kingsley: Imperial Adventuress (1992)
  • Serpent in Paradise (1997) (about her stay on Pitcairn Island)


  1. ^ Coad, Interview by Jenny. "ST Travel meets... author, journalist and circus enthusiast Dea Birkett". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  2. ^ McQuillan, Deirdre. "Sawdust and sequins: Why I ran away to join the circus at 60". The Irish Times. Retrieved 10 November 2020.

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